Recommended Reading

"'Bare Knees Flapper' The Life and Films of Virginia Lee Corbin"

by Tim Lussier (McFarland Publishers 2018, 212 pages) -

Review by Dean Thompson

Consider what the world-renowned silent film historian Kevin Brownlow says in his Foreword to Tim Lussier's study of Virginia Lee Corbin's life and career:

"My reaction when I saw this book was 'How did he do it?' I can appreciate why it took so long and how difficult it must have been; I had to research Virginia Lee Corbin's early career for a biography of one of her directors--Sidney Franklin--and I came up with hardly enough for one chapter, let alone 26!"

Not only is this biography chock full of information and often beautiful pictures; not only does it bring to the forefront a life, career, and era that otherwise might have been reduced to a tattered pile of newspaper clippings; but it also evokes a powerful response from the reader on the vissitudes of fame, the damage done by parents who vicariously live through the children whom they push into the spotlight, and the haunting darkness within when that spotlight is turned elsewhere.

Corbin's talent and charisma were formidable, as we can witness in her surviving films. I should mention that in addition to publishing this biography, Lussier has been instrumental in bringing to light one of Corbin's films from the pinnacle of her career, HEADLINES (1925), now available on blu ray from Grapevine Video. You should check it out--that, and another Grapevine release, the wonderful Civil War comedy HANDS UP! (1926), which Corbin made with Raymond Griffith. She is a total charmer in both.

This biography is the result of two decades of unrelenting research and dedication, and it's more than worth the wait. Kudos to Tim Lussier. Somewhere up high, sitting on a cloud, a "bare knees" flapper named Virginia is smiling.

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