MOVIES WAY BACK WHEN: Female Director Films in Montecito

By Betsy J. Green

There were a number of female movie directors during the silent film period (before c.1930), but not many of them were directing movies in our area. One exception was Lois Weber. In 1920, she filmed scenes for the five-reel movie “Too Wise Wives” here. This movie was released on May 22, 1921. The exact location is not known. (If any Edhat readers recognize the location, please leave a comment.)

According to the local paper, “Lois Weber, motion picture director, accompanied by Phillips Smalley and about 30 actors and actresses, arrived in Santa Barbara yesterday . . . It is the intention of Miss Weber to film a number of exterior scenes on Santa Barbara and Montecito estates.” – Santa Barbara Morning Press, November 13, 1920

The movie focused on a couple of wives, who were not as smart as they thought they were. Spoiler alert! The intertitle (subtitle) shown gives the ending away. (This movie is available on Youtube.)

Betsy’s Way Back When book — 1919 — is now available in local bookstores and at This is the sixth book in her series of the history of Santa Barbara, one year at a time. Learn more at​.


Written by bjgreen

Betsy J. Green is a Santa Barbara historian and author. Her books are available in local bookstores, and at (Shop local if you can.) Learn more at

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