free hit counter code Without Lying Down: Screenwriter Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood - GoBooks - Download Free Book
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Without Lying Down: Screenwriter Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood

Availability: Ready to download

Frances Marion was Hollywood's highest paid screenwriter - male or female - for almost three decades. She was the first woman to twice win an Academy Award for screenwriting. From 1916 to 1946 she wrote over two hundred scripts covering every conceivable genre for stars such as Mary Pickford, Gary Cooper, Greta Garbo, Marion Davies, Rudolph Valentino, Clark Gable, Marion D Frances Marion was Hollywood's highest paid screenwriter - male or female - for almost three decades. She was the first woman to twice win an Academy Award for screenwriting. From 1916 to 1946 she wrote over two hundred scripts covering every conceivable genre for stars such as Mary Pickford, Gary Cooper, Greta Garbo, Marion Davies, Rudolph Valentino, Clark Gable, Marion Davies, Rudolph Valentino, Clark Gable, and Marie Dressler. Irving Thalberg "adored her and trusted her completely, " William Randolph Hearst named her for the head of west coast production for his Cosmopolitan studios, and in 1928, Sam Goldwyn raised her salary to an unparalleled $3,000 a week. Her stories were directed by George Cukor, John Ford, Alan Dwan, and King Vidor, and she went on to direct and produce a dozen films on her own. On top of all this, she painted, sculpted, spoke several languages fluently, and played "concert caliber" piano. Though she married four times, had two sons, and a dozen lovers, Frances's life story is mostly the story of her female friendships. As talented, successful, and prolific as Frances Marion was, these relationships were as legendary as her scripts. Without Lying Down is an eminently readable and meticulously documented portrait of a previously hidden era that was arguably one of the most creative and supportive for women in American history.


Compare
Ads Banner

Frances Marion was Hollywood's highest paid screenwriter - male or female - for almost three decades. She was the first woman to twice win an Academy Award for screenwriting. From 1916 to 1946 she wrote over two hundred scripts covering every conceivable genre for stars such as Mary Pickford, Gary Cooper, Greta Garbo, Marion Davies, Rudolph Valentino, Clark Gable, Marion D Frances Marion was Hollywood's highest paid screenwriter - male or female - for almost three decades. She was the first woman to twice win an Academy Award for screenwriting. From 1916 to 1946 she wrote over two hundred scripts covering every conceivable genre for stars such as Mary Pickford, Gary Cooper, Greta Garbo, Marion Davies, Rudolph Valentino, Clark Gable, Marion Davies, Rudolph Valentino, Clark Gable, and Marie Dressler. Irving Thalberg "adored her and trusted her completely, " William Randolph Hearst named her for the head of west coast production for his Cosmopolitan studios, and in 1928, Sam Goldwyn raised her salary to an unparalleled $3,000 a week. Her stories were directed by George Cukor, John Ford, Alan Dwan, and King Vidor, and she went on to direct and produce a dozen films on her own. On top of all this, she painted, sculpted, spoke several languages fluently, and played "concert caliber" piano. Though she married four times, had two sons, and a dozen lovers, Frances's life story is mostly the story of her female friendships. As talented, successful, and prolific as Frances Marion was, these relationships were as legendary as her scripts. Without Lying Down is an eminently readable and meticulously documented portrait of a previously hidden era that was arguably one of the most creative and supportive for women in American history.

30 review for Without Lying Down: Screenwriter Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood

  1. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    This is my go-to book when I want to be inspired. I've ready it many, many, many times. I find Francis Marion's life and love of writing exhilarating. She paved the road for screenwriters and no one cared if she was female... that came later when the businessmen saw how much money was to be had. Ahh, the innocent days. Also, a fun read for old Hollywood lovers.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Linda Robinson

    If you're passionate about the early movie industry, this is the excellent book to read. Before Hollywood was Hollywood, it was orange groves and dirt roads, and a fistful of pioneers, many of whom were women. Frances Marion, Anita Loos, Marion Davies, Mary Pickford (not the shy, petite ingenue we see on the screen). In the early days of the moving picture business, Frances Marion was the highest paid screenwriter in the world. Women were the directors, the writers, the producers, the people who If you're passionate about the early movie industry, this is the excellent book to read. Before Hollywood was Hollywood, it was orange groves and dirt roads, and a fistful of pioneers, many of whom were women. Frances Marion, Anita Loos, Marion Davies, Mary Pickford (not the shy, petite ingenue we see on the screen). In the early days of the moving picture business, Frances Marion was the highest paid screenwriter in the world. Women were the directors, the writers, the producers, the people who got the actors to show up, and got the films to the screens. Cari Beauchamp is a spot-on researcher, and an accomplished storyteller. Who could ask for more? I can. I'd like a new book about women in film after WWII. How did all of them get booted out of town?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Beth Cato

    This book reminds me of why I adore book research and nonfiction reading. Without Lying Down is fabulous and fascinating as it follows the life of Frances Marion, the most highly paid screenplay writers of early Hollywood. Back when she started in silent movies, women were everywhere in Hollywood, and for a big reason: movies were not regarded as a legitimate business enterprise. Women told the stories they wanted to tell, and to great success--for a while. As movies were increasingly censored, This book reminds me of why I adore book research and nonfiction reading. Without Lying Down is fabulous and fascinating as it follows the life of Frances Marion, the most highly paid screenplay writers of early Hollywood. Back when she started in silent movies, women were everywhere in Hollywood, and for a big reason: movies were not regarded as a legitimate business enterprise. Women told the stories they wanted to tell, and to great success--for a while. As movies were increasingly censored, as the industry became bigger, women were shuttled off to one side. Frances is an inspiration, truly. I first came to know her as one of the main characters in a novel called Girls in the Picture which focused on her close friendship with Mary Pickford. I loved getting to know her more in this book (one of the source books for the fiction piece). The title alone says so much about Frances as a person. The full quote is, "I spent my life searching for a man to look up to without lying down." If you have any interest in early Hollywood, do yourself a favor and get this book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    Frances Marion was an AMAZING woman and I must say I had never heard of her, had no idea. She was the highest paid screenwriter pretty much ever (a huge deal in 1930's Hollywood) and was also an accomplished sculptor and concert pianist. She and her husband, a movie cowboy, had a huge farm with probably a gazillion animals. She was friends with people in the Algonquin Circle and also worked with most of the big female stars of the time (Mary Pickford, Theda Bara, Greta Garbo...) Fascinating descr Frances Marion was an AMAZING woman and I must say I had never heard of her, had no idea. She was the highest paid screenwriter pretty much ever (a huge deal in 1930's Hollywood) and was also an accomplished sculptor and concert pianist. She and her husband, a movie cowboy, had a huge farm with probably a gazillion animals. She was friends with people in the Algonquin Circle and also worked with most of the big female stars of the time (Mary Pickford, Theda Bara, Greta Garbo...) Fascinating description of early LA/Hollywood, the film industry, and feminism in the early/mid-1900's.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    It's hard for me to rate this book, because reading it was such a journey, and so different an experience from all the fiction I've been reading recently. Frances Marion lived a full, impressive, and inspiring life. She was linked with so many interesting people, many of whom I already knew a little about before reading this book, and some of whom were completely new to me. Her cohorts included Marie Dressler, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Irving Thalberg, Louis B. Mayer, Hedda Hopper, Greta It's hard for me to rate this book, because reading it was such a journey, and so different an experience from all the fiction I've been reading recently. Frances Marion lived a full, impressive, and inspiring life. She was linked with so many interesting people, many of whom I already knew a little about before reading this book, and some of whom were completely new to me. Her cohorts included Marie Dressler, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Irving Thalberg, Louis B. Mayer, Hedda Hopper, Greta Garbo, Joan Blondell, W.R. Hearst, Marion Davies, Clark Gable, Lillian Gish, Samuel Goldwyn, Jean Harlow, Joe Kennedy, Anita Loos, ZaSu Pitts, Adela Rogers St. Johns, Norma Shearer, Gloria Swanson, Norma Talmadge, and Lois Weber--and those are just the major players in the story! Needless to say, its riveting stuff, but it can also be tricky at times to keep track of everyone. If you have any interest at all in early Hollywood and/or strong creative women, and you're in the mood for an expansive biography, this book, a breathtaking work of biographical scholarship, is a good choice.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Madeline

    My picks in biography tend to be a little on the doomed side (Nijinsky, Louise Brooks, T. E. Lawrence), so it's nice to read a biography of someone who wasn't . . . a mess. (Colette is victorious, but still a mess.) It's also rare to read a really charming biography, so if you're looking for one - here it is. Anyway, I've seen a good chunk of Frances Marion-scripted films, although I don't think any of them hold a special place in my heart, but I didn't know much about her as an individual since My picks in biography tend to be a little on the doomed side (Nijinsky, Louise Brooks, T. E. Lawrence), so it's nice to read a biography of someone who wasn't . . . a mess. (Colette is victorious, but still a mess.) It's also rare to read a really charming biography, so if you're looking for one - here it is. Anyway, I've seen a good chunk of Frances Marion-scripted films, although I don't think any of them hold a special place in my heart, but I didn't know much about her as an individual since she doesn't have the kind of cultural capital that the movie stars (or even Hedda Hopper) does. Also, stories about women doing well in Hollywood don't show up that often or get much publicity when they do. Frances Marion herself is vivid: witty, talented, self-aware, loyal, clear-eyed, self-confident. (So many affairs with younger men! So many marriages!) It's interesting, too, that her strongest and most important relationships were her friendships with other women. But there was something a little bit lacking in Without Lying Down. It's kind of scattered and disorganized (not everyone is as vivid as Marion), and falls prey to that frequent biography problem of rushing the last twenty years together. There's not much discussion of the films themselves - understandable, but disappointing all the same - or of Marion's literary output. (You get the impression Beauchamp hasn't read the novels and short stories, although Marion was clearly proud of them.) I think Frances Marion could have stood up to a denser biography, even at the expense of the considerable charm of this one. Still, it's really interesting and entertaining, and would make a good Mother's Day gift.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nora

    If you are seeking out info on early Hollywood then this is the book for you. So well researched and written - it is FULL of trivia tidbits that once again prove that truth is stranger than fiction. If looking for companion books to this one, I would suggest reading "A Girl Like I" by Anita Loos, then this one - Without Lying Down - and then read another of Ms. Beauchamp's books, "Adventures of a Hollywood Secretary". The additional books will give you an even more well-rounded view of what "Wit If you are seeking out info on early Hollywood then this is the book for you. So well researched and written - it is FULL of trivia tidbits that once again prove that truth is stranger than fiction. If looking for companion books to this one, I would suggest reading "A Girl Like I" by Anita Loos, then this one - Without Lying Down - and then read another of Ms. Beauchamp's books, "Adventures of a Hollywood Secretary". The additional books will give you an even more well-rounded view of what "Without Lying Down" provides.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brooke Stephenson

    *clap clap clap clap* What a wonderful book written about an amazing woman. I'm always interested in this era of film making and I wasn't aware that women held such a large part, being directors, camera, editors and like the lovely Frances, screenwriting. I couldn't put this down, very well written and I felt myself pulling for Ms. Marion through all the trying times, laughing during silliest and crying a tear or too with her in heartbreak. I highly recommend this bio and it will be on my repeat sh *clap clap clap clap* What a wonderful book written about an amazing woman. I'm always interested in this era of film making and I wasn't aware that women held such a large part, being directors, camera, editors and like the lovely Frances, screenwriting. I couldn't put this down, very well written and I felt myself pulling for Ms. Marion through all the trying times, laughing during silliest and crying a tear or too with her in heartbreak. I highly recommend this bio and it will be on my repeat shelf.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gatlin

    This is an important book for movie lovers, especially of older movies, feminists, and history buffs. Frances Marion was at one time the highest paid movie screenwriter in the world. Women entered the movie industry, in many technical fields, at a higher pace than today. Why? Because in the early years, before it became a big business, women were able to be cross trained in film jobs besides acting and continuity "girls". Marion was one of the fortunate; if she had been born twenty years later s This is an important book for movie lovers, especially of older movies, feminists, and history buffs. Frances Marion was at one time the highest paid movie screenwriter in the world. Women entered the movie industry, in many technical fields, at a higher pace than today. Why? Because in the early years, before it became a big business, women were able to be cross trained in film jobs besides acting and continuity "girls". Marion was one of the fortunate; if she had been born twenty years later she probably would not have had the success she did as a movie writer. By the 1940s, women were slowly being weeded out - even by today's standards, film and television, is still a male dominated field, behind and in front of the camera. Frances had a fascinating life and was a triple threat. She was of the same generation as Eleanor Roosevelt, Louise Bryant, Anita Loos, and Mary Pickford; all women who lived life outside the home in the public eye.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alexis Marnel

    GREAT chronicle not only of the life of Frances Marion but also how men did not take the movies seriously until they discovered women were becoming wealthy writing, creating and producing films. One of my favorite quotes is from this book "I just want a man I can look up to without lying down" - Frances Marion.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    i did not know she was the screenwriter for so many of my favorite ealy hollywood movies. also didn't know there were so many female screenwriters back then. favorite quote " I spent my life searching for a man I could look up to without lying down" but the title ,of the book, based on the quote, belies the great repect she had for Irving Thalberg and also her husband, Fred Thomson

  12. 5 out of 5

    Greta

    Bio of Marion, with lots of information on women screenwriters and how they were eventually forced out by studio politics and the increasing bureaucratization of Hollywood. Includes list of FM films in archival collections, very valuable

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Loe

    Another one that I only wish I could have written. Brilliant book about a fascinating time.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    The best book written about early Hollywood film making ever. The best biography I ever read. I learned so much and really LIKED Marion.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Excellent book! This is one I always keep close at hand -- for reference, for inspiration, for the sheer joy of it. What would we have done without Frances Marion?

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeannine

    I wanted to like this book, but didn't. While it is supposedly about Frances Marion, the famous scenario writer for Mary Pickford and, later, an Oscar winner for movies such as The Champ and The Big House, it's really about women in Hollywood. Which is fine, and even interesting. Early film offered women real, interesting work either through acting or writing or both, however, you can figure this out for yourself without the author explaining it to you, and that's one of the things that bugged m I wanted to like this book, but didn't. While it is supposedly about Frances Marion, the famous scenario writer for Mary Pickford and, later, an Oscar winner for movies such as The Champ and The Big House, it's really about women in Hollywood. Which is fine, and even interesting. Early film offered women real, interesting work either through acting or writing or both, however, you can figure this out for yourself without the author explaining it to you, and that's one of the things that bugged me about this book. The second thing that made me uncomfortable with the book was something I couldn't put my finger on until I read the acknowledgements in the back of the book when the author says Gloria Swanson refused to let anyone write her biography and when asked why responded, "All biographers, no matter how sympathetic, end up using their subjects as mirrors to figure themselves out. I don't want to be anyone's mirror." And that describes the feeling I had the entire time reading this book, that is was the author's opinions and interpretations I was reading and not necessarily that of Frances Marion. (There is a photograph in the book with several people gathered on a step. Marion is in the background looking bored off to the side while Douglas Fairbanks hams it up in the foreground and the caption says Marion's gaze seems to be a reflection of her opinion of the Fairbanks/Pickford romance, when of course, maybe she was just looking at a bird off camera). Throughout the book, I felt the author was using Marion to back up her own political views or thoughts in general, even the title is strange and more a reflection of the author than Marion. Because of the author's intrusion, and because she used exhaustive information from other works (auto bios/bios, etc), I would go to those sources first before reading this. While the book is very detailed and probably should be on your bookshelf for reference if you are a silent-film enthusiast, the structure of the book is cluttered. There will be a snippet about Frances Marion meeting, say, Mary Pickford for the first time, and the author interrupts the action and morphs into an exhaustive biography of that person, sometimes morphing into more biographies in the same scene. It's confusing and hard to reenter the original action when she eventually returns to it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nicola Pierce

    My God, how I loved this book. I didn't want it to end - I didn't want her to die. All I can is if you have any interest in women, the film industry and writing then this is the book for you. It is a big book and I don't think that I'll ever re-read it but I will admit that the next thing I'm going to do is find a photo of Frances Marion, print it out and put it up on the wall over my desk because this woman, who died 43 years ago, is an inspiration to me in 2015, both on a personal and a profes My God, how I loved this book. I didn't want it to end - I didn't want her to die. All I can is if you have any interest in women, the film industry and writing then this is the book for you. It is a big book and I don't think that I'll ever re-read it but I will admit that the next thing I'm going to do is find a photo of Frances Marion, print it out and put it up on the wall over my desk because this woman, who died 43 years ago, is an inspiration to me in 2015, both on a personal and a professional level. The author, Cari Beauchamp, also includes an enthralling history of Marion's friends including the likes of Mary Pickford, Marion Davies, Lilian Gish, Anita Loos and Hedda Hopper, to name just a few. In fact I've never seen Hedda Hopper portrayed so favourably before. It is also a portrayal of change. Marion was practically holding the film industry together, in the early years, but by the time she reaches late middle-age she has already been mostly forgotten. Yet, for all her success, she continues to expand her mind and interest through new hobbies like sculpture, painting and learning to play any number of instruments. This is how she survives change while others like Mary Pickford, who only knew how to make films, are sadly left behind. You could almost believe that before she was born someone handed Marion a user manual on how to get the best from your life. Forget about self-help books, 'Without Lying Down' is full of lessons on how to live a rounded and compassionate life. I know little/absolutely nothing about Beauchamp herself, there was no detailed blog about her, but however way she brings her subjects to life made me really, really like her too.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Simoa

    I was heartened to read in the author notes that Cari Beauchamp called Frances Marion her friend. She feels like a friend to me too. All the credit goes to Beauchamp for such a vivid style which carried over all that dense studio & movie history into something truly entertaining and illuminating. Frances Marion said writing is a refuge for the shy. She was proclaimed to be as beautiful if not more beautiful than the movie stars she wrote for, but she never desired to be in front of the cameras. I was heartened to read in the author notes that Cari Beauchamp called Frances Marion her friend. She feels like a friend to me too. All the credit goes to Beauchamp for such a vivid style which carried over all that dense studio & movie history into something truly entertaining and illuminating. Frances Marion said writing is a refuge for the shy. She was proclaimed to be as beautiful if not more beautiful than the movie stars she wrote for, but she never desired to be in front of the cameras. She was a remarkable wit and a champion of women. I really believe she succeeded in looking up to men without lying down. But really, all of them should have been looking up to her.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Frank

    Ms. Beauchamp's biography of Frances Marion has some wonderful observations on the nature of Hollywood from the early days into the '40s and provides a welcome behind-the-scenes look at some of Marion's best films. I also enjoyed the background on many of her co-workers, particularly other women like June Mathis, Mary Pickford and Adela Rogers St. John who helped shape American filmmaking in the early years.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Frances Marion was amazing. As with most biographies, though, I found myself getting depressed at the end as deaths became more frequent and the excitement, creativity, and freedom of being a pioneer in Hollywood died off as the studios grew in power.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Hailey H

    Very detailed, very well done. A wonderful look at a wonderful woman, a must read for fans of Old Hollywood and women in film. Frances is truly a trailblazer and it was a joy to read about her adventures and successes in the business.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kit Fox

    Frances Marion sounds like the coolest lady. She also wrote some very good flicker shows too. An awesome chronicle of a time in Hollywood history when women actually had a lot of power.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Excellent look at the role of women in Hollywood's birth, and one woman's inspirational journey & value system throughout. Excellent look at the role of women in Hollywood's birth, and one woman's inspirational journey & value system throughout.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    Really enjoyed this particular telling of the early days of Hollywood from a woman writer's perspective.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Margo

    Great early Hollywood/L.A. History. Biography of a woman who was a prolific screenwriter and director... knew everyone. Funny stories about what L.A. was like just as the movie industry took over.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jon Boorstin

    A fine look at Frances Marion, and the forgotten role of women in the early movies, when the world was more closed to women, and movies more open.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Steffi

    Excellent book, highly recommended. It is wonderful to learn about the women who helped shape Hollywood.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Martha Hann

    Frances Marion was the highest paid screenwriter/scenarist for a couple of decades. This was a great history of women in the movie industry.

  29. 5 out of 5

    rêveur d'art

    Without Lying Down: Screenwriter Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood is a masterful work, written by a film historian who is also an excellent researcher and storyteller. Cari Beauchamp, the author, manages to be objective throughout the book, while being true to her subjects. In equal measure, she tells the stories of Frances Marion and other powerful women who worked behind and before the camera, but also tells the histories of the people Frances Marion met along the way, Without Lying Down: Screenwriter Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood is a masterful work, written by a film historian who is also an excellent researcher and storyteller. Cari Beauchamp, the author, manages to be objective throughout the book, while being true to her subjects. In equal measure, she tells the stories of Frances Marion and other powerful women who worked behind and before the camera, but also tells the histories of the people Frances Marion met along the way, in a concise and impeccably interesting manner. There's enough material in Frances Marion's story as it is, but by introducing you to the people she met, which were most people in Hollywood during the time she worked there, she lets you understand where those people were in their lives when they met Frances. Likewise, she does a masterful job of letting you in to the time periods that this book is set. I would go as far as to say that a non-classic Hollywood fan could read this book. She's one of the few Film Historians I've read who understands how to introduce a subject of this magnitude to a newcomer. Even for those who've studied classic Hollywood cinema, and especially Silent Cinema, will find new information here. This is a story that needed to be told, and please don't be put off by the title, the men she met and worked with gets plenty of written space, as well. Frances Marion often didn't get credit for her work, so you will probably be surprised by some of the films she worked on and some of the stars she worked with. Frances Marion grew up in San Francisco where she enjoyed reading, writing, painting and being creative. She experienced the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 which would leave a huge expression on her. She went to Hollywood not that long after and experienced Hollywood as it grew into what it would become: a film colony. She met early on the people she would later write for, people like Marie Dressler, Mary Pickford and others. “Los Angeles in 1912 was a sprawling flatland stretching between the ocean and the mountains. Within a thirty-five-mile radius, there were forty incorporated towns, and it was close to impossible to know where one ended and another began. While the southern California land boom of the 1880s had not brought the number of people who swarmed northern California in the Gold Rush, it had induced a variety of characters to seek out the sun and a new life. Families determined to create their own little utopias bought several hundred or thousands of acres at a time, primarily from the Spanish land grants that still dominated the area, infusing the new communities with their Midwestern values.” Many felt she should become an actress as she was a ravishingly beautiful woman, and while Frances Marion could act, her sensibilities were to the behind the scenes work. The first person that she learned her craft from and who helped her grow was Lois Weber: "Lois Weber had a reputation for supporting other women, and encouraged actresses such as Gene Gauntier, Cleo Madison, and Dorothy Davenport to direct. Lois also had a sense of purpose that went beyond the creative spirit that drew others to the business." Frances Marion was still very young and throughout her twenties she would grow as a writer in this still young film colony. She worked for different studios in Hollywood, but also worked for a New York film company for a long while. She worked frequently with Mary Pickford, at the time, and many of Mary Pickford's best films were written by Frances Marion. During WWI she was well paid and didn't have to do war work, but she wanted to do her part in the war effort. Her main task was to get ideas for a WWI film she wanted to make, but she experienced some of the horrors of WWI close hand, too, and it would leave its mark on her. "Their task was to film the work of the Allied women. More than 20,000 American women served overseas during the war—10,000 as nurses in the army and navy and a few thousand under the auspices of the Red Cross, the YMCA, and the Salvation Army. Several hundred women were telephone operators with the Army Signal Corps and still others served as doctors, entertainers, canteen workers, interpreters, dentists, therapists, decoders, and in a myriad of other roles. Most of the one thousand professional entertainers who joined the war effort were connected to either the Overseas Theater League or the YMCA and over half were women." “The vastness, the immensity, the awfulness of what I saw as I kept moving along with the front line engagements was utterly beyond my powers of comprehension, let alone my ability to describe or scenarioize [sic]. . . . I could not write of the war, of the agonies, of the bravery of our boys or the things they endured—I simply couldn’t do it.” Still, she continually worked on ways to shape their film into a cohesive story and whenever the truck wasn’t too bumpy or the candle still had a flame, she took her notes and occasionally turned to writing comedy vignettes “for relief from the strain.” A Paris school was bombed during the raid and dozens of French children were killed. This reality of the war hit Frances harder than hearing the guns of the front; nothing was sacred and she was learning it firsthand." She also caught the international flu epidemic of 1918 when it hit, but she recovered. She discovered that she was "the first correspondent and the first American woman to cross the Rhine," while her friend Elsie Janis "was credited with seeing more of the front than any officer." A bright spot was that during WWI she met her future husband, Fred Thomson. They were happily married for 9 years until he died incredibly young, in 1928. Throughout the 1920s she became a well-respected and highly sought screenwriter, and considered by many to be the best. She worked for William Randolph Hearst, frequently, and she was one of the few who could challenge him. She persisted with him that Marion Davies talent lay in comedy. If you have a favorite comedy with Marion Davies after the war, it was probably written by Frances Marion. By the late 1920s she decided to work permanently for MGM. She liked and respected Irving Thalberg, and they would support each other through many films through the years. Working in Hollywood meant that she often had to bend, to meet the boss’s demands and the Hays Office rules, as well. She had a gift for getting along with people and it was this gift that cemented her success in the business. She continued to write for many of the great stars in the business throughout the 1930s and 1940s, and you might be surprised by how many in the business she helped. She wrote stories in all genres: westerns, comedies, dramas, historicals, and war pictures. You name it. My thoughts only give a little taste of this book, but it's filled with great insights into the movie business of the studio era. I highly recommend this book. I would go as far as to say that it's a must read. There's a documentary that was made based on the book under the same name, and while I haven't seen it, I've heard great things about it. I think she needs more attention from modern cinephiles as a pioneer, having written many of Hollywood's greatest films. I leave you with a taster from the introduction of the book: “As Frances Marion rose to accept the Academy Award for Screenwriting for her original story The Big House, she became the first woman writer to win an Oscar. Since 1917, she had been the highest-paid screenwriter in Hollywood—male or female—and was hailed as “the all-time best script and story writer the motion picture world has ever produced.” Just forty and “as beautiful as the stars she wrote for,” Frances was already credited with writing over one hundred produced films.” “There was Mary Pickford, who called Frances “the pillar of my career,” for she had written Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Pollyanna, A Little Princess, and a dozen more of Pickford’s greatest successes. Frances was also her best friend and had seen her through her divorce from Owen Moore and marriage to Douglas Fairbanks; Frances and Mary had even honeymooned with their new husbands together in Europe. Irving Thalberg was the “boy genius of Hollywood,” but Frances called him “my rock of Gibraltar” and he was the only man in the room whose opinion she truly valued and respected. He in turn “adored her and trusted her completely.” “George Cukor was still a young emerging talent at RKO, but they were to become lifelong friends after making Dinner at Eight and Camille together. Cukor called Frances a “Holy Wonder—so ravishingly beautiful and so talented.” “And there was Adela Rogers St. Johns, her friend since their girlhood in San Francisco. Adela would also be nominated for Best Original Story in 1932, but lose to Frances when she won her second Oscar for The Champ. Yet Adela harbored no jealousy of the woman she claimed was “touched with genius. As a writer, she is the unquestioned head of her profession. . . . As a woman, she is a philanthropist, a patroness of young artists, and herself the most brilliant, versatile and accomplished person in Hollywood.” “Privately, she was proud of her Oscar for The Big House because she had conquered a variety of obstacles to create a realistic film where for the first time audiences heard prison doors slam shut, inmates’ steps shuffle down the corridors, and metal cups bang on the mess tables.” “Eventually Frances was credited with writing 325 scripts covering every conceivable genre. She also directed and produced half a dozen films, was the first Allied woman to cross the Rhine in World War I, and served as the vice president and only woman on the first board of directors of the Screen Writers Guild. She painted, sculpted, spoke several languages fluently, and played “concert caliber” piano. Yet she claimed writing was “the refuge of the shy” and she shunned publicity; she was uncomfortable as a heroine, but she refused to be a victim.” “While Photoplay mused that “Strangely enough, women outrank men as continuity writers,” it wasn’t strange to them. Women had always found sanctuary in writing; it was accomplished in private and provided a creative vent when little was expected or accepted of a woman other than to be a good wife and mother. For Frances and her friends, a virtue was derived from oppression; with so little expected of them, they were free to accomplish much. They were drawn to a business that, for a time, not only allowed, but welcomed women. And Cleo Madison, Gene Gauntier, Lois Weber, Ruth Ann Baldwin, Dorothy Arzner, Margaret Booth, Blanche Sewall, Anne Bauchens, and hundreds of other women flocked to Hollywood, where they could flourish, not just as actresses or writers, but also as directors, producers, and editors. With few taking moviemaking seriously as a business, the doors were wide open to women.” “Today, names of screenwriters like Zoe Akins, Jeanie Macpherson, Beulah Marie Dix, Lenore Coffee, Anita Loos, June Mathis, Bess Meredyth, Jane Murfin, Adela Rogers St. Johns, Sonya Levien, and Salka Viertel are too often found only in the footnotes of Hollywood histories. But seventy years ago, they were highly paid, powerful players at the studios that churned out films at the rate of one a week. And for over twenty-five years, no writer was more sought after than Frances Marion; with her versatile pen and a caustic wit, she was a leading participant and witness to one of the most creative eras for women in American history.” She won Academy Awards for writing The Big House and The Champ. I sincerely hope more film fans will give this book a chance! Read from August 21 to September 09, 2013

  30. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    This is one of the best books about Hollywood and the early film business that I've ever read. Frances Marion is not a household name but it should be. She was an amazing woman for her day, for ANY day. She was pretty enough to be an actress yet was committed to be a writer and has 350 scripts to her credit. Cari Beauchamp has put together one of the most insightful books about the business because it touches on so many people, in the film industry, in politics, in the arts, in business and beca This is one of the best books about Hollywood and the early film business that I've ever read. Frances Marion is not a household name but it should be. She was an amazing woman for her day, for ANY day. She was pretty enough to be an actress yet was committed to be a writer and has 350 scripts to her credit. Cari Beauchamp has put together one of the most insightful books about the business because it touches on so many people, in the film industry, in politics, in the arts, in business and because she was a journalist, the entire world during the first half of the 20th century. Marion worked for William Hearst, Irving Thalberg and Mary Pickford, and many others. Her friends were actors and actresses, producers and playwrights, musicians and artists. She fell in love with a man named Fred Thompson whose calling was to be a minister. He was handsome and an athletic champion. She gave up $50,000.00 per year writing scripts in Hollywood to be a correspondent in Germany and France during WWI at the same time Thompson was stationed abroad. After the war they married and his athletic abilities and good looks helped him become one of the biggest stars of his day. Thompson's positive films enabled him to reach more people throughout the country than had he preached from a pulpit. Marion knew Joseph Kennedy and the book reveals some unsavory things Kennedy did to gain power in the industry. Yet, despite the wrong her husband endured from a bad distribution deal with Kennedy, Marion always had a great respect for his wife, Rose. Marion continually helped her friends by writing scripts for them to help keep them busy working. She was a master at doctoring other scripts. With the explosion of sound, the industry grew exponentially and censorship changed the business, making writing by committee an unpleasant reality. Unlike books about a specific actor, or specific studio, this book takes us deeper into the workings of the business and how it developed from the silent era when writers were involved in all aspects of creating a film: casting, directing and producing, to a more complicated corporate structure that we know today. One aspect of Frances Marions life that gave the book a special importance to me was that Marion loved Marie Dressler and helped revive her career, bringing her out of 'retirement' by writing MIN AND BILL for her. Dressler won best actress Oscar for the role. My great grandmother worked with Marie Dressler on Broadway and worked as her double in Hollywood, so this book really helped to know Marie better. Marion was a gifted pianist, sculptor and painter. She was multi-lingual. She moved to New York later in life to write for the theater. It's an incredible book about an incredible person. If you know about silent film and love the history of the business, even if you're just curious, I can't recommend this book enough.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.