Book Review – The Girls in the Picture; Bringing Early Female Film Pioneers to Life

SYNOPSIS

It is 1914, and twenty-five-year-old Frances Marion has left her (second) husband and her Northern California home for the lure of Los Angeles, where she is determined to live independently as an artist. But the word on everyone’s lips these days is “flickers”—the silent moving pictures enthralling theatergoers. Turn any corner in this burgeoning town and you’ll find made-up actors running around, as a movie camera captures it all.

In this fledgling industry, Frances finds her true calling: writing stories for this wondrous new medium. She also makes the acquaintance of actress Mary Pickford, whose signature golden curls and lively spirit have earned her the title “America’s Sweetheart.” The two ambitious young women hit it off instantly, their kinship fomented by their mutual fever to create, to move audiences to a frenzy, to start a revolution.

But their ambitions are challenged by both the men around them and the limitations imposed on their gender—and their astronomical success could come at a price. As Mary, the world’s highest paid and most beloved actress, struggles to live her life under the spotlight, she also wonders if it is possible to find love, even with the dashing actor Douglas Fairbanks. Frances, too, longs to share her life with someone. As in any good Hollywood story, dramas will play out, personalities will clash, and even the deepest friendships might be shattered.

With cameos from such notables as Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Rudolph Valentino, and Lillian Gish, The Girls in the Picture is, at its heart, a story of friendship and forgiveness. Melanie Benjamin brilliantly captures the dawn of a glittering new era—its myths and icons, its possibilities and potential, and its seduction and heartbreak. Continue reading “Book Review – The Girls in the Picture; Bringing Early Female Film Pioneers to Life”

Silent Film Review -Sunrise (1927)

SUMMARY

During a summer holiday, a modern young woman from the city visits the countryside. While there, she strikes up an affair with a once happily married farmer. It’s a destructive affair, leading the farmer almost to the edge of personal and financial ruin. Not to mention the breaking of his wife’s heart.

As the end of summer nears, the home-wrecking mistress begs the farmer to follow her back to the city. When he mentions his wife, she darkly suggests it would be great if she could “get drowned.” Under her spell, the farmer agrees to take his wife out on the lake. Suspecting nothing, his wife’s happy to have a day out to herself with her husband. Until she sees the look in his eye. But, when it comes time to follow through, the husband’s tormented by the memories of his wife’s goodness and their happiness together.

Watching Sunrise actually brought to mind Proverbs’ warnings to a young man about the dangers of an evil woman. Although I’m sure Sunrise had different inspiration, in some ways, I felt like I was watching those biblical admonishments come to life.

To read my full review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat.

 

Classic Film Review -The Sheik (1921)

SUMMARY

In The Sheik, Lady Diana Mayo is an aristocratic orphan visiting the African town of Biskra.  With only her brother to guide her, she has become wild, independent and naively fearless. Diana plans an extended tour of the desert with no one other than a local guide to protect her. Her local fellow British aristocrats warn Diana about the dangers to a local single woman travelling alone, but they she ignores them.

The night before her departure, Diana visits a local casino. To her dismay, she is denied entrance because of a private party for a young sheik. In defiance, Diana disguises herself and sneaks into the casino. It is not long until she is discovered by the Sheik, Ahmed Ben Hassan. Though he expels her, she has also caught his eye. Diana finds him equally fascinating.

Not long after she heads into the desert, Diana and her guide are surrounded by what appear to be Bedouin warriors. But, as she soon discovers, it is Ahmed. He quickly abducts her, whisking her away to his desert camp. Ahmed has his own plans for Diana, but she refuses him at every turn. It is a battle of the wills and wits. The sheik is accustomed to immediate obedience but Diana is not about to surrender her independence.

Though, she attempts to escape, eventually Diana accepts her gilded prison. But she still refuses to yield her heart to Ahmed. Just when she finally comes to terms with her emotions towards the Sheik, she is kidnapped once again by a bandit with nefarious purposes in mind. This forces both Ahmed and Diana to face the truth about their relationship. Will the Sheik recapture both Diana and her heart?

To read my full review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat.