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

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

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

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

Synopsis

Cari Beauchamp masterfully combines biography with social and cultural history to examine the lives of Frances Marion and her many female colleagues who shaped filmmaking from 1912 through the 1940s. Frances Marion was Hollywood's highest paid screenwriter--male or female--or almost three decades, wrote almost 200 produced films and won Academy Awards for writing "The Big House" and "The Champ."

Excerpt

Wednesday evening, November 5, 1930, Fiesta Room of the Ambassador
Hotel, Los Angeles, California

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. Her importance to MGM was reflected by the fact that films she had written were nominated this evening in seven of the eight award categories—every one but Interior Decoration.

As she looked out from the podium at the six hundred people gathered at the Ambassador, she saw the faces of the friends she had literally grown up with in the business since first arriving in Los Angeles in 1912.

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.”

Greta Garbo still only spoke Swedish when Frances met her sitting on the sidelines of the set of The Scarlet Letter and tonight she was nominated for Best Actress in Anna Christie, adapted for the screen by Frances Marion.

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