Women in Hollywood

Our Review of the Week features an account of a lesser-known piece of Hollywood’s past

Nobody’s Girl Friday : the women who ran Hollywood

Smyth, J. E. Oxford, 2018
304p bibl index, 9780190840822 $29.95, 9780190840853

In this invaluable book film scholar J. E. Smyth (history, Univ. of Warwick, UK) shows that women were the prime movers in the motion picture industry from the 1890s forward—starting with Alice Guy-Blaché, who directed La Fée aux Choux (1896), which was arguably the first short film with a plot. But it was during the 1930 to 1950 period that women really came to power in Hollywood. Editorial director Margaret Booth supervised the entire output of MGM from the 1930s through the 1960s, and Virginia Van Upp was busy producing films for Columbia, among them the enormous hit Gilda (1946). Bette Davis had a production company of her own at Warner Bros., and Frances Marion enjoyed a long career as a writer and producer at MGM, winning an Academy Award for her screenplay for The Champ (1931). Dorothy Arzner became a much-in-demand director for Paramount, whereas Ida Lupino struck out on her own as a director after a long career as an actor. The list goes on and on. This excellent, detailed account of the women who made Hollywood hum offers an an entirely new vision of Hollywood.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers.
Reviewer: W. W. Dixon, University of Nebraska—Lincoln
Subject: Humanities – Performing Arts – Film
Choice Issue: Nov 2018