WITHOUT LYING DOWN

FRANCES MARION AND THE POWERFUL WOMEN OF EARLY HOLLYWOOD

A biography of the highest-paid female scriptwriter in Hollywood becomes an exploration of the work and sustaining friendships of the leading women of early cinema. Until now Frances Marion has been largely absent from the screenwriters' pantheon, despite a five-decade career that yielded 325 scripts, many for top films (The Champ, Son of the Sheik, Dinner at Eight). Seasoned film reporter Beauchamp (coauthor, Hollywood on the Riviera, 1992) spends no time taking umbrage. Instead she jumps into Marion Benson Owens's two early marriages, a fateful encounter with Marie Dressler as a reporter for Hearst's San Francisco Examiner, and early days in Los Angeles, where she met lifetime friends Adela Rogers and Mary Pickford, and director Lois Weber, who renamed her Frances Marion. After her first scenario in 1915, an already crowded life became dizzying: It included stints with Famous Players, First National, and MGM, new friendships with Hedda Hopper and Anita Loos, and a happy and creatively fruitful marriage to 1920s western star Fred Thomson until his death in 1928. Beauchamp admirably marshals her research and writes with tempered prose. Still, when her subject is so well placed that she witnesses young George Gershwin playing a new piece called Rhapsody in Blue and introduces directors to a tall guy named Frank (later Gary) Cooper, it's hard not to become a little breathless. There's also a gossipy, epic quality that inspires page-turning: Will entertainment mogul Joseph Kennedy hurt Thomson's career? What will Marion do at MGM after her beloved friend Irving Thalberg dies? At the book's conclusion, what stands out are the friendships. As Marion says, `` `Contrary to the assertion that women do all in their power to hinder one another's progress, I have found that it has always been one of my own sex who had given me a helping hand when I needed it.' '' A triumph of discovery in the often strip-mined quarry of film history.

Pub Date: March 24, 1997

ISBN: 0-684-80213-9

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1997

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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