WOMEN IN HOLLYWOOD: From Vamp to Studio Head by Dawn B. Sova

WOMEN IN HOLLYWOOD: From Vamp to Studio Head

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Embarrassingly trite and thin look at the history of women and the silver screen. This survey of notable female actors, directors, and writers is remarkable only for its shallowness, assigning approximately half a page of writing to each subject. The general effect is of an even duller version of Who's Who. Sova (Agatha Christie: A to Z, not reviewed, etc.) brings neither wit nor grace to the writing, and she's guilty of any number of gross oversimplifications and off-the-mark summations. But she does illustrate the fact that when movies first began, before the studios had formalized their control over most aspects of the business, women played a significant part, not just as actresses but also in crucial production roles. For example, in 1928, 52 out of the 238 screenplays produced were written by women. By 1940, only 64 of the 608 screenplays produced that year were authored by women. In front of the cameras, actresses were usually paid sizably less than their male counterparts; and their careers rarely lasted past their mid-30s (although some would find limited success eventually playing ""grandmotherly"" roles). It wasn't until the '80s and '90s, as Sova shows, that women began to be represented in significant numbers on the other side of the camera, although actresses continue to flourish briefly in the spotlight. But none of the larger implications of women's experiences in film are to be found in Sova's bare account. Others have covered this territory before and clone it (much) better.

Pub Date: Jan. 17th, 1999
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Fromm