New Novel About Mary Pickford and Frances Marion

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Brooksie

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New Novel About Mary Pickford and Frances Marion

PostTue Jan 16, 2018 1:06 pm

Reviews have started to come out for 'Girls In The Picture' by Melanie Benjamin, a fictionalised retelling of the friendship between Frances Marion and Mary Pickford. Some of the coverage (for example at The AV Club) attempts to link its to the Harvey Weinstein controversy, thanks to ahistorical plotlines such as the young Mary marrying Owen Moore to avoid the advances of D.W. Griffith. It might be interesting, but I think I'd prefer to re-read Cari Beauchamp's definitive biography of Francis Marion instead.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/books/2018/01/16/girls-picture-celebrates-silent-film-friendship-pickford-marion/1018931001/
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maliejandra

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Re: New Novel About Mary Pickford and Frances Marion

PostTue Jan 16, 2018 1:20 pm

Why do people write books like this? Isn't the truth more interesting? I generally avoid fiction that features movie stars because I find they often get it very wrong.
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buskeat

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Re: New Novel About Mary Pickford and Frances Marion

PostTue Jan 16, 2018 4:01 pm

The fictionalization of historical people and events can be really entertaining, but the USA Today article made me seize immediately when it mentioned Gladys Smith changing her name to Mary Pickford in 1914. I'm going to read this book out of curiosity, but I'm a little scared, truthfully.
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rudyfan

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Re: New Novel About Mary Pickford and Frances Marion

PostTue Jan 16, 2018 4:09 pm

Brooksie wrote:I'd prefer to re-read Cari Beauchamp's definitive biography of Francis Marion instead.


Agreed, one of the very best bios committed to the page as far as I'm concerned.
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Harlowgold

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Re: New Novel About Mary Pickford and Frances Marion

PostTue Jan 16, 2018 4:47 pm

maliejandra wrote:Why do people write books like this? Isn't the truth more interesting? I generally avoid fiction that features movie stars because I find they often get it very wrong.


I couldn't agree more - I avoid novels about movie stars like the plague. Often it appears they are just lazy writers borrowing heavily from published nonfiction while throwing in ludicrous and lurid stories. Of course truth is indeed more interesting but that requires real research which many of these authors are too lazy to do.
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Bruce Long

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Re: New Novel About Mary Pickford and Frances Marion

PostWed Jan 17, 2018 5:29 am

I recently came across these words by Willard Bradley in a 1919 issue of "The White Way". His words sure didn't age well!

"We cannot conceive of any sane reason why Mary Pickford should spend forty thousand heart-breakers for a play of the quality of 'Daddy Long Legs,' and then turn the writing of the continuity of it over to a fair incompetent whose only claim to fame is the scribbling of a number of sugary solos for an ingenue of no particular ability and the fact that she began her screen career as a key-tickler in the offices of a Brooklyn film foundry."
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linquist

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Re: New Novel About Mary Pickford and Frances Marion

PostWed Jan 17, 2018 7:38 am

I avoid fictionalized history like the plague, no matter what the field is and these seems to be a thriving industry for the Hollywood version of it. For a long time, I've been trying to find the stomach to read Gore Vidal's Hollywood, about Hearst and Davies, and Vidal worked for the two.
Coinciding with the rise of #MeToo, I ran into the elephant in the silent film room while researching BROKEN BLOSSOMS: Griffith and his fixation with his young ingenues. How much and who is debatable and, really, mot much of it is in the record. But some of these girls had helicopter mothers on the set and off, who protected their daughter's dignity, although their curious daughters could slip through their fingers as Mary and Owen did. What surprised me was the news that Griffith was attempting to buy out Mary Miles Minter's contract in 1918. That fell through. Did her mother have anything to do with that?
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Jim Roots

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Re: New Novel About Mary Pickford and Frances Marion

PostWed Jan 17, 2018 10:49 am

linquist wrote:I avoid fictionalized history like the plague, no matter what the field is and these seems to be a thriving industry for the Hollywood version of it. For a long time, I've been trying to find the stomach to read Gore Vidal's Hollywood, about Hearst and Davies, and Vidal worked for the two.
Coinciding with the rise of #MeToo, I ran into the elephant in the silent film room while researching BROKEN BLOSSOMS: Griffith and his fixation with his young ingenues. How much and who is debatable and, really, mot much of it is in the record. But some of these girls had helicopter mothers on the set and off, who protected their daughter's dignity, although their curious daughters could slip through their fingers as Mary and Owen did. What surprised me was the news that Griffith was attempting to buy out Mary Miles Minter's contract in 1918. That fell through. Did her mother have anything to do with that?


I read Vidal's Hollywood last summer. Although I'm a big fan of Vidal, I found it really disappointing. He actually makes the place boring (which was probably his intention, contrarian that he was). Spare yourself.

Jim
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2 Reel

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Re: New Novel About Mary Pickford and Frances Marion

PostWed Jan 17, 2018 11:15 am

Hard to beat Frances' autobiography Off With Their Heads: A Serio-Comic Tale of Hollywood (1972), which I consider one of the best books on early Hollywood filmmaking. I agree that all the movie fiction books (and films) I've seen veer so far from facts and truth that they are at times cringe-worthy, although I admit I greatly enjoyed Sweet Memories.
They call me "Dangerous Dal"

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