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The Girls in the Picture

An enlightening portrait of two creative and powerful women who helped shape Hollywood.


SUMMARY THE GIRLS IN THE PICTURE is a look behind the scenes at the earliest days of Hollywood and the friendship between two legends. Mary Pickford known as the girl with the curls, was America’s first sweetheart. She was a international superstar, who was mobbed upon her first time arrival in London. She was the first actor to have her name put on a movie marque and she was the first to win an Academy Award for Best Actress in a talkie for Coquette. She was also a smart business woman who along with Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin founded United Artists. The three also toured the US together in 1918, promoting Liberty Bonds for WWI. When she married Douglas Fairbanks in 1920 the two became the reining royalty of Hollywood.

Frances Marion, was a creative genius, who won two Academy Awards for screenwriting. In 1931 she won for The Big House and in 1932 she won for The Champ. She wrote scripts for over 300 of early Hollywood’s beloved movies. In addition to writing for Pickford, she wrote for Harlow, Dietrich and Garbo and many other of Hollywood’s earliest stars. She travel overseas during WWI as a combat correspondent and made a film of women’s contribution to the war effort on the front lines. She was the first woman to cross the Rhine after the Armistice.

“Perhaps the simplest formula for a plot is: invent some colorful personalities, involve them in an apparently hopeless complication or predicament, then extricate them in a logical and dramatic way that brings them happiness.”

REVIEW THE GIRLS IN THE PICTURE is an intriguing historical fiction story. One that keeps you wondering what is real and what is fiction. An authors note helps with that, but what is undoubtably real is the achievements of these two fascinating women, and that alone is enough to make this book enjoyable for anyone who loves read about strong women trailblazers. Here are two indomitable women who were way ahead of their time. Most impressive were the accomplishments and countenance of Frances Marion.

MELANIE BENJAMIN created a compelling but somewhat long book. Despite its length, the writing is vivid and seemingly effortless. I loved the theme of the friendship and support between these two women, who when working together in the early years were almost unstoppable. Chapters alternate between Mary and Frances, and Frances’s chapters were smartly written in first person perspective, while Mary’s were in third person. Something Mary, who always wanted to be front and center, may not have liked very much.

The story even touched on the beginnings of casting couches, sexism and abuse in Hollywood by studio owners, producers and investors. And if the recent news is any indication, it hasn’t stopped yet.

Thanks to LibraryThing, Delacorte Press and Melanie Benjamin for an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for a honest review. Book Published January 16, 2018.

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