‘Movie Plots Pushed into Prose’: The Extra Girl, Will Hays, and the Novel of Silent Hollywood

‘Movie Plots Pushed into Prose’: The Extra Girl, Will Hays, and the Novel of Silent Hollywood This article examines Hollywood novels from the 1920s within a complex network made up of film narratives, film technology, fan magazines and newspapers, as well as the studios working to contain the movie-crazed fan they had created in the 1910s. Focusing on the novels Minnie Flynn by Frances Marion and The Skyrocket by Adela Rogers St. Johns (both published in 1925), this article argues that 1920s Hollywood fiction dealing with the exploited starlet engages specifically with cinema’s literal silence to retrieve a figurative voice of feminine struggle muted by Hollywood’s promotional apparatus. While studios produced comedy versions of the extra girl narrative to reduce the surplus of aspirants in Hollywood, the female novelists aimed to revise the sugar-coated material of the films in order to prevent young women from putting faith in a system that was embalming youth for profit. This article concludes by exploring the extent to which talkie films such as What Price Hollywood? (1932) and A Star is Born (1937) signal the industry’s absorption of the subversive literary genre. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Adaptation Oxford University Press

‘Movie Plots Pushed into Prose’: The Extra Girl, Will Hays, and the Novel of Silent Hollywood

Adaptation, Volume 7 (3) – Dec 15, 2014

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Publisher
Oxford University Press
Copyright
© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com
ISSN
1755-0637
eISSN
1755-0645
DOI
10.1093/adaptation/apu036
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article examines Hollywood novels from the 1920s within a complex network made up of film narratives, film technology, fan magazines and newspapers, as well as the studios working to contain the movie-crazed fan they had created in the 1910s. Focusing on the novels Minnie Flynn by Frances Marion and The Skyrocket by Adela Rogers St. Johns (both published in 1925), this article argues that 1920s Hollywood fiction dealing with the exploited starlet engages specifically with cinema’s literal silence to retrieve a figurative voice of feminine struggle muted by Hollywood’s promotional apparatus. While studios produced comedy versions of the extra girl narrative to reduce the surplus of aspirants in Hollywood, the female novelists aimed to revise the sugar-coated material of the films in order to prevent young women from putting faith in a system that was embalming youth for profit. This article concludes by exploring the extent to which talkie films such as What Price Hollywood? (1932) and A Star is Born (1937) signal the industry’s absorption of the subversive literary genre.

Journal

AdaptationOxford University Press

Published: Dec 15, 2014

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