Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood by Mick LaSalle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
'Complicated Women' takes us back to Hollywood, before the enactment of the 'Hayes Code' in 1934. This code ripped the heart out of Hollywood movie making and brought us things like married couples sleeping in twin beds and only kissing on either the upper or lower lip, and other assorted ridiculousness.
Before the Hayes Code, men took a back seat in the movies. Women were the real stars, the box-office draws, the money-makers. Norma Shearer features heavily in the book and is obviously the writer's favorite Screen Siren. I have to admit I'd never even heard of her before I picked up this book and I'm heavily into Golden Age Hollywood, but had never run across this actress before. LaSalle makes sure we know what a badass she was, that she knew exactly what she wanted to achieve, and wasted no time in making it happen for herself.
LaSalle obviously loves his subject matter (especially Shearer!) and 'Complicated Women' makes for a fascinating read about the history of Hollywood when women ruled the roost and a horrible little man made sure all that came to an end.
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