Like many other stories, this book centers on a Midwestern girl’s efforts to make it in male dominated Hollywood. Julie Crawford wants to be a screenwriter. Not that unique a premise.
But her efforts to succeed, her break from disapproving parents, and her budding romance with a promising assistant producer, Andy — all take place against the making of David O. Selznick‘s 1939 movie masterpiece, Gone With The Wind. It’s this movie and the insider’s look at the moviemaking that were the most interesting aspect of the book to me.
Clark Gable‘s hesitancy about whether to cry on camera, Vivien Leigh’s anger over the daily taping of her breasts (to give her more cleavage), the firing of director George Cukor, and the racial battles behind the scenes over how slaves would be portrayed in the film — these were the items that drew me in. Not to mention the battles for control between Selznick and his father-in-law, studio head Louis B. Mayer.
There’s also a wonderfully rich and warm portrait of Actress Carole Lombard (Gable’s third wife) who becomes Julie’s employer and then friend. All of this in the 1938-9 period leading up to World War II.
It’s an easy and fast read. I just wish I had cared more for the Julie Crawford part of the story.