Hot Best Seller

Women vs Hollywood: The Fall and Rise of Women in Film

Availability: Ready to download

A call to arms from Empire magazine's 'geek queen', Helen O'Hara, that explores women's roles - both in front of and behind the camera - since the birth of Hollywood, how those roles are reflected within wider society and what we can do to level the playing field. The dawn of cinema was a free-for-all, and there were women who forged ahead in many areas of filmmaking. Early A call to arms from Empire magazine's 'geek queen', Helen O'Hara, that explores women's roles - both in front of and behind the camera - since the birth of Hollywood, how those roles are reflected within wider society and what we can do to level the playing field. The dawn of cinema was a free-for-all, and there were women who forged ahead in many areas of filmmaking. Early pioneers like Dorothy Arzner (who invented the boom mic, among other innovations) and Alice Guy-Blache shaped the way films are made. But it wasn't long before these talented women were pushed aside and their contributions written out of film history. How and why did this happen? Hollywood was born just over a century ago, at a time of huge forward motion for women's rights, yet it came to embody the same old sexist standards. Women found themselves fighting a system that feeds on their talent, creativity and beauty but refuses to pay them the same respect as their male contemporaries - until now... The tide has finally begun to turn. A new generation of women, both in front of and behind the camera, are making waves in the industry and are now shaping some of the biggest films to hit our screens. There is plenty of work still needed before we can even come close to gender equality in film - but we're finally headed in the right direction. In Women vs Hollywood: The Fall and Rise of Women in Film, Empire's 'geek queen' Helen O'Hara takes a closer look at the pioneering and talented women of Hollywood and their work in film since Hollywood began. Equal representation in film matters because it both reflects and influences wider societal gender norms. In understanding how women were largely written out of Hollywood's own origin story, and how the films we watch are put together, we can finally see how to put an end to a picture that is so deeply unequal - and discover a multitude of stories out there just waiting to be told.


Compare

A call to arms from Empire magazine's 'geek queen', Helen O'Hara, that explores women's roles - both in front of and behind the camera - since the birth of Hollywood, how those roles are reflected within wider society and what we can do to level the playing field. The dawn of cinema was a free-for-all, and there were women who forged ahead in many areas of filmmaking. Early A call to arms from Empire magazine's 'geek queen', Helen O'Hara, that explores women's roles - both in front of and behind the camera - since the birth of Hollywood, how those roles are reflected within wider society and what we can do to level the playing field. The dawn of cinema was a free-for-all, and there were women who forged ahead in many areas of filmmaking. Early pioneers like Dorothy Arzner (who invented the boom mic, among other innovations) and Alice Guy-Blache shaped the way films are made. But it wasn't long before these talented women were pushed aside and their contributions written out of film history. How and why did this happen? Hollywood was born just over a century ago, at a time of huge forward motion for women's rights, yet it came to embody the same old sexist standards. Women found themselves fighting a system that feeds on their talent, creativity and beauty but refuses to pay them the same respect as their male contemporaries - until now... The tide has finally begun to turn. A new generation of women, both in front of and behind the camera, are making waves in the industry and are now shaping some of the biggest films to hit our screens. There is plenty of work still needed before we can even come close to gender equality in film - but we're finally headed in the right direction. In Women vs Hollywood: The Fall and Rise of Women in Film, Empire's 'geek queen' Helen O'Hara takes a closer look at the pioneering and talented women of Hollywood and their work in film since Hollywood began. Equal representation in film matters because it both reflects and influences wider societal gender norms. In understanding how women were largely written out of Hollywood's own origin story, and how the films we watch are put together, we can finally see how to put an end to a picture that is so deeply unequal - and discover a multitude of stories out there just waiting to be told.

30 review for Women vs Hollywood: The Fall and Rise of Women in Film

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mike O'Brien

    A must read for anyone interested in cinema. Helen O'Hara brings together her excellent research to tell a surprising and shocking story of how Hollywood, and the cinema industry more widely, has systematically suppressed and constrained the voices of talented women and other marginalised people. We are all the poorer for this lack of diversity. As O'Hara says: "If you truly believe in the power of cinema, then you should want to hear a plurality of voices in your local multiplex because there is A must read for anyone interested in cinema. Helen O'Hara brings together her excellent research to tell a surprising and shocking story of how Hollywood, and the cinema industry more widely, has systematically suppressed and constrained the voices of talented women and other marginalised people. We are all the poorer for this lack of diversity. As O'Hara says: "If you truly believe in the power of cinema, then you should want to hear a plurality of voices in your local multiplex because there is more chance that something extraordinary will occur. If you truly care about film, you should want to be transported into the lives of people quite unlike yourself – and that doesn’t just mean white-coded wizards and aliens. Roger Ebert called cinema a machine for creating empathy. It’s up to us to actually use it to build empathy for everyone, and not just, or mostly, straight white men."

  2. 5 out of 5

    John Feetenby

    Brilliantly written, pitilessly forensic, accurately researched to an atomic level. This is a great account of Hollywood history with a more than patient analysis of its inherent power imbalances. I loved every sentence of it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    Absolutely loved this book, it is so well written, extremely thoroughly researched and very readable with interviews adding context and texture to the research. A thorough look at women in Hollywood from their success in silent movies and how the transfer to talking pictures and the studio system created the male dominated industry we struggle with today. I really liked that when the author was considering the position of women in film, she also considered women of colour, LGBT people and people Absolutely loved this book, it is so well written, extremely thoroughly researched and very readable with interviews adding context and texture to the research. A thorough look at women in Hollywood from their success in silent movies and how the transfer to talking pictures and the studio system created the male dominated industry we struggle with today. I really liked that when the author was considering the position of women in film, she also considered women of colour, LGBT people and people with disabilities. It's very much an intersectional feminist text and much richer for that. The author also clearly has an extensive knowledge of film which shines through in her writing but also in the research she has done. Also in the humour that lightens appropriately and the seriousness with which she writes about sexual, racial and gender harassment that was endemic within the film industry and is slowly beginning to change. I enjoyed the breadth of the book, the author considers all aspects of the film making business from the studio heads, to directors, actors, producers, crew and also critics and their role in supporting and reinforcing the white male cis normative status quo. The last chapter is a wonderful hopeful chapter on how if we love film and want to see films that reflect diverse lives, what we can do to make that happen. Reading this book helped me articulate why I am struggling with films that come out of Hollywood especially when they refuse to embrace diversity and I would say this book is a must read for anyone interested in film and also it's relationship with cultural 'norms'.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rhiannon

    Read this book. It will make you angry and leave you with a long list of films to watch, re-watch and recommend. Well researched, well written and full of stories you'll wish you'd known sooner. A real celebration of women in film. Read this book. It will make you angry and leave you with a long list of films to watch, re-watch and recommend. Well researched, well written and full of stories you'll wish you'd known sooner. A real celebration of women in film.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ellie

    I definitely need to read more books on film because I loved this. I loved the wide variety of topics that this covered and it really showed why there needs to be a greater effort towards inclusion in Hollywood, especially at the top levels.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gareth

    I love books about film, the history of it and the stories behind it, and Women Vs Hollywood is an immediately vital addition to that conversation. Written with conversational ease by Helen O’Hara, it gives a grand overview of Hollywood filmmaking and the role of women in it, which was far greater than I knew during the medium’s early days. O’Hara details many influential female talents working just as tirelessly as the men - and notes that it was originally a drive to entice female viewers that I love books about film, the history of it and the stories behind it, and Women Vs Hollywood is an immediately vital addition to that conversation. Written with conversational ease by Helen O’Hara, it gives a grand overview of Hollywood filmmaking and the role of women in it, which was far greater than I knew during the medium’s early days. O’Hara details many influential female talents working just as tirelessly as the men - and notes that it was originally a drive to entice female viewers that led to the importance of movie narratives at all. This whole section of the book is enormously eye-opening. Once the industry becomes big business, doors began to close for anyone other than white men. O’Hara examines many fields (such as the Hayes Code of the 50s/60s, the thrilling but male-centric New Hollywood of the 70s, the modern reliance on franchises) where the all-importance of male voices simply became a self-fulfilling prophecy. She examines the importance of social media (love it or hate it) in turning the tide, as well as highlighting the positive change that is happening at greater speeds for all groups other than the one that has dominated the movies for nearly a century. The whole timeline is thrillingly up to date, taking into account box office successes like Avengers: Endgame and all the Twitter fiascos that crop up around similar large scale movies that feature women. All this, plus a sharp wit and a frank readability, renders the deeply researched Women Vs Hollywood a book to be thrust into the hands of film nuts with the same enthusiasm as Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. If anything it is more important, right now, as a set text.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This was so interesting! My poor mum has been getting facts thrown at her whenever she’s phoned me. I highly recommend. This just goes to show that I need to read more non fiction as I love it when I do!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Debra Manskey

    I came to this book via the Girls On Film podcast and I'm so glad I did! O'Hara delivers an absolute powerhouse treatise and it's a must-read for anyone with an interest in contemporary media history. I came to this book via the Girls On Film podcast and I'm so glad I did! O'Hara delivers an absolute powerhouse treatise and it's a must-read for anyone with an interest in contemporary media history.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Gill

    I read this at a most opportune time ie just before the BAFTA and Oscar awards. It was therefore so satisfying to see Chloé Zhao becoming the second woman in the history of the Oscars to be named best director at both award ceremonies for the film Nomadland. This book is described as follows:- "A call to arms from Empire magazine's 'geek queen', Helen O'Hara, that explores women's roles - both in front of and behind the camera - since the birth of Hollywood, how those roles are reflected within wi I read this at a most opportune time ie just before the BAFTA and Oscar awards. It was therefore so satisfying to see Chloé Zhao becoming the second woman in the history of the Oscars to be named best director at both award ceremonies for the film Nomadland. This book is described as follows:- "A call to arms from Empire magazine's 'geek queen', Helen O'Hara, that explores women's roles - both in front of and behind the camera - since the birth of Hollywood, how those roles are reflected within wider society and what we can do to level the playing field. The dawn of cinema was a free-for-all, and there were women who forged ahead in many areas of filmmaking. Early pioneers like Dorothy Arzner (who invented the boom mic, among other innovations) and Alice Guy-Blaché shaped the way films are made. But it wasn't long before these talented women were pushed aside and their contributions written out of film history. How and why did this happen? Hollywood was born just over a century ago, at a time of huge forward motion for women's rights, yet it came to embody the same old sexist standards. Women found themselves fighting a system that feeds on their talent, creativity and beauty but refuses to pay them the same respect as their male contemporaries - until now... The tide has finally begun to turn. A new generation of women, both in front of and behind the camera, are making waves in the industry and are now shaping some of the biggest films to hit our screens. There is plenty of work still needed before we can even come close to gender equality in film - but we're finally headed in the right direction. In Women vs Hollywood: The Fall and Rise of Women in Film, Empire's 'geek queen' Helen O'Hara takes a closer look at the pioneering and talented women of Hollywood and their work in film since Hollywood began. Equal representation in film matters because it both reflects and influences wider societal gender norms. In understanding how women were largely written out of Hollywood's own origin story, and how the films we watch are put together, we can finally see how to put an end to a picture that is so deeply unequal - and discover a multitude of stories out there just waiting to be told." This book is well worth a read for anyone interested in films, history, feminism or for anyone with an interest in the history of women in Hollywood and how the film industry has got to where it is today. It is authoritative, balanced, compelling but shocking and this is because women were instrumental in, and played significant roles in the development of the silent film industry. However as soon as it became obvious that films were profitable and the process became more industrialised, men took over. This take over not only applied to the roles and wages women were given but extended to their dialogue in films and expected behaviour, relationships and pregnancy. "Joan Fontaine recalled being loaned out by David O. Selznick at a cost of $150,000 for ten weeks, while he paid her $2,000 per week". Fortunately there were some women who fought back and in particular Mae West. The Motion Picture Production Code (known as The Code) acted as a form of censorship - there was no room for 'excessive kissing', swearing, childbirth, nothing to dissuade women from having children or relationships outside of marriage, strict rules regarding the depiction of crime and prostitution etc. Overall, "There was a general requirement to avoid vulgarity and ensure good taste" and "No picture shall be produced that will lower the moral standards of those who see it". West became a persistent thorn in the side of those enforcing The Code and even when the scripts were doctored to rein her in, they didn't reckon on her ability "to invest filth in a shopping list". More importantly, for some time her films were huge hits and especially with women. It does take us up to modern times and does deal with the Weinstein scandal and makes you realise to what extent this abuse has been embedded throughout the industry. Things are changing and the book ends on a more positive note about the current role of women in Hollywood but that change is still taking place too slowly as witnessed in the recent awards. The book is so well written in such an engaging style and although I would find myself absolutely infuriated reading about injustices that have taken place, I would highly recommend it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Afterwards

    Fascinating subject let down in the early chapters by a lot of skimming over the stories of many of the women in early Hollywood - it is a vast subject so perhaps it's understandable that the accounts of brief. The other thing that is getting on my nerves is the writer's style which is jokey, flip, and opinionated. This is precisely why others enjoy her columns but for me distracts from what she is saying. However, this is an important subject and needs to be discussed. Perhaps it will improve i Fascinating subject let down in the early chapters by a lot of skimming over the stories of many of the women in early Hollywood - it is a vast subject so perhaps it's understandable that the accounts of brief. The other thing that is getting on my nerves is the writer's style which is jokey, flip, and opinionated. This is precisely why others enjoy her columns but for me distracts from what she is saying. However, this is an important subject and needs to be discussed. Perhaps it will improve in the later chapters.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sue Chant

    Some eye-opening stuff about the early years of cinema, where women were more autonomous, becoming directors, writers, and producers as well as actors and stunt-performers. But of course, when the money-men got involved sexism, racism and homophobia crept in and womens' roles become much more circumscribed - same old story. I wasn't particularly interested in the final section about which female millionaires got pay-parity with which male millionaires (!) in the industry, or who was entered for Some eye-opening stuff about the early years of cinema, where women were more autonomous, becoming directors, writers, and producers as well as actors and stunt-performers. But of course, when the money-men got involved sexism, racism and homophobia crept in and womens' roles become much more circumscribed - same old story. I wasn't particularly interested in the final section about which female millionaires got pay-parity with which male millionaires (!) in the industry, or who was entered for the awards at what film festival, but overall it was an enjoyable and interesting book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andy N

    (An Audio version of this will appear on the Book Review Podcast – Reading in Bed (readinginbed.bandcamp.com) at the start of June 2021. Helen O’Hara Women vs Hollywood: The Fall and Rise of Women in Film Blurb: A call to arms from Empire magazine's 'geek queen', Helen O'Hara, that explores women's roles - both in front of and behind the camera - since the birth of Hollywood, how those roles are reflected within wider society and what we can do to level the playing field. The dawn of cinema was a fr (An Audio version of this will appear on the Book Review Podcast – Reading in Bed (readinginbed.bandcamp.com) at the start of June 2021. Helen O’Hara Women vs Hollywood: The Fall and Rise of Women in Film Blurb: A call to arms from Empire magazine's 'geek queen', Helen O'Hara, that explores women's roles - both in front of and behind the camera - since the birth of Hollywood, how those roles are reflected within wider society and what we can do to level the playing field. The dawn of cinema was a free-for-all, and there were women who forged ahead in many areas of filmmaking. Early pioneers like Dorothy Arzner (who invented the boom mic, among other innovations) and Alice Guy-Blache shaped the way films are made. But it wasn't long before these talented women were pushed aside and their contributions written out of film history. How and why did this happen? In Women vs Hollywood: The Fall and Rise of Women in Film, Empire's 'geek queen' Helen O'Hara takes a closer look at the pioneering and talented women of Hollywood and their work in film since Hollywood began. Equal representation in film matters because it both reflects and influences wider societal gender norms. In understanding how women were largely written out of Hollywood's own origin story, and how the films we watch are put together, we can finally see how to put an end to a picture that is so deeply unequal - and discover a multitude of stories out there just waiting to be told. Strengths: Anybody who knows me knows I am a huge fan of the Podcast series ‘You must remember this’ by Karina Longworth and also her excellent book ‘Seduction’ which I reviewed a few months back, so this book kinda runs hand in hand with that as it discusses the role of Women in Film. Ask Amanda a question: How many films did Universal Studios release with Women credited as directors? 8 And how many did they release a hundred years later? 1. Pitch Perfect 3. This simply is a very, very well written book. I’ve being familiar with Ms O’Hara’s work on Empire Magazine and also the Empire Magazine Podcast for years and years and it really isn’t a surprise that the amount of research she has done it really shows showing a thorough look at women from their success in silent movies and how the transfer to talking pictures in the 1930s and the creation of the studio system created the male dominated industry we struggle to this very day. Through You must remember this and Seduction, I was familiar with the work of countless actresses who were often cast aside when they got to a certain age as well of the work of Alice Guy-Blanché and Dorothy Arzner but I wasn’t aware how few other women existed in the director and other key creative roles and how over the 30s onwards how they were pushed into the background. One point that stuck with me was the case of Patty Jenkins who did incredibly well with Monster back in 2003 but then faced an epic 14 year battle before her next film came out Wonder Woman in 2017 with loads of projects not getting made for various reasons. There is a lot I could quote here but I won’t and simply say go and read it and learn. Weaknesses: It’s not as good as Seduction or You must remember this as it is only 300 odd pages. To really expand on some of the points raised here, you really need probably another 600 or so pages to really get to grips with some of the stories here but as a starting point, it’s a great start even though I struggled with the points in the last chapter or two from now-days as I wanted to learn more about some of the characters from the earlier days more as some of them who I won’t name and who I wasn’t familiar sounded doozeys of stories. Perhaps a follow up, Ms O’Hara? Conclusion: I really enjoyed this book. It’s very well told indeed, even though I didn’t enjoy the last few chapters as much but it didn’t put me off too much. Excellent stuff. 8.5/10

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ellie F.

    I had so many WTF moments, it literally gave me the energy to start a freaking revolution! And at the same time It makes me hate the film industry even more than it already did before ... my annoyance has turned into bitterness (I hope it’s temporary) ... but then again... I’m in a stage between depressed and normal ... so I cannot speak from any happy feelings connected to anything remotely related to cinema at the moment ... it’s a freaking tragedy! Where has this book been three years ago? I w I had so many WTF moments, it literally gave me the energy to start a freaking revolution! And at the same time It makes me hate the film industry even more than it already did before ... my annoyance has turned into bitterness (I hope it’s temporary) ... but then again... I’m in a stage between depressed and normal ... so I cannot speak from any happy feelings connected to anything remotely related to cinema at the moment ... it’s a freaking tragedy! Where has this book been three years ago? I was so desperate to read something like this but was never sure where to start and where to find anything remotely current! I wanted to make more use of my studies ... I’ve never thought I would deteste my real studies and actually create most of my actual studies with this book instead ... at least it feels like this has been my education for this year because I’ve not really learned much in my real film classes... this is insane... but then again who am I kidding... this book gave me so much material on why my studies & university is deeeeeeeply flawed ... I mean... check the topic of auteurism, film critics & scholars... it’s just insane how much all is connected and how much power film scholars can have Despite the fact that my institute was founded by a woman ... I believe ...but then again... but our institute does not have “a voice of authority” and isn’t really “heard”/ doesn’t produce anything on the topic of this book... I fathom...which is kind of ironic... Or I’ve been horribly blind these past years? which I’ve probably been... which is ironic too cause that’s only half my fault ... why must everything go hand in hand all the damn time? This is inception! (A very sad wuup wuup on implicit biaseeeees!) I feel like I’ve learned more important stuff from this book than I ever did from studying cinema for three years! Holy cow ! This book perfectly summarizes what’s wrong with the industry & history ... it offered me so mich insight in a field I’ve dreaded to come back to in the past couple of months. It showed me that things are indeed changing & that we shouldn’t lose all hope. Great films will come back & they will be made by diverse people. It has already started (at least on TV... I guess)! There’s still a long way to go... But this book gave me hope, while also smashing out cold hard facts & crazy stories about what truly happened since the dawn of film... it was a disturbing ride, but oh so incredible! I cannot put it into words. (Especially the mentioning of different tests and the data... oh so very disturbing the damn data!) I am proud now... that I have studied cinema in theory & I am proud to be able to see through the lens & bullshit of so many different aspects of women’s lives (and a little bit about other underrepresented groups too!) I’m still a white ass, cis, straight woman with loads of privilege compared to the wonderful women of colour & non-binary artists described in this book , but still it gave me so much confidence, so many new perspectives... shining a light on so many little pieces of film history, about which we all have such a ghastly unawareness. If you are a fan of art, writing and specifically film, you should read it! If you are not interested... you should read it too... cause I feel like this book contains so many things everyone needs to know about ... It’s just too damn important! And dreadfully current! Read it ... right now, to get the full effect!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Meg Orton

    Disclaimer: Jonathan Ball Publishers kindly sent me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Helen O’Hara is a journalist and film critic who knows what she’s writing about. She may be opinionated and snarky, but aren’t all journalists and critics? And that’s the point, isn’t it? If Helen O’Hara was a man perhaps I might not be using certain words to describe her style. That being said O’Hara’s banter takes some getting used to, but her clear film knowledge will make up for it. Women Disclaimer: Jonathan Ball Publishers kindly sent me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Helen O’Hara is a journalist and film critic who knows what she’s writing about. She may be opinionated and snarky, but aren’t all journalists and critics? And that’s the point, isn’t it? If Helen O’Hara was a man perhaps I might not be using certain words to describe her style. That being said O’Hara’s banter takes some getting used to, but her clear film knowledge will make up for it. Women Vs Hollywood is not simply a film book for feminists. It is a notable book on film history, and yes feminist issues are alluded to – but this is not just about women working in Hollywood. This is about the fact that the place where all the movies come from is a place that has been sitting on a default setting for far too long now. This default includes old white males, and there is very little inclusion in this narrative. In this book of essays and think pieces, O’Hara breaks down just how Hollywood began, and just how far it still has to go, with an emphasis on everyone who has ever been excluded. O’Hara includes a brief history of film with mentions of women who worked prominently in the industry as writers, directors, actors, critics, and crew members, and whose names disappeared from the history books. The book includes interviews with women who have worked in the industry, the shocking statistics evident that reveal just how broad the pay gap is, and how little Hollywood considers women, people-of-color (POC), the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities. Women Vs Hollywood is a timeline of Hollywood’s naughty list. From the studio systems, the Hayes Code, censorship, Fatty Arbuckle’s scandal, the infamous casting couch, and the invention of the ‘male gaze', this is a veritable treasure trove of trivia and sometimes downright shocking information about the film industry. ‘’It shows…that behind every great man is a woman hardly anyone has ever heard of.” As much as this book is about the past, it also flashes forward to a new age of Hollywood – an age where the #metoo movement is in full swing, where the TimesUp movement traveled from Hollywood and infiltrated all industries and an age where people like Harvey Weinstein, the monstrous producer, is sitting behind bars because women have started to speak up. In many ways O’Hara’s book shows us just how impossible both action and inaction can feel sometimes, and to no fault of our own. This is not a book filled with judgment directed at the women who kept silent for decades, but it IS a judgment on those men who had the power to change the narrative for countless women who stepped aside (read: pushed aside) in order for straight white men to take credit. This is also a book that begs Hollywood to do better, and not in the Woke generation sense. O’Hara has been writing for Empire magazine, and she knows her stuff. This is not about canceling anyone – this is about acknowledging Hollywood’s honest-to-goodness bullshit. This is about how the capitalization of film and the industry it stands upon left women out in the cold, and it is not about perspective or opinion – it is fact. Even the most knowledgeable of film buffs will gasp and fume at the injustices that have been going on for far too long, and with delight, readers will be tempted to catch up on some much-needed film viewing. O’Hara drops names and film titles like a boss, and you will not be alone in seeking out Jane Russell in The Outlaw, realizing exactly why it is we are expected to enjoy everything Martin Scorsese makes and wonder what in the hell happened to the actresses Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino. O’Hara’s oftentimes informal tone will make this even more compulsively readable, and every chapter holds new revelations and a fresh perspective on the history of an industry that began as early as 1895. This book deserves pride of place on the shelf with all of your film history books- but makes sure to put it in the front where EVERYONE can see it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Adam Murphy

    "Most of the successful people in Hollywood are failures as human beings." - Marlon Brando Women vs Hollywood: The Fall and Rise of Women in Film by Helen O'Hara is a great insight into women's role in the film industry. This book takes us on a trip through cinemas history and addresses the impact Women had (or lack of) on the industry. I don't understand a majority of the problems people complain about regarding the equal outcome. There aren't enough women in movies, or there aren't enough wome "Most of the successful people in Hollywood are failures as human beings." - Marlon Brando Women vs Hollywood: The Fall and Rise of Women in Film by Helen O'Hara is a great insight into women's role in the film industry. This book takes us on a trip through cinemas history and addresses the impact Women had (or lack of) on the industry. I don't understand a majority of the problems people complain about regarding the equal outcome. There aren't enough women in movies, or there aren't enough women directors or enough women producers. If Hollywood is full of men who will only hire men( as seems to be the case from the internet), there should be plenty of room for somebody to start making great movies with all the women they won't hire. It just doesn't make sense to me unless somebody can point out that prevents people explicitly from hiring women. It's important to understand that cinema is never produced in a vacuum and not a value-neutral entity. It's an ideological apparatus that offers an interesting lens to view the social structures in any given society. The discussion of women in film needs to be grounded in the paradigm of representation. While this book covers a detailed ground on the current debates in Hollywood, keeping in mind the question of women in film, we must also look at how women from minority communities. Society can become a part of this attempt to democratise film; my point is that representation from the margins needs to become the norm. We've still got a long way to go, but there are signs of progress at least. I feel like Hollywood is ready for disruption; the ways you can raise money and market films now with the internet are undoubtedly going to open doors for many new people. But what if, despite that disruption plus other efforts, things only change slightly or not at all? At what point do you give up trying to change something that, for some mysterious reason, can't really be changed?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Niamh

    This is the book I wish I could've written. Or at least read when I started university and actually began learning about the film industry and its history. For the four years that I studied film and the practice of making it, the syllabus was almost entirely male-focused. I could count on one hand the number of films or television shows we watched with female/BIPOC/LGBTQIA+/disabled filmmakers, writers, producers or majority actors. Helen O'Hara's examination on how, from the very beginnings of ci This is the book I wish I could've written. Or at least read when I started university and actually began learning about the film industry and its history. For the four years that I studied film and the practice of making it, the syllabus was almost entirely male-focused. I could count on one hand the number of films or television shows we watched with female/BIPOC/LGBTQIA+/disabled filmmakers, writers, producers or majority actors. Helen O'Hara's examination on how, from the very beginnings of cinema, women have been fighting for greater equity, both in front of and behind the camera, is utterly fascinating and brilliantly discussed. Beginning with Alice Guy-Blache, Lois Weber, Marion E Wong - who all made films in the early, experimental phases of film production - and moving right up to the present day, it pulls forward a history of Hollywood that explores how we got to where we are and how we can make it better. Aside from the book restoring some of my faith in my chosen profession (O'Hara has a statistic of only 16% of screenwriters of the top 250 movies in one year being female), the author articulated thoughts that I have never been able to. In chapters dedicated to Auteur Theory, which I had to study in depth, her analysis of this blanket term being used to excuse dickish, predatory and bullying behaviour by male directors lauded as 'geniuses' is one of the central reasons I dislike applying the term to anyone - not to mention that giving one person all the credit for an entire film does a complete disservice to the thousands of other people who contributed. If you're looking for a book on Hollywood and women and its history - this is it. Though perhaps not the most all encompassing - you would need several volumes to do that - it blends the historical with the contemporary, giving a road-map towards greater equality for all who remain underrepresented in Hollywood.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Studvet

    A 3.5. Interesting, detailed, with some fascinating stories. At times a bit repetitive and too much of a rhetorical polemic that made you think "Hmmmmm...... Is that REALLY the full story?" For example, she says that Katherine Heigl was blacklisted because of an off-hand comment, basically. Whereas in reality she had form in biting the hand that fed her on her TV series once successful, and running down the film she had great success with and her colleagues in it. I think she is somewhat biased A 3.5. Interesting, detailed, with some fascinating stories. At times a bit repetitive and too much of a rhetorical polemic that made you think "Hmmmmm...... Is that REALLY the full story?" For example, she says that Katherine Heigl was blacklisted because of an off-hand comment, basically. Whereas in reality she had form in biting the hand that fed her on her TV series once successful, and running down the film she had great success with and her colleagues in it. I think she is somewhat biased in that women come across as pure victims and men basically selfish, dominant bullies -very simplistic-so she leaves out a lot of contributing factors and some more complex reasons. For example, since when did Rosalind Russell and Katherine Hepburn not attract movie-goers on their name alone?? Invariably they did, unlike stated in the book where their films' successes were apparently always seen as solely because of the director. Their names denoted quality and interesting movies and drew the crowds. Star power! That said, what she says generally rings true and we need much more interesting movies by having diversity and equality of opportunity to show talent. At the end of the day movies are commercial and need money to make so people need talent to succeed but it's the given equal opportunity to show that which is important. We see now what we have missed all those years by seeing so many great performances/movies by black and gay actors/directors/women in the past few years when given more opportunity. What a waste and how cruel so many talented people had stilted careers in the past.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Holly Cruise

    I sometimes think I need a new shelf on here called 'books which made me mad'... This one had me fuming. All those talented women out there who had careers affected, shortened, ruined or stopped from happening in the first place because of terrible men and horrible patriarchal society they built! "What specific area of world history is this about, Holly" you ask, unsure due to sheer enormity of the problems terrible men have caused talented women in many many areas. Cinema. Film-making. Creating m I sometimes think I need a new shelf on here called 'books which made me mad'... This one had me fuming. All those talented women out there who had careers affected, shortened, ruined or stopped from happening in the first place because of terrible men and horrible patriarchal society they built! "What specific area of world history is this about, Holly" you ask, unsure due to sheer enormity of the problems terrible men have caused talented women in many many areas. Cinema. Film-making. Creating moving pictures with or without sound to entertain. And doing so in the desert of California. This book traces the Hollywood history of women, and considering it is already straining at the edges with examples left on the cutting-room floor, it's a good thing it's just limited to Hollywood. Helen O'Hara has jam-packed this with examples and information. Want some horrifying statistics? Some rage-inducing anecdotes? A consistent effort to include women of colour and LGBTQ+ people, which makes everything even worse cos they get it worse than white straight cis women? Oh yes, the research and receipts are here. It's well written, although if you're not a fan of that slightly snarky millennial tone then you might find some of the darker jokes a bit distracting (I love them). I think the only thing I wanted that it lacked was a list at the end of all the films mentioned that those women made.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Parkin

    This book starts with an admission that it's not the most complete history of women in film possible, and that is fair. As one of those Empire podcast listeners who has been hearing so many brilliant anecdotes from Helen while she was researching this book about female agents, editors and executives, I was definitely expecting a deeper look at the situation for marginalised talent below the line, rather than the quite narrow focus here on actors, directors, writers and producers. When she makes This book starts with an admission that it's not the most complete history of women in film possible, and that is fair. As one of those Empire podcast listeners who has been hearing so many brilliant anecdotes from Helen while she was researching this book about female agents, editors and executives, I was definitely expecting a deeper look at the situation for marginalised talent below the line, rather than the quite narrow focus here on actors, directors, writers and producers. When she makes passing reference to how fewer female acting roles means less work for stand-ins and stuntwomen and how this affects their careers, she hints at the extra depth that would have been possible in a longer book- and which I hope is still there for a sequel! But once I'd settled into the book that this is and not the book that I expected, I loved it. I really appreciated the thoughtfulness and passion with which she approached her subject, and at a time when it feels like there is little to be optimistic about in the world, this is the kind of righteous anger and genuine belief in the potential to do better that I for one sorely needed.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Daisy

    Quality Rating: Five Stars Enjoyment Rating: Four Stars Helen O'Hara is one of my favourite critics, and I was very pleased to find that listening to her read her witty and intelligent writings was even more enjoyable. Women vs Hollywood is a comprehensive (if knowingly written by a white middle class woman), progressive and empathetic history and discussion on women's roles, responsibilities and experiences in the film industry since its invention. Not only does she touch on the gender biases, bu Quality Rating: Five Stars Enjoyment Rating: Four Stars Helen O'Hara is one of my favourite critics, and I was very pleased to find that listening to her read her witty and intelligent writings was even more enjoyable. Women vs Hollywood is a comprehensive (if knowingly written by a white middle class woman), progressive and empathetic history and discussion on women's roles, responsibilities and experiences in the film industry since its invention. Not only does she touch on the gender biases, but also dips her toes into other minorities' discrimination, though she of course can only scratch the surface of these whole issues in their own rights. I've heard most of the facts and figures before, and the iconic progressives are known if you are interested enough to look, but O'Hara updates and engages the information into how we as a collective can improve this storytelling industry, whether you're working on the screen or behind it, or sitting down to watch it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I picked up this book because Helen O'Hara is my favorite film journalist/podcaster and it did not disappoint! Fascinating to learn the history of women who were at the forefront of filmmaking in its earliest days, but whose legacies have largely been forgotten or purposely erased. I loved learning about the contributions and accomplishments of women like Alice Guy-Blanché, a prolific French director in the late 1800s, and Dorothy Arzner, the only female director in Hollywood in the 1920s and 30 I picked up this book because Helen O'Hara is my favorite film journalist/podcaster and it did not disappoint! Fascinating to learn the history of women who were at the forefront of filmmaking in its earliest days, but whose legacies have largely been forgotten or purposely erased. I loved learning about the contributions and accomplishments of women like Alice Guy-Blanché, a prolific French director in the late 1800s, and Dorothy Arzner, the only female director in Hollywood in the 1920s and 30s. And it frustrated me to learn about the way women were systematically excluded from film in the years that followed until it became the male-dominated industry that we know now--but how #MeToo and other movements are helping to bring women back to the forefront, where they should have been all along.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ray

    This is an insightful and extremely well researched history of women (and indeed other underrepresented people) in Hollywood through the ages. I love that you can hear O'Hara's voice, and passion for the subjects of film and feminism, come through so clearly on the page. Early chapters focus on how women contributed to film in its the fledgling years, but were later written out of the narrative. The book's later examinations of more modern eras are equally fascinating, and lead to practical thou This is an insightful and extremely well researched history of women (and indeed other underrepresented people) in Hollywood through the ages. I love that you can hear O'Hara's voice, and passion for the subjects of film and feminism, come through so clearly on the page. Early chapters focus on how women contributed to film in its the fledgling years, but were later written out of the narrative. The book's later examinations of more modern eras are equally fascinating, and lead to practical thoughts about how film representation can, and should, change in the future.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Unnur

    Much needed book about how women and marginalised groups have been sidelined throughout Hollywood's history. Citing sources was at times oddly done and inconsistent but slipped in Hamilton quotes made up for every flaw in the book. The final chapter ended on how it is chsnging and what we can do to further establish the change! It fet empowering although I admit I am also terrified to enter the working field and facing all the obstacles that might be in my way as a woman. Thankfully, like I said Much needed book about how women and marginalised groups have been sidelined throughout Hollywood's history. Citing sources was at times oddly done and inconsistent but slipped in Hamilton quotes made up for every flaw in the book. The final chapter ended on how it is chsnging and what we can do to further establish the change! It fet empowering although I admit I am also terrified to enter the working field and facing all the obstacles that might be in my way as a woman. Thankfully, like I said before, it is slowly changing.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Benedict Reid

    While most of the stories were ones I'd heard before, Helen O'Hara has made a compelling case for Hollywood misogynistic practice being the norm rather than the exception. There is no doubt that Woman have and continue to have an uphill battle in the film industry in almost every country. By focusing on Hollywood, O'Hara has underlined the fact that woman who have forged lasting careers are the exception. As a side-note, it's a very up to date book with references to Covid and Black Widow. Well While most of the stories were ones I'd heard before, Helen O'Hara has made a compelling case for Hollywood misogynistic practice being the norm rather than the exception. There is no doubt that Woman have and continue to have an uphill battle in the film industry in almost every country. By focusing on Hollywood, O'Hara has underlined the fact that woman who have forged lasting careers are the exception. As a side-note, it's a very up to date book with references to Covid and Black Widow. Well worth reading for anyone in the screen industry.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Pa_tr0_clus

    Very entertaining and well-researched. I can’t say I learnt too much, but it is quite literally my degree so if I wasn’t aware of most of the women talked about in this book then it wouldn’t exactly be a good look for me. The tone is very conversational and opinionated at times, which makes it perfect for those who don’t want to struggle through academic texts on the same topics. Overall, such a good read. [picked up from my University library’s International Women’s Day recommended reading displ Very entertaining and well-researched. I can’t say I learnt too much, but it is quite literally my degree so if I wasn’t aware of most of the women talked about in this book then it wouldn’t exactly be a good look for me. The tone is very conversational and opinionated at times, which makes it perfect for those who don’t want to struggle through academic texts on the same topics. Overall, such a good read. [picked up from my University library’s International Women’s Day recommended reading display]

  26. 4 out of 5

    Pickle.

    An excellent lead-on to inspire research. Somewhat upended my knowledge particularly of what i thought an entirely male dominated early filmmaking industry...vital women moving and shaking, setting course from it’s very inception to the (hopefully becoming) more enlightened version today. If I had college age kids....this’d be in their birthday stocking. ..I knew little about Mae West- and she sounds awesome. (Not a full review- abridged audio).

  27. 4 out of 5

    Elien

    4.5/5 - Extremely educational, well-written and nuanced overview of film history and the impact women made on the medium, and all the ways they were never allowed to. Discusses all aspects of film-making and the industry as a whole. Some parts could've been even longer for me, but this is a must-read for all film fans. 4.5/5 - Extremely educational, well-written and nuanced overview of film history and the impact women made on the medium, and all the ways they were never allowed to. Discusses all aspects of film-making and the industry as a whole. Some parts could've been even longer for me, but this is a must-read for all film fans.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Paul Stroessner Jr

    This is outstanding. Helen O'Hara is a fantastic writer, and her passion of film shines through. She obviously has done a lot of research on this subject matter. This book is extremely informative and interesting. You don't need to be a film buff to enjoy this, but I feel that this is definitely a must-read for any film buff. If I could give 10 stars, I would. This is outstanding. Helen O'Hara is a fantastic writer, and her passion of film shines through. She obviously has done a lot of research on this subject matter. This book is extremely informative and interesting. You don't need to be a film buff to enjoy this, but I feel that this is definitely a must-read for any film buff. If I could give 10 stars, I would.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chip

    I've been listening to the Empire Film Podcast for a long time, so I was immediately on board for this book. The book is fascinating and opened my eyes to a ton of film history that has been ignored and erased for years. I enjoyed how the author told this very serious story, but managed to inject her personality and humor throughout. I've been listening to the Empire Film Podcast for a long time, so I was immediately on board for this book. The book is fascinating and opened my eyes to a ton of film history that has been ignored and erased for years. I enjoyed how the author told this very serious story, but managed to inject her personality and humor throughout.

  30. 5 out of 5

    JoJo

    I learned a lot about the film industry, but in a way that made it enjoyable if rarely pleasurable in terms of the content. I don't read much about this industry, but I suspect it is a story that needed to be told. I learned a lot about the film industry, but in a way that made it enjoyable if rarely pleasurable in terms of the content. I don't read much about this industry, but I suspect it is a story that needed to be told.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...