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Oxford University Press
19 April 2018
Film, TV & Radio; Film movie production: technical skills; Gender studies: women; Cinema industry
Looking back on her career in 1977, Bette Davis remembered with pride, Women owned Hollywood for twenty years. She had a point. Between 1930 and 1950, over 40% of film industry employees were women, 25% of all screenwriters were female, one woman ran MGM behind the scenes, over a dozen women worked as producers, a woman headed the Screen Writers Guild three times, and press claimed Hollywood was a generation or two ahead of the rest of the country in terms of gender equality and employment.The first comprehensive history of Hollywood's high-flying career women during the studio era, Nobody's Girl Friday covers the impact of the executives, producers, editors, writers, agents, designers, directors, and actresses who shaped Hollywood film production and style, led their unions, climbed to the top during the war, and fought the blacklist.Based on a decade of archival research, author J.E. Smyth uncovers a formidable generation working within the American film industry and brings their voices back into the history of Hollywood. Their achievements, struggles, and perspectives fundamentally challenge popular ideas about director-based auteurism, male dominance, and female disempowerment in the years between First and Second Wave Feminism.Nobody's Girl Friday is a revisionist history, but it's also a deeply personal, collective account of hundreds of working women, the studios they worked for, and the films they helped to make. For many years, historians and critics have insisted that both American feminism and the power of women in Hollywood declined and virtually disappeared from the 1920s through the 1960s. But Smyth vindicates Bette Davis's claim. The story of the women who called the shots in studio-era Hollywood has never fully been told-until now.
By:   J. E. Smyth (Professor of History Professor of History University of Warwick)
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 243mm,  Width: 165mm,  Spine: 26mm
Weight:   700g
ISBN:   9780190840822
ISBN 10:   019084082X
Pages:   328
Publication Date:   19 April 2018
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

J.E. Smyth is Professor of History at the University of Warwick and author or editor of Reconstructing American Historical Cinema from Cimarron to Citizen Kane (2006), Edna Ferber's Hollywood (2009), Hollywood and the American Historical Film (ed., 2012), Fred Zinnemann and the Cinema of Resistance (2015), and the BFI classics monograph on From Here to Eternity (2015).

Reviews for Nobody's Girl Friday: The Women Who Ran Hollywood

An excellent foundation for researchers to build upon . . . a fascinating untold story. * H-Net * [Smyth's] book is groundbreaking in detailing the achievements of women neglected by Hollywood histories. * Carrie Rickey, Film Quarterly *


  • Winner of Finalist of the 2019 PROSE Award in Media and Cultural Studies by the Association of American Publishers.
  • Winner of Winner of the 2018 Richard Wall Memorial Award Special Jury Prize awarded by The Theatre Library Association Finalist of the 2019 PROSE Award in Media and Cultural Studies by the Association of American Publishers.

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