Thursday, September 15, 2016

A True Story of Hollywood's Golden Age: Such Mad Fun

The 1939 Cosmopolitan cover says it all: The lovely and glamourous Jane Hall with her beloved Kate, captured at the height of her successful career as a Hollywood screen writer. The real deal, an early writing genuis published at age 13 who ended up in an office next door to F. Scott Fitzgerald screenwriting writing for the cash desperately needed to support his daughter Scottie in private school and wife Zelda in the sanitarium. He became a mentor and friend to Jane.

An Arizonia small town girl orphaned early and raised by her New York City aunt and uncle, Jane attended a posh private school and 'came out' as a deb. Caught up in the mad fun of endless deb parties that lasted into the early morning hours and required long days of sleep before the cycle started again, she found deb life shallow but irresistable.

Jane's early success writing for magazines was based on her outsider/insider look at the glamourous life of her contemporaries. Attracking the notice of an agent she was hired by MGM where she wrote the screenplay for These Glamour Girls. Jane thrived in the exhausting long days and hobnobbing with Hollywood elite at night. She was a success.

She kept suitors at bay with a singleminded desire to write...until she finally succumbed to the charming and handsome Bob Cutler, a recovering alcoholic and divorcee. Jane thought she'd met her Prince Charming, the perfect man who would also whole heartedly support her career. His glamourous life and money beckoned. They were the 'prefect couple'. They had a quiet marriage and a glamourous life.

But with marriage came responsiblities and Jane found it harder and harder to write, the old stories were old and she couldn't get a grasp on new stories. Metro hired her for $850 a week to work on a picture that was never made; the Japanese attacked Pear Harbor and everything changed.

The magazines were clamouring for Jane to submit stories, but she was facing writer's block. And after a mere 18 months of marriage she discovered the real Bob, a man who retreated into himself while dependant and demanding. Jane gave birth to her only child, and found that family expectations took over her life. She managed to write several more stories but realized that her Hollywood career has been 'thrown away'. Jane, like many women, settled for good enough.

Robin Cutler has presented an interesting biography of her mother's carer, enriched by personal letters and details of her screenplays and stories. Tis is more than a family memoir; it is a hitory of Hollywood's movie business and the Golden Age's 'mad fun' society. She also considers her mother's life in context of social expectations and opportunities for women at that time. Today many female writers juggle personal and professional lives. Jane lived during a time that offered little support for women desiring careers; in fact the author points out that some successful women felt guitly about their careers.

You can read more about Jane Hall and her life and times at Robin Cutler's website at
https://robinrcutler.com/

Read my review of West of Sunset by Stewart O'Nan about F. Scott Fitzgerald's last days in Hollywood at
http://theliteratequilter.blogspot.com/2015/01/drugs-booze-and-women-fitzgerald-in.html

I recieved a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Such Mad Fun
Robin R, Cutler
View Tree Press
Publication Sept 8, 2016
ISBN:97809974823-0-0 $14.95 paper
ISBN:97809974823-2-4  $9.99 ebook