Female Film Pioneers: Anita Loos
One of the most prolific and powerful screenwriters of her time — with a career that began in 1912 and stretched into the late ’50s — Anita Loos was in some ways bigger than Hollywood itself. She brought the clout and cachet of a best-selling novelist and successful Broadway playwright to the nascent movie industry, adapting her own work and those of her peers to the new medium. In 1920 she and her husband, John Emerson, published “How to Write Photoplays,” an early example of an enduring genre. This manual for aspiring movie scribes included a wealth of advice both practical (“Writing for the Camera,” “Marketing the Story”) and existential:
“Above all things the scenario writer should keep alive. Just keep yourself with lively, laughing, thinking people, think about things yourself, and cultivate a respect for new ideas of any kind. Take care of these small ideas and the big plots will take care of themselves.”
Good advice, then and now, and revealing of Loos’s own approach.
From “You Know These 20 Movies. Now Meet the Women Behind Them” by Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott for the New York Times; Photo from Cecil Beaton/Condé Nast, via Getty Images
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