I heard of Alicia Malone through the Screen Junkies YouTube channel where she appears on Movie Fights, where she competed against other contestants on modern topics. She has been a proponent of "old cinema" and I thought her book would be an exciting read, only to be slightly disappointed at how much this book resembled a wikipedia article rather than short stories about the famous women who contributed to cinema. Her book is divided into chapters of different eras of cinema, leading back to its dawn in the 19th century, and each chapter has quick biographies of notable women of the time, written in a conversational, candid, and light tone.
The first few chapters were often a slog to read through because I was less interested in the older figures than modern filmmakers. The book also should have had a more thorough editor, allowing for quicker pacing, tighter chapters, and a better format (or perhaps that was just the fault of a poor format for Kindle). The book did not need to be placed in a chronological timeline as it is, as many of the modern women had influences that went back. If the book had been written with an interwoven format, where modern women and influences were mixed with older ones, the book would've been more interesting, keeping the reader engaged as well as connecting different women through the ages. But ultimately, this book felt like a reference PBS Special, where you would see images of women and their accomplishments, with a voiceover by Gwen Ifill (rest in peace) narrating their accomplishments, rather than a book that brought these women to life. Still, I enjoyed Alicia's tone guiding me through women that contributed greatly to film, but were forgotten. The most notable thing I learned was how women disappeared from important positions in cinema over the years, and came to be considered mainly sex objects in a male-driven industry. My favorite chapters were Alice Guy Blanche, Lois Weber, Rita Hayworth, and Marilyn Monroe. The last two were particularly awakening because we only know their public images.
I'm excited to see what Alicia comes up with for her follow up. I'm glad she wrote this.