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Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Power of Women in Hollywood (2000)

This documentary, first shown on the Turner Classic Movies cable channel, tells of the life and career of screenwriter Frances Marion. By the mid 1920s, she was the most respected and ... See full summary »


Bridget Terry


Cari Beauchamp (book), Bridget Terry

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1 nomination. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Uma Thurman ... Narrator (voice)
Kathy Bates ... Frances Marion (voice)
Mary Lea Bandy Mary Lea Bandy ... Herself
Cari Beauchamp ... Herself
Kevin Brownlow Kevin Brownlow ... Himself
Jackie Cooper ... Himself
Martha Coolidge ... Herself
Fay Kanin ... Herself
Callie Khouri ... Herself
Martha Jenkins Lorah Martha Jenkins Lorah ... Herself
Leonard Maltin ... Himself
Polly Platt Polly Platt ... Herself
Robin Swicord ... Herself
Carson Thomson Carson Thomson ... Himself


This documentary, first shown on the Turner Classic Movies cable channel, tells of the life and career of screenwriter Frances Marion. By the mid 1920s, she was the most respected and highest paid script writer in Hollywood. She also became the first person to win two Oscars for her work (for The Big House (1930) and The Champ (1931)). Written by David Glagovsky <dglagovsky@prodigy.net>

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Release Date:

3 August 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women in Hollywood See more »

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References The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) See more »

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User Reviews

hey, she got Garbo talking
24 July 2013 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

Despite some excellent inroads, Hollywood today remains male-dominated, not only behind the scenes but in the scripts and the casting, right down to the extras. Geena Davis is conducting a study that will be released in February 2014, but having heard some of the statistics already, it's pretty shocking stuff. Here are a few: women buy 55% of film tickets; however, women directed 7% of the top 250 grossing films, wrote 8% of the top 250 grossing films, comprised 17% of all executive producers, 23% of all producers, 18% of editors, and 2% of cinematographers

So it's interesting to realize that early in film history, women actually dominated as writers, directors, and producers. Even Leonard Maltin doesn't know why it changed, but in the late '30s, it ended with a big thump.

This documentary tells the story of one of the greatest screenwriters of all time, Francis Marion, responsible for some great films, including "Anna Christie," "Dinner at Eight," "The Champ," "The Scarlet Letter" and many Mary Pickford films.

This is such a fascinating documentary about not only Marion, but the early power of women in film, their contributions, and their ultimate fall for power. For Marion, this happened due to the death of one of her great champions, Irving Thalberg, and it was about the same time that it happened to all of them.

Marion was not only talented, but generous, writing roles for friends who were out of work, such as Marie Dressler and Hedda Hopper.

The focus of the documentary is on her great friendship with Mary Pickford and her very happy marriage to Fred Thomson, who became an early western star and died tragically in 1928, leaving Marion with three young boys. However, the documentary does not talk about Marion's other marriages, a subsequent one to director George Roy Hill in 1930, which ended in 1933, and two marriages before she met Rex. It sort of makes it sound as if Mary and Marion were both single when they became friends; in reality, that isn't the case. I suspect, though I can't prove it, that although she was married to someone from 1911 to 1917, she was probably not living with her husband during all of those years.

The documentary contains some neat film footage and comments by Fay Kanin, Leonard Maltin, one of Marion's sons, and others.

Highly recommended, and a real eye-opener.

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