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Summary

A call to arms from Empire magazine's 'geek queen', Helen O'Hara, that explores women's roles - both in front of and behind the camera - since the birth of Hollywood, how those roles are reflected within wider society and what we can do to level the playing field.

Hollywood was born just over a century ago, at a time of huge forward motion for women's rights. With no rules in place to stop them, there were women who forged ahead in many areas of filmmaking. Yet, despite the work of early pioneers like Dorothy Arzner, Mabel Normand, Mary Pickford and Alice Guy-Blaché, it soon came to embody the same old sexist standards. Women found themselves fighting a system that fed on their talent, creativity and beauty but refused to pay them the same respect as their male contemporaries - until now....

The tide has finally begun to turn. A new generation of women, both in front of and behind the camera, are making waves in the industry and are now shaping some of the biggest films to hit our screens.

In Women vs Hollywood: The Fall and Rise of Women in Film, film critic Helen O'Hara takes a closer look at the pioneering and talented women of Hollywood and their work in film since Hollywood began. And in understanding how women were largely written out of Hollywood's own origin story, and how the films we watch are put together, we can finally see how to put an end to a picture that is so deeply unequal - and discover a multitude of stories out there just waiting to be told.

©2021 Helen O'Hara (P)2021 Hachette Audio UK

Critic reviews

"Fascinating and righteous, Women vs Hollywood will be a game changer...as inspiring as it is informative." (Terri White, editor in chief of Empire)

"An enlightening page-turner, stacked with stories and stats that will have your jaw on the floor." (Anna Smith, host of the Girls on Film podcast) 

"This is the film history we need: one that gives leading roles to people who usually only get to be background players." (Pamela Hutchinson, film historian and critic)   

"A fascinating polemic." (Sunday Times)

"'A powerful, sobering and vital work." (The Mail on Sunday)

"A page-turning read, peppered with humour." (Sight & Sound

"A must read." (Edgar Wright) 

What listeners say about Women vs Hollywood

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i was hoping for more drama, but still ok

the subject is worthy and meaty, but somehow the book is a bit dull, not sure why . Still worth reading to gain insight on a much neglected topic.

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A must read/listen

Everyone that's interested in the history and future of movies should read this book. 5 stars.

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thoroughly recommend

Two books in one. First off a history of women in film and how it's not what you think. Secondly it's a modern feminist work which transcends far beyond the film world. I thoroughly recommend this, also the reading style is very entertaining, I laughed out loud on several occasions.

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Interesting and informative

A very informative, interesting, balanced and entertaining listen. Excellently written and read. A well researched, summarised and presented book on an extensive topic.

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Fascinating listening

This is a wonderful book, written by the fabulous Helen O'Hara, a film journalist I have admired for many years. The research and care that has gone into this book is clear, it's well structured so as to give each facet of the argument clearly, and though some of it (the Weinstein chapter especially) makes for uncomfortable listening, it's imperative that the stories are told, as they make up such an important part of the whole story.

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Fascinating, insightful, inspiring critique

Helen O’Hara dissects the history of Hollywood, from the silent era to the present day, from the times women had power within the studio system only to find it being taken away by men, to the present day as marginalised people find ways to find a voice in the wake of #MeToo, #OscarsSoWhite and other movements.

It’s expertly researched, written and read. O’Hara is the perfect guide, inspiring the listener with stories of success and enraging with tales of oppression. Essential for any fan of cinema.

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A brilliant and important story well told.

The attention to detail is second to none. Helen O'Hara's book is a powerful read. Both entertaining and highly informative. I loved it.

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  • Swashbuckle
  • 11-04-21

fascinating, well researched and informative

Helen O'Hara digs deep into the lesser explored history of Hollywood, from it's inception to the current day, revealing rare stories from a fresh perspective. Not limited to women in film, both behind and in front of the camera, this book explores all under represented people, and how things may be changing.
As a middle-aged white cis male listener, at no point did the book feel that it was preaching, it maintained a great pace of insights and stories, keeping commentary balanced with the occasional flourish of humour
I recommend this to anyone who is interested in film, it's influence on culture or representation.

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