Saturday, May 28, 2016

Authors and their Cats: Elinor Glyn

Happy Caturday! Authors and their Cats: Elinor Glyn

Elinor Glyn (née Sutherland; 17 October 1864 – 23 September 1943) was a British novelist and scriptwriter who specialized in romantic fiction that was considered scandalous for its time. She popularized the concept of It. Although her works are relatively tame by modern standards, she had tremendous influence on early 20th-century popular culture and perhaps on the careers of notable Hollywood stars such as Rudolph Valentino, Gloria Swanson and Clara Bow in particular. 

From Wikipedia: 
Glyn pioneered risqué, and sometimes erotic, romantic fiction aimed at a female readership, which was radical for its time, though her writing would not be considered scandalous by modern standards. She coined the use of the term "It", which is repeatedly yet erroneously described as a euphemism for sexuality or sex appeal. In 1919 she signed a contract with William Randolph Hearst's International Magazine Company for stories and articles that included a clause for the motion picture rights. She was brought over from England to write screenplays by the Famous Players-Lasky Production Company. She wrote for Cosmopolitan and other Hearst press titles, giving advice on how to keep your man and also some health & beauty tips. The Elinor Glyn System of Writing (1922) gives insights into writing for Hollywood studios and magazine editors at this time. From the 1927 novel, "It": "To have 'It', the fortunate possessor must have that strange magnetism which attracts both sexes.... In the animal world 'It' demonstrates in tigers and cats—both animals being fascinating and mysterious, and quite unbiddable."

From the 1927 movie, "It": "self-confidence and indifference as to whether you are pleasing or not". Glyn was the celebrated author of such early 20th-century bestsellers as "It", Three Weeks, Beyond the Rocks and other novels which were then considered quite racy. The screenplay of the novel “It” helped Glyn gain popularity as a screenwriter. However, she is only credited as being an author, adapter, and co-producer on the project. She also made a cameo appearance in the film. On the strength of the popularity and notoriety of her books, Glyn moved to Hollywood to work in the movie industry in 1920. She was one of the most famous women screenwriters in the 1920s. She has 28 story or screenwriting credits, three producing credits, and two credits for directing. Her first script was called The Great Movement and starred Gloria Swanson. She is credited with the re-styling of Swanson from giggly starlet to elegant star. The duo connected again when Beyond the Rocks was made into a silent film that was released in 1922; the Sam Wood-directed film stars Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino as a romantic pair. In 1927, Glyn helped to make a star of actress Clara Bow, for whom she coined the sobriquet "the It girl". In 1928, Bow also starred in Red Hair, which was based on Glyn's 1905 novel.

Apart from being a scriptwriter for the silent movie industry, working for both MGM and Paramount Pictures in Hollywood in the mid-1920s, she had a brief career as one of the earliest female directors. Her family established a company in 1924, Elinor Glyn Ltd, to which she signed her copyrights receiving an income from the firm and an annuity in later life. The firm was an early pioneer of cross-media branding. Glyn was responsible for many screenplays in the 1920s that included Six Hours (1923), Three Weeks (The Romance of a Queen) (1923) was one of her most famous pieces about a Queen in a struggling marriage that when on vacation, has a three week affair with a man. In addition to that, His Hour (1924), which was directed by King Vidor, Love’s Blindness (1925), a movie about a marriage that is done strictly for financial reasons only, Man and Maid (1925), about a man who must choose between two different women, The Only Thing (1926), Ritzy (1927), Red Hair (1928), which was a comedy vehicle to demonstrate the passion of red-haired people, and The Price of Things (1929).

Three screenplays based on Glyn's novels and a story in the mid to late twenties, Man and Maid, The Only Thing, and Ritzy did not do well at the box office, despite the success Glyn gained with her first project, The Great Movement, which was in the same genre. In 1930 she wrote her first non-silent film, called Such Men Are Dangerous, which was the last screenplay she did in the United States.


Bill Crider said...

What I remember about Elinor Glyn is a bit of doggerel that I picked up in grad school:

Would you like to sin
with Elinor Glyn
on a tiger skin?
Or would you prefer
to err with her
or some other fur?

The value of higher education can't be underestimated.

Janet Rudolph said...

Love it, Bill!

Priscilla said...

I wish I had gone to your school, Bill....

Marcia said...

Before this post i had never heard of Eleanor Glyn..after Bill's "doggerel, Eleanor is now "unforgettable".

Bill Crider said...

I'm happy I was able to raise the level of discussion here.