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Reel Women: Pioneers of the Cinema 1896 to the Present Paperback – March, 1993


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 374 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum Intl Pub Group; Reprint edition (March 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826405797
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826405791
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,279,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Writer/producer/director Acker's volume capably fills a surprisingly neglected gap in the film field by profiling more than 120 women directors, writers, producers, editors, stuntpersons, etc., who worked or are working in the U.S. film industry. Coverage is from the 19th century to the present day. Each entry includes a biographical sketch, emphasizing interview quotes, and filmographies (some selective). Acker wisely avoids any critical analyses of her subjects' films, and should be commended for her accuracy. Her resource is more compact, comprehensive, and useful (while more pricey) than works such as Louise Heck-Rabi's Women Filmmakers (Scarecrow, 1984).
- David Bartholomew, NYPL
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Here is a comprehensively researched encyclopedia of women in every area of the film industry: writers, editors, directors, producers, animators and stunt women. A brief biography of each woman is followed by a complete listing of her work. Would it surprise you to know that one of the earliest film companies was owned by Helen Keller, and she produced and starred in Deliverance, a 1918 production about her life. This book is not only packed with the contributions women have made to cinema, it is also an excellent resource for discovering the many films created and shaped by women (you can rent many of them at your local video store). You will no doubt be surprised at the number of well-known film classics you recognize. -- From The WomanSource Catalog & Review: Tools for Connecting the Community for Women; review by Ilene Rosoff

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By sabrina@2xtreme.net on July 31, 1998
Format: Paperback
As a graphic design intern I had the supreme pleasure of working with Ally Acker on the video version of this book. Ally's undying, unflinching commitment to bringing the story of women in cinema to the general public is one of the finest works I've ever read, and is a resource for information and inspiration for my own fledgling forays into the world of film. Everyone, regardless of their interest or occupation, should read this book to update their knowledge of our country's history, and particularly of the pioneering women of the world of film.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 18, 1998
Format: Paperback
Comprehensive to say the least! I've just discovered this amazing book...Seems like the only one like it on the shelves, and it's already out of print. Why? Female directors, producers, editors, writers, technicians, all pioneered the craft of filmmaking since it's inception in 1896. I'm a graduate of film school and not even my women professors offered this information. What is women's history always deemed obsolete or "out of print" or unimportant? An imperitive resource for anyone truly interested in film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Heather Arnet on December 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
I can't understand how anyone has written a bad review of this book. It is filled with historical information on the women who pioneered the medium and who continue to create ground breaking work in film. My favorite thing about the book is that it does not promote just "the stars" but the important people behind the camera too - the directors, cinematographers, stunt women, and others who have built a lush history of women in film. Applause for Ally Acker for presenting such crucial information in an orderly and friendly manner. The books is equally filled with relevant facts, photos, and anecdotes. This book should be mandatory reading for every first year film student.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just to be clear, this is an encyclopedic history of women who worked behind the camera, and not a narrative history. The book includes short biographies of 127 women (and one production company) who worked in high-profile occupations -- writers, directors, producers -- along with others who worked in less glamorous positions -- editors, stuntwomen, animators. There are several entries for women who started as actresses before moving behind the camera. (Those who worked purely as actresses aren't really discussed here.) There are also 16 entries for American women of color, and 16 more for women who built their careers outside of North America. There are also several more entries for women who made unique contributions to the industry, such as gossip columnists Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, technical pioneers like Natalie Kalmus of Technicolor and cinematographer Brianne Murphy, costume designer Edith Head, and production assistants who worked for (and often propped up the careers of) powerful movie men like the De Mille brothers, Alfred Hitchcock, and David O. Selznick.

According to the introduction, Acker wrote the book because the men who ran PBS in 1985 shot down her pitch for a documentary on this topic. The documentary might have been interesting, but in the long run the book is of more value as a quick-access source of information. (Also, PBS rarely sells videos of its 1980s era documentaries nowadays, so having published the book was definitely beneficial.)

There are occasional errors scattered throughout the book, for which I took away one star from my overall rating of the book. Some of them are due to limited and/or erroneous information commonly available at the time that the book was written. That, of course, isn't Acker's fault.
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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
After the rave reviews, I was expecting a decent book.. very disappointed
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More About the Author

A New York City gal, and coming of age in the fervent, fabulous 70's with unsurpassed female role models (Gloria, Bella, Alice, Germaine...) Ally Acker believed that women could accomplish anything (with a father who backed her 1000 percent). Having gotten her BA at Northwestern (with Frank Gallati and Lila Heston as mentors), and her MFA in film and poetry at Columbia (with Bob Hass as a mentor), Acker was flummoxed when in 1985 she picked up a tidbit of herstory that historians forgot to write down, and teachers forgot to teach: More women existed in decision-making positions in Hollywood before 1920 than at any other time in history. For the next six years, doing all original research, Acker wrote REEL WOMEN: PIONEERS OF THE CINEMA, as well as directed and wrote ten documentaries on the subject, FILMMMAKERS ON FILM. The first of these award-winning documentaries premiered at the Kennedy Center, in Washington, DC. All the while, underneath the volcano, poetry flowed. First, SURVIVING DESIRE. Next, WAITING FOR THE BELOVED. And in 2010, SOME HELP FROM THE DEAD. 2010 is also the year of completion of Acker's documentary, "The Flowering of the Crone: Leonora Carrington, Another Reality. (www.reelwomen.com)

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