Thursday, January 14, 2010

Vintage Novels {A Mouse is Born}

A Mouse is Born

Published in 1951, A Mouse is Born is Anita Loos' satire of the movie star's tell-all confessions. It is told by Effie Huntriss to her unborn child. Miss Huntriss has been confined to her bed for the duration of her pregnancy and has to deal with her manager being most upset with the damage the nine months without making a picture will do to her career. She is also worried about what her current husband Clyde is getting up to while filming his latest Shakespearean picture with that mysterious new Swedish import, the beautiful Inga Swansen. In order keep her mind worry-free, she begins to read great literary tomes supplied by the local bookseller named Vernon, who suggests that she write her own memoirs. And so, with her grade five education, she does so and addresses them as letters to her "Little Mouse" who will one day read them.
I find the character of Effie to be quite sweet, unconsciously intelligent and not at all like the major career climbing film star that she is supposed to be. Her own history of the development of Hollywood from a small farming town to the major movie production centre to be hilariously inaccurate, but obviously based on Miss Loos' own experiences. And Effie's poor spelling to be the most charming thing in the novel. After she decides to write her memoirs a few chapters in, Effie switches from the present to Hollywood history to her own past, involving her many husbands and her rise from a small town girl to her rise to stardom and her many travels and husbands along the way. You also get her own theories about love, beauty, acting, making pictures and the ideal man, which for her is a studio film cutter named Jimmy who refuses to date stars. Even though Effie goes through having Clyde's "deteckatives" (sic.) watch who comes to visit her all day, a sleeping pill problem while pregnant and a divorce, she does get her own happy ending (but I wont spoil it any further).

A Mouse is Born page 75
Caption: "In Orient Express my conception of Fritzi Gabour, a well-known spy, got me mentioned for the Oscar once."

The best thing about the novel, aside from it's bubbling wit, is it's illustrations by Pallavicini. I've scanned three of them, but there are sixteen in total and are really works of art on their own, but it the context of the book, it makes Effie Huntriss' story perfect and sheer joy to read.
There are no adaptations of the novel and again like last week's No Mother to Guide Her, I feel that the story would lose a great deal of it's sparkle if it were to be adapted.
Of her four novels, this is the only one not to have been reprinted. However, if you cannot find a copy at your local library, then you can order a quite inexpensive copy from here.

A Mouse is Born page 193
Caption: "In the Three-Million-Dollar Production called La Pompadore, your Mommy portrayed a world-famous French Madam."

1 comment:

Ms. B said...

What cute illustrations!!