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From Hollywood ‘Pretty Girl’ to Empowered Novelist | Press "Enter" to skip to content

From Hollywood ‘Pretty Girl’ to Empowered Novelist

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All of this Moore recounts with — what is that inflection? Not rue, not regret, not extraneous affect; the reader is invited to supply all of that herself, and the effect is both mesmerizing and sometimes maddening. “I seemed to advance in haphazard leaps and jumps,” she says, “with no steadiness and always a bit out of order, always a little ahead of myself.” The mature author — whose most rattling novel, the 1995 thriller “In the Cut,” demanded that attention be paid to the haphazard leaps and jumps of self-destructive female sexual desire — looks back at the things she did, and the things that were done to her, with unnerving dispassion. She’s alternately methodical and vague. In certain lights, her narration shows ash-black humor.

That balancing act of wafting amiably and taking notes fiendishly reaches peak performance in her telling of her time in Hollywood from the late 1960s through the 1970s. She arrived for her gig as a Slaygirl to find there was no room booked for her at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel; she slept in a broom closet. Not for long, though. She was taken to a swanky nightclub with Cassini and the movie’s associate producer, Douglas Netter. Netter was married with grown children, and Moore was still married, under increasing strain, to her husband in Chicago, but “became, more or less overnight, his girlfriend.” She had no illusions that she was any good as an actor. “I was a pretty girl,” she writes, “malleable up to a point, discreet, high-spirited and tolerant.”

A terrible thing happened: Her husband came to Acapulco, where the movie was shooting, and when Moore said she wanted a divorce, he beat her unconscious. (They divorced.) A nice thing happened: She was invited to dinner by a man attracted to her beauty, Robby Wald, a William Morris agent and the son of the Hollywood producer Jerry Wald and his wife, Connie. Who came to dinner at the Walds’ place? Only John Gregory Dunne, Joan Didion and Natalie Wood, among others.

We haven’t even reached the part where she gets a job as a script reader for Warren Beatty, even though she had no experience. At an interview with Beatty and the screenwriter Robert Towne, Beatty, after telling her she was too tan, asked to see her legs. “I was wearing a short linen skirt,” Moore writes, “and I placed my hands on my hips to raise it a few inches, not in the least offended as Warren and Bob checked out my legs. ‘Can you start tomorrow morning?’ Warren asked.”


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