Written by Frances Marion

Written by Frances Marion

17 Episodes

For almost three decades, Frances Marion was Hollywood’s highest-paid screenwriter (male or female), a pioneer who shaped the nascent art of script writing and whose seemingly boundless imagination yielded some of the most unforgettable words and stories ever put on screen. Like fellow trailblazers Lois Weber, Dorothy Arzner, and Anita Loos, Marion was drawn to Hollywood at a time when women could still carve out a place for themselves in the burgeoning film industry, establishing herself as a hugely successful writer (and occasional director) for her best friend, Mary Pickford. The top screenwriter at MGM during the late 1920s and early 1930s, Marion penned classics like THE WIND, ANNA CHRISTIE, THE BIG HOUSE, THE CHAMP, MIN AND BILL, and DINNER AT EIGHT for stars such as Lillian Gish, Greta Garbo, Marie Dressler, Wallace Beery, and Jean Harlow, along the way becoming the first writer to win two Academy Awards. While her remarkable versatility meant that she could move easily between acclaimed literary adaptations, sparkling comedies, and gritty crime dramas, Marion’s piercing insight into human nature transcends genre and makes her work uniquely timeless.

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Written by Frances Marion
  • Written by Frances Marion Teaser

    Episode 1

  • Stella Dallas

    Episode 2

    Directed by Henry King • 1925 • United States
    Starring Ronald Colman, Belle Bennett, Alice Joye

    One of the silent era’s most popular and moving melodramas, the beautifully mounted original screen version of Olive Higgins Prouty’s oft-filmed novel was adapted by Frances Marion and produced by Sam...

  • The Scarlet Letter

    Episode 3

    Directed by Victor Sjöström • 1926 • United States
    Starring Lillian Gish, Lars Hanson, Henry B. Walthall

    Lillian Gish gives one of her—and the silent cinema’s—greatest performances in this poetic adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel. She is the seventeenth-century New England seamst...

  • The Winning of Barbara Worth

    Episode 4

    Directed by Henry King • 1926 • United States
    Starring Ronald Colman, Vilma Bánky, Gary Cooper

    Gary Cooper got his big break with his supporting role in this hugely popular silent western. While rancher Jefferson Worth (Charles Lane) teams with a big-city developer on a grand plan to irrigate th...

  • The Wind

    Episode 5

    Directed by Victor Sjöström • 1928 • United States
    Starring Lillian Gish, Lars Hanson, Montagu Love

    In her stunning last silent performance, Lillian Gish crafts a harrowing portrayal of a sheltered young woman who travels to her cousin’s ranch in Texas, where she finds herself at the mercy of br...

  • Their Own Desire

    Episode 6

    Directed by E. Mason Hopper • 1929 • United States
    Starring Norma Shearer, Belle Bennett, Lewis Stone

    “Forty-five? And falls in love?” Lally Marlett laughs off the thought that her middle-aged father could still feel the flame of romance—until he runs off with another woman. Shocked and embitter...

  • Min and Bill

    Episode 7

    Directed by George Hill • 1930 • United States
    Starring Marie Dressler, Wallace Beery, Dorothy Jordan

    The most popular—and perhaps unexpected—superstar duo of the early 1930s was born with this touching comedic drama. Pugnacious Min (Marie Dressler) has three passions in life: running her seedy ...

  • The Big House

    Episode 8

    Directed by George Hill • 1930 • United States
    Starring Chester Morris, Wallace Beery, Lewis Stone

    Kent Marlowe (Robert Montgomery) believed his life would consist of a good job, a wife, kids. Instead, after he accidentally kills a man while driving drunk, he’s sent to the penitentiary. Now, loc...

  • The Champ

    Episode 9

    Directed by King Vidor • 1931 • United States
    Starring Wallace Beery, Jackie Cooper, Irene Rich

    Wallace Beery won an Academy Award and Jackie Cooper was launched to stardom for their indelible portrayals of a broken-down prizefighter and his devoted son in this deeply moving, unabashedly sentime...

  • Blondie of the Follies

    Episode 10

    Directed by Edmund Goulding • 1932 • United States
    Starring Marion Davies, Robert Montgomery, Billie Dove

    Two girls, friends from the New York slums, take very different paths in their quest for fame and fortune in BLONDIE OF THE FOLLIES. Practical working girl Blondie (former Ziegfeld girl Mari...

  • Cynara
    1:18:25
    Episode 11

    Cynara

    Episode 11

    Directed by King Vidor • 1932 • United States
    Starring Ronald Colman, Kay Francis, Phyllis Barry

    While his wife Clemency (the ever-glamorous Kay Francis) is away in Venice, staid, supposedly content British barrister Jim Warlock (Ronald Colman) has his life turned upside down by an idyllic affai...

  • Dinner at Eight

    Episode 12

    Directed by George Cukor • 1933 • United States
    Starring Marie Dressler, Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery, John Barrymore

    A sparkling ensemble cast—led by Jean Harlow, Lionel and John Barrymore, Marie Dressler, and Wallace Beery—lights up this quippy pre-Code tale of drawing room intrigue based o...

  • Secrets
    1:23:44
    Episode 13

    Secrets

    Episode 13

    Directed by Frank Borzage • 1933 • United States
    Starring Mary Pickford, Leslie Howard, C. Aubrey Smith

    Early Hollywood superstar Mary Pickford made her final screen appearance in this offbeat romantic western, a labor of love that she also produced. Directed with characteristic sensitivity by F...

  • Riffraff
    1:33:55
    Episode 14

    Riffraff

    Episode 14

    Directed by J. Walter Ruben • 1936 • United States
    Starring Jean Harlow, Spencer Tracy, Una Merkel

    Jean Harlow and Spencer Tracy make sparks in this vivid slice of life with a socially conscious undercurrent. They play a pair of tough-talking tuna-cannery workers running afoul of both the higher...

  • Knight Without Armour

    Episode 15

    Directed by Jacques Feyder • 1937 • United Kingdom

    A British spy tries to get a countess out of the new Soviet Union.

  • Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Power of Women in Hollywood

    Episode 16

    Directed by Bridget Terry • 2000 • United States

    From 1915 to 1939, Frances Marion was one of the most powerful talents in the movie industry. In one of the most liberating eras for women in film, she wrote more than two hundred movies and was the world's highest paid screenwriter—man or woman. ...