Helen Twelvetrees, Perfect Ingenue
Rediscovering a 1930s Movie Star and Her 32 Films
$21.95 paperback; $5.99 Kindle edition
One of the most insightful, intelligent film historians and best writers on early cinema, Cliff Aliperti has given us a book that offers a real understanding and inspiring look at one of pre-code cinema’s unfairly forgotten stars," James L. Neibaur, Examiner.com (full review)
At her peak, Helen Twelvetrees was leading lady to legends like John Barrymore and Spencer Tracy. Other early co-stars who were billed below her included Joan Blondell, John Wayne, and Clark Gable. Twelvetrees broke out in Her Man (1930) and affirmed her stardom in Millie (1931). Her ten-year Hollywood career is highlighted by a run of starring roles in pre-Code era melodramas, but Helen Twelvetrees kept working long after movie audiences had forgotten her.
She lost momentum for a variety of reasons. External factors such as typecasting, studio anarchy, and Production Code enforcement, combined with an independent attitude that spurred inconvenient headlines and whispers of temperament are among those that kept her career from progressing. At her peak she chose to follow natural impulses and start a family, but in terms of her career, her pregnancy couldn’t have come at a worse time. When she returned to the screen it was with a new studio, and the types of films she was known for were not as popular as they had been before her maternity leave. Afterward, time itself may have been Helen Twelvetrees’ greatest enemy: one can only remain an ingenue for so long.
Helen Twelvetrees, Perfect Ingenue is one-half biography, one-half film retrospective. Presented here are the life, loves, and career of an unexpectedly modern woman. An extensive collection of notes supports corrections and new findings about Twelvetrees, including her accurate birth-date and a previously unreported marriage, while also supplying additional background about each of her thirty-two movies: the good, the bad, and the lost.
Foreword by Dan Van Neste, author of The Whistler: Stepping Into the Shadows.
Illustrated with still photographs from the author's personal collection.
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Praise for Helen Twelvetrees, Perfect Ingenue
James L. Neibaur of Examiner.com calls it: "One of the most interesting and important film books of the young year," adding, "the documentation is original and significant." Full review.
Jacqueline T. Lynch, author of Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer.Star., says: "A prime example of a classic film fan taking the reins to produce a scholarly study of a neglected figure from the Golden Age of classic films in a way that I feel is refreshing, infinitely helpful to fans and students of old movies." Full review.
Silver Screenings says: "A fascinating account of an ambitious and hard-working woman ... Aliperti’s book is well written and incredibly well researched." Full review.
Speakeasy says: "Despite her decline, this is not a sad or bleak book but an enjoyable history ... Any fan of the collectible Citadel “Films of” book series will appreciate the modern twist on that format, a full biography followed by an expanded filmography. In the e-version this is especially well-structured and interactive ..." Full review.
A Classic Movie Blog says: "I think this is a good format for performers with short lives and brief careers ... I went into it with only mild curiosity about Twelvetrees and now I find my self pining for copies of unavailable, but intriguing films." Full review.
Judy says on Goodreads: "This fascinating book contains a well-researched account of Helen Twelvetrees' sadly short life, together with detailed reviews of all her films ... very well-written and easy to follow, and also contains many notes to refer to." Full review.