F. Scott Fitzgerald in Hollywood”I saw the novel…was becoming subordinated to a mechanical…art…I had a hunch that the talkies would make even the best selling novelist as archaic as silent pictures.” (Mizener 165) F. Scott Fitzgerald was keenly aware of the shift in the public’s interest from novels to movies. This change made Hollywood stand alone for Fitzgerald as the sole means for expressing his talent and for gaining appropriate recognition, as well as the new way to make money. For F. Scott Fitzgerald, the combination of celebrity and financial benefits made Hollywood an alluring scene.
In 1927 Fitzgerald got his first chance to go to Hollywood. The financially strained Fitzgeralds moved out to California when Scott accepted an offer from John Considine of United Artists. While in Hollywood, Zelda and Scott fell into a lively social scene. It was during this time that Scott met the actress Lois Moran. The mutual attraction inspired Scott to take a screen test so that he could star in a movie with her. While Scott never got to act with Lois, he did use her to create the character of Rosemary in Tender Is the Night – even including the screen test arrangement! Social engagements aside, Fitzgerald worked hard on his script for United Artists. Titled Lipstick, the movie was to be designed specifically for Constance Talmadge, a well-known actress of the time. The script was ultimately rejected, however, and the Fitzgeralds left California. Years later, Fitzgerald commented on this time in Hollywood,
At that time, I had been generally acknowledged for several years as the top American writer both seriously and, as far as prices went, popularly. I…was confidant to the point of conceit. Hollywood made a big fuss over us and the ladies all looked very beautiful to a man of thirty. I honestly believed that with no effort on my part I was a sort of magician with words…Total result – a great time and no work. I was to be paid only a small amount unless they made my picture – they didn’t. (Mizener 205)Fitzgerald had officially begun his painful relationship with Hollywood, which for the remainder of his life would simultaneously represent endless promise and unceasing frustration.
The second time Fitzgerald went to Hollywood was in 1931, under the invitation of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer who wanted Scott to do an adaptation of Red-Headed Woman, a book by Katherine Brush.