Celluloid Peach

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Not long after the 20thcentury arrived, camera-frenzy was rife, and `models' for amateur photographers could make a living. Among them, in Brooklyn, is young, beautiful, Melia Nord. Answering an advertisement for people to appear before a movie camera she is asked to dance briefly as if a girl in a Wild West bar. Melia takes off - a high-kicker with no inhibitions. The novice film crew are mesmerised: `Keep the camera rolling' the director commands. A star of the silver screen is born. So begins another movie career, like all the others - untrained, untried people are initially gathered into innocent scenes - producer, director, script writer, costume maker, set designer, and so on, are all characters worth watching as they learn their tricks and trade, in this entrancing and frequently humorous depiction of what was to become one of the world's biggest industries. Steeped in well-researched and vivid early 20thcentury details, peppered with Pearson's crackling dialogue and non-stop action, Celluloid Peach becomes compulsive reading. The `ideas' discussions about a villain chasing a girl over plane wings is as hilarious as a debate about rescuing an actress swallowed by a whale - a plank wedged in the mouth would prevent her from drowning - yes? Melia's ascent is to be as swift as her fall. The narrator, stuntman-turned-director, Lance Murdoch was also Melia's first cameraman. His attentiveness leads her to trust him. Their marriage is fun-packed until an idiotic on-set prank, by an unknown crew member, turns Melia towards self-destruction and a dreadful fate.