I must confess that I did not read the original hard cover version of Picture People. Instead, I opted for the abridged paperback reprint, unaccountably titled Don’t Say No (1956). So it’s imaginable (barely) that the longer version would be more satisfying. Olga Rosmanith (1893-1978) wrote three other novels, two of them paperback originals in the 1950s. She is also the originator of several inspirational quotations appearing on other websites.
Picture People by Olga Rosmanith. Doubleday, Doran and Co. (1934), 301 pp.
Film director Erich Muller, vacationing in his native Austria, meets shop worker Josepha Schmidt while buying some Viennese pastry. She’s tantalizingly beautiful, and Muller believes he can make her a star. Back in Los Angeles, he sequesters her until her movie debut. His wife, Gail, who works in the studio publicity department, fears that Josepha may be more than her husband can resist. When Gail meets Vincent Safian, the simpatico playwright working on the script, she develops resistance issues of her own.
Unlike many Hollywood novels, Picture People has nothing satirical about it. Rosmanith expects the reader to believe that a talentless German-speaking shopgirl can be turned into a movie star through the genius of a great director. Muller fabricates bogus inner qualities from Josepha’s appearance alone. In real life she’s ignorant, self-centered and manipulative. That’s an interesting idea well worth exploring. Unfortunately, the author is primarily concerned with Gail, her marriage and her relationship with Vincent. Bringing vitality to this standard marriage-in-peril story turns out to be more than Rosmanith can manage. The book sinks into insipidity. Die-hard fans of Hollywood fiction might be interested. Others can safely stay clear.