Dix, Beulah Marie

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DIX, Beulah Marie

Born 25 December 1876, Kinston, Massachusetts; died 25 September 1970, Hollywood, California

Daughter of Henry and Marie Dix; married George M. Flebbe

Descended from Puritan settlers of Plymouth, Beulah Dix studied literature, the classics, and English history at Radcliffe College, which may have suggested the themes and events that dominated her dramas, comedies, novels, historical romances, and juvenile stories. She graduated summa cum laude and was the first woman to be awarded Harvard's prestigious George B. Sohier Literary Prize. The date of her marriage is not known, but it was before she moved in 1916 to Hollywood, where she wrote movie scripts for the next 30 years.

Dix's popularity as a novelist derived from Hugh Gwyeth (1899), based on the English civil war between the Cavaliers and the Roundheads. Thereafter, the history of the 17th century provided settings for much of Dix's work. The juvenile novels Merrylips (1906), Fighting Blade (1912), Maid Melicent (1914), and Blithe McBride (1916), center around a hero or heroine maturing in England during the Cromwell period or in America during the settling of the Puritan colonies. Human dignity poised against the ruthless demands of war, as well as authentic heroism against popular notions of bravery, also constitute a central theme in Dix's work.

Dix's first success in drama was A Rose o'Plymouth Town (1903), on which she collaborated with Evelyn Greenleaf Sutherland. A romantic comedy taking place in the home of Miles Standish in Plymouth, it was popular on Broadway and introduced Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., to the New York stage.

With the advent of World War I, Dix turned from war as a physical setting for individual assertions of heroism toward unmitigated condemnations of it. Her characters are not always superior to mass violence and genocide, but are often corrupted by opportunities to unleash their predatory and sadistic proclivities. Across the Border (1915) is a one-act drama that opens with the gunning down of an idealistic young soldier risking his life to save his battalion. Awakening, he finds himself in a pleasant and impressive house, where he is received cordially, and gradually he realizes he is "across the border" in the spiritual realm of the dead. He is told gently that he must soon leave, for the other inhabitants are fearful of his past willingness to murder women and children, and to bomb cities and villages without warning. The soldier requests a return to the battlefield to convince those still fighting to put down arms, but, though this is granted, his words of admonishment to other soldiers are dismissed as the gibberish of a seriously wounded man. Returning "across the border" in defeat, the protagonist is jubilant his efforts have qualified him to remain in the House of God. Although one individual repents of his aggression, the war continues.

An intensely vituperative condemnation of patriotic declarations that war can be fought for the sake of humanity is found in Moloch (1916). The prologue of this drama presents a professor's family, characterized by warmth, intelligence, harmony, familial love, and cordiality. The epilogue exposes the disastrous effects of war upon this family, now reduced in number, with conjugal, paternal, and romantic ties severed. The greatest irony, however, is the anticipation of some members toward a second imminent war in which their former enemy is now their ally.

Whether in drama, the novel, or historical romance, Dix's style is swiftly paced and concise, replete with skillfully drawn characters who confront the challenges of political and historical realities. These same qualities, accompanied by a vigorous and lively style and poignant dramatic confrontations, made Dix a successful screenwriter in Hollywood, where she wrote scripts for such silent movies as Black Magic, Their Own Desire, The Hostage, Hidden Pearls, and They Made Me a Criminal.

Other Works:

Cicely's Cavalier (1897). The Beau's Comedy (with C. A. Harper, 1902). The Life, Treason, and Death of James Blount of Breckenhow (1903). The Breed of the Treshams (with E. G. Sutherland, 1903). Fair Maid (1905). Soldier Rigdale (1905). The Fair Maid of Graystones (1905). Young Fernwald (1906). Allison's Lad and Other Martial Interludes (1910). Friends in the End (1911). Betty Bide-at-Home (1912). The Gate of Horn (1912). Mother's Son (1913). The Legend of St. Nicholas (1913). Little God Ebisu (1914). The Enemy (1915). The Making of Christopher Ferringham (1915). A Pageant of Peace (1915). The Battle Months of George Daurella (1916). Clemency (1916). The Glorious Game (1916). Where War Comes (1916). Hands Off! (1919). The Captain of the Gate (1921). Turned About Girls (1922). The Road to Yesterday (1925). A Little Captive Lad (1926). The Girl Comes Home (1927). Pity of God (1932). Ragged Enemy (1934). Wedding Eve Murder (1941).


Logan, M. S., American Women: Images and Realities (1972). Scott, E. F., Hollywood When Silents Were Golden (1972).

Other reference:

NYT (30 Sept. 1902, 18 Oct. 1914, 21 Sept. 1915, 3 Dec. 1916).