Hollywood: Mecca of the Movies

Blaise Cendrars, Author, Garrett White, Translator, Jean Guerin, Illustrator
Blaise Cendrars, Author, Garrett White, Translator, Jean Guerin, Illustrator University of California Press $50 (195p) ISBN 978-0-520-07807-9
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 195 pages - 978-0-520-91250-2
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Though Cendrars (1887-1961) is best known as a modernist French poet and novelist, he was also a journalist who chronicled for Paris-Soir a two-week visit to Hollywood in 1936. The pieces, later published as a book in several languages, are only now translated into English; and White, a freelance film journalist, provides an extensive, thoughtful introduction to this only fitfully interesting book. The familiar paradoxes that animate the text--Hollywood is an ``illusion factory'' where commerce reigns, a ``New Byzantium'' that is a quintessentially American mix of cynicism and joy, vulgarity and beauty--are largely bereft of the details or wit that would make them fresh. And although Cendrars's novel Sutter's Gold was the basis of a film, in these pages he distances himself from Hollywood. He seems to have met no one of note during his visit, nor does he leaven his superiority with any expression of admiration for the stars who made Hollywood glamorous. (Apr.)
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