David Wallace, Author LOST HOLLYWOODDavid Wallace

Forget about the Internet Americanizing the world—it was film, from the silent days forward, that began cultural globalization, claims Wallace at the outset of this short, quirky take on Hollywood's impact on world culture. Using famous architectural structures—the glamorous Garden of Allah apartment complex, the Hollywood sign, the Hollywood Bowl—as jumping-off points, he sketches a free-wheeling history of the industry through its triumphs and failures, great and petty. While his anecdotes and thumbnail sketches won't impress serious film historians with fresh insights, casual readers will find them deliciously entertaining. Wallace is at his best when he assumes the tone that Kenneth Anger perfected in his legendary Hollywood Babylon books—a tone of malicious gossip rendered with jaundiced irony—though Wallace maintains a more respectable aura. Known for his celebrity interviews, Wallace covers such Hollywood scandals as the Thomas Ince murder and Peg Entwistle's suicidal leap from the H in the above-mentioned sign, while also dishing dirt on lesser-known figures, such as Pentecostal evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, who founded one of the largest churches in America, the Angeles Temple, before she was consumed by scandal. Wallace is careful to warn that some of his information may be more folklore than established fact (in relating how John Barrymore's corpse was reputedly employed in a practical joke on Errol Flynn, he includes varying versions and denials). But he is less concerned with veracity than with how Hollywood rumor becomes American myth. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/19/2001
Release date: 04/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-312-28863-1
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