The Story of Hollywood

Barry Norman, Author Dutton Books $19.95 (344p) ISBN 978-0-453-00589-0
A tie-in with Norman's BBC-TV series, this book should be titled ``a story,'' rather than ``the story'' of Hollywood. As the British author mentions, his re-creation is not intended as a comprehensive history but, rather, an extension of the broadcast programs, which grew out of interviews with film veterans and neophytes. Lavishly illustrated, the volume is highlighted by Norman's witty, appealing delivery of information. He describes enormous changes in the movies from 1927 on, when the talkies killed many glittering careers and created new stars whose voices passed muster. The fall of one such performer, John Gilbert, is cited, against recent studies that argue that the actor was actually doomed because he ran afoul of Louis B. Mayer, MGM's draconian head. Mayer also reputedly blackballed actresses who spurned his passes. He frequently pursued celebrities outside the ``industry,'' and a photo here shows him greeting a supposedly famed couple, certainly not President and Mrs. Hoover, as the caption claims. Norman at his most interesting describes the differing responses to Hollywood movies in America and in England, according to such classifications as treatments of sex, crime, politics, etc., and closes with examples of filmmaking since the demise of the all-powerful studios. (August)
Reviewed on: 08/05/1988
Release date: 08/01/1988
Paperback - 978-0-452-26299-7
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