Joseph P. Kennedy Presents: His Hollywood Years

Cari Beauchamp, Author . Knopf $35 (506p) ISBN 978-1-4000-4000-1

The legendary financier and Kennedy-clan patriarch impressed even Hollywood with his heartlessness, according to this meticulous but chilly narrative of his stint as a movie mogul. Entertainment journalist Beauchamp (Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood ) follows Kennedy's 1926–1931 sojourn in the movie industry, when he amassed several studios and theater chains that became the nucleus of RKO Studios. Beauchamp's Kennedy is a charming, ruthless snake with a “ 'dollar sign implanted in his heart,' ” who used, betrayed and discarded a string of investors, stockholders, friends, employees and stars, including his longtime mistress, Gloria Swanson. That's Hollywood, but Kennedy, in Beauchamp's portrayal, lacked a crucial redeeming feature—the eye for talent and feel for moviemaking that led other studio chiefs to nurture great films along with great fortunes. Caring more about the biz than the show, he gutted his studios' creative potential through ruthless cost cutting and layoffs; the author's styling of him as a “visionary” empire builder rings hollow given how casually he disposed of his squeezed-dry holdings. Beauchamp adds a touch of Tinseltown glamour to her account of Kennedy's byzantine deal making and financial schemes, but he's not a lead that audiences will warm to. Photos. (Feb. 3)

Reviewed on: 12/01/2008
Release date: 02/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 14 pages - 978-1-4332-6108-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-4332-6106-0
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Paperback - 506 pages - 978-0-307-47522-0
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