Thursday, September 2, 2010
THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL: HOLLYWOOD IN THE FIFTIES
THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL: Hollywood in the Fifties. Sam Kashner and Jennifer MacNair. W. W. Norton; 2002.
This is a very entertaining and readable account of Hollywood trends, important movies, and notable performers, writers and directors during the very end of the film capitol's golden age. The Bad and the Beautiful has chapters on the scandals both in and surrounding the controversial publication Confidential; the troubled offspring of certain movie stars [such as Edward G. Robinson and his son Manny]; James Dean and Rebel Without a Cause; Rock Hudson, Douglas Sirk and Ross Hunter; Charles Laughton's Night of the Hunter; Kim Novak and Sammy Davis Jr.; Sweet Smell of Success, Burt Lancaster and Walter Winchell; rival Hollywood "news hens" Hedda Hopper, Louella Parsons and Sheila Graham; the life and plays [Picnic; Come Back, Little Sheba] of William Inge and the film versions thereof; and Gloria Swanson and Sunset Boulevard. The book also details how Hollywood was completely changing in this decade, what with the inroads of television, the breakdown of the studio system, and the increasing use of location filming over shooting strictly on sound stages. Some of this material may be familiar to the film enthusiast, but there is much that is new and interesting as well, all told in compelling prose that keeps the pages turning.
Verdict: Excellent look at the foibles and triumphs of 1950's Hollywood. ***1/2.