by Russ Barker, Bookseller
20th century Hollywood once manufactured dreams on an industrial scale that fired the world's imagination, but the major studios' fabled swank and glamour now seem as remote as classical Greece; cinematic artifacts of gods and goddesses whose time has passed. I've been reading books that conjure up that dazzling lost realm in trenchantly troubling ways, probing the aching dissonance between truth and illusion in the often callous game of show business. The once lauded film artists, directors and stars were lucrative commodities, pulled between art and commerce by the grinding studio machine. Often that conflict became a matter of life and death; grand ambitions and brilliant careers ran aground when sexual politics collided with the stark realities of a male-dominated industry.
Though strikingly different, these three books share an affinity between them: each has a profound cultural relevance, and each clarifies the very nature of cinema.