HOLLYWOOD EAST

LOUIS B. MAYER AND THE ORIGINS OF THE STUDIO SYSTEM

Business history of the moviemaker from Minsk who helped found MGM, became feared and powerful, treated his stable of stars like a tearful father, and was a renowned vulgarian whose mangled bons mots were the lifeblood of movie colony gossip. Film historian Altman is the daughter of the late Al Altman, MGM's New York talent scout from the time MGM was founded in 1924 until the early 60's. The energetic and devoted Mayer started early in the amusement business. In 1907, at age 22, in Haverhill, Massachusetts, a small city north of Boston, he borrowed $600 and opened the town's second movie theater, formerly known as the ``Garlic Box'' and renamed by him as the ``Gem.'' ``Louey said he regretted quitting school when he was twelve. He should have quit when he was ten. That way, everyone would not have had a head start on him,'' Altman tells us. Business gave Mayer stature. Then he had an even grander idea and cofounded a distributorship that delivered films to theaters, by rail in fireproof tins from New York, and got rental contracts from exhibitors for specific dates, then advertised the films to theater owners and the public. Mayer began making films in Brooklyn and, in 1923, made boy genius Irving Thalberg his production head. While the public still thought of Hollywood as the center of power for filmmaking, all money decisions were made in the studios' New York home offices. Joining his Mayer Company to the already established Metro and Goldwyn companies, Mayer became an employee of MGM, answerable to board chairman Nicholas Schenck, who in 1954 fired him. As MGM builds, then loses, its empire, Altman tells amusing stories about Metro stars, her father's screen tests of Joan Crawford and Greta Garbo, and of Mayer's great crying act when arguing with angry studio folk. Business and personalities well mixed—a much lighter read than Neal Gabler's An Empire of Their Own (1988). (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1992

ISBN: 1-55972-140-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Birch Lane Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1992

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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