THE HOLLYWOOD HISTORY OF THE WORLD: From One Million Years B.C to Apocalypse Now by George MacDonald Fraser

THE HOLLYWOOD HISTORY OF THE WORLD: From One Million Years B.C to Apocalypse Now

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An amusing premise, carried forth with splash and flash--as might be expected from the author of the Flashman historical spoofs and scriptwriter of James Bond's Octopussy and the four-hour The Three Musketeers. A tireless consumer of historical spectacles, Fraser here reviews the history of the world as seen by Hollywood, using first-class artwork from the John Kobal Collection of movie stills. Fraser opens with Raquel Welch and Carol Landis in cave-girl costumes for both versions of One Million Years B.C. About Raquel's version, Fraser says that is was ""greeted with derision. It happened to be good in every respect. . .""--and then he fairly well justifies himself, discussing the sets, beasts, and savages. He goes on to re-present the ancient world as seen in various Roman Empire epics, and sets before us Claudette Colbert, Vivien Leigh, and Elizabeth Taylor as rival Cleopatras, measuring the merits of each and then describing nicely the real Cleopatra. Many world figures are compared, including the Napoleons of Charles Boyer, Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger, and Herbert Lom; various Dukes of Wellington and generals through the ages. Garbo's Marie Waleska and Queen Christina are weighed, as are versions of Richard the Lion-Hearted, Lincoln, Billy the Kid, Henry VIII, and Anne Boleyn. He decides between Gregory Peck/Susan Hayward's David and Bathsheba and Yul Brynner/Gina Lollobrigida's Solomon and Sheba, and throws in Stewart Granger's ""most unlikely Lot"" in Sodom and Gomorrah to pepper his stew. Fraser's best point is well made--that we have been served fabulously by Hollywood art directors, who pay great sums for meticulous research and have done more for illustrating the past than any historian, however famed and respected. And now, have you tried Charlton Heston as Chinese Gordon in Khartoum, to whom Fraser gives four stars?

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 1988
Publisher: Beach Tree/Morrow