MOVIELAND: Hollywood and the Great American Dream  by Jerome Charyn

MOVIELAND: Hollywood and the Great American Dream

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Personal/cultural memoir of growing up as a movie addict, with side-glances at the business. It's hard to dislike a book that thumbnails many of your favorite movies, but when it fails to dig in anywhere for more than a page or two, a deep feeling of pointlessness comes over the reader. Charyn's opening brio turns into pastepot references and snippets we've read dozens of times before, and perhaps only a quarter or a third of the text is a first-person, firecracker-blowing-up-in-your-hand experience. In fact, there are no firecrackers, since the book is more like a history of American movie palaces and films than the splendiferous heartsong it starts out as before settling for inclusiveness. Two or three longer interviews or passages arise (Paul Newman, Viveca Lindfors, Louise Brooks), steppingstones across the broad placidity. (You've heard almost every word of the Newman interview before.) Charyn has some nice moments--about lovely June Duprez's out-of-place orientalism in the London East en-based None But the Lonely Heart, or when he says that in a movie theater "We are ghosts absorbing other ghosts, cannibals sitting in a chair. . ." His varied love songs to Rita Hayworth as Gilda, to early Brando, middle Newman, Gable, and Astaire are merely lyrical, however, and lack any of the astute flair of similar entries in David Thomson's Biographical Dictionary of Film, while his research into moguls such as Louis B. Mayer or Irving Thalberg has all the depth of a Sunday supplement piece. Heartfelt gestures that fail to carry.

Pub Date: May 25th, 1989
ISBN: 399-13423-9
Publisher: Putnam
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