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Enjoyable cultural history that gives a compelling sense of how ’50s Hollywood reacted to change and how, in turn, it...

Anecdotal account of the world of 1950s cinema and the forces that helped destroy the studio system and reshape Hollywood.

Journalists Kashner and MacNair depict a Hollywood struggling against the audience-draining impact of TV while balancing the demand for wholesome films with the postwar drift toward realism and sexual candor. Thorough research and lighthearted analysis of numerous personalities and trends mix with discussions of landmark films that in retrospect appear to define the decade: Sweet Smell of Success, Rebel Without a Cause, Night of the Hunter, Peyton Place. The authors track the powerful influence on Hollywood of suburbanization, the Red Scare, juvenile delinquency, and societal concerns about the disintegration of the family—in addition to exploring Hollywood’s “religious period,” which resulted in The Robe, The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur, and The Greatest Story Ever Told; the advent of the influential approach to acting known as “The Method”; and the impact of directors and actors who arrived as refugees from Hitler’s Europe (Douglas Sirk) or were political or artistic rebels (Clifford Odets, Man Ray). The description of Method acting and the careers of those devoted to the technique (James Dean, Shelly Winters, Montgomery Clift) is a reminder of an era when the determination to capture reality occasionally out-manuevered Tinseltown glitz. The authors are so successful at enumerating the rising tawdriness of celebrities during this period and journalists’ inclination toward the exposé that the reader is likely to gain new respect for those individuals who survived with their reputations intact. Pages are filled with breezy but artful profiles of those survivors, and others: Rock Hudson, Robert Mitchum, Gloria Swanson, Burt Lancaster, Oscar Levant, directors Alexander Mackendrick and Nicholas Ray, screenwriter Alvah Bessie, playwright William Inge, Peyton Place author Grace Metalious, and columnists Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons.

Enjoyable cultural history that gives a compelling sense of how ’50s Hollywood reacted to change and how, in turn, it influenced a nation of moviegoers.

Pub Date: May 28, 2002

ISBN: 0-393-04321-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2002

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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