Thursday, September 27, 2012

Five top books on Hollywood

Leo Braudy is among America's leading cultural historians and film critics. He currently is University Professor and Leo S. Bing Chair in English and American Literature at the University of Southern California. His books include The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy and Reality of an American Icon.

For the Wall Street Journal, Braudy named a five best list of books on Hollywood, including:
Material Dreams
by Kevin Starr (1990)

To begin to understand Hollywood beyond the clichés, it is best to start with an establishing shot: Hollywood in the context of Southern California. "Material Dreams," the second entry in Kevin Starr's multivolume history of California, focuses on the period that saw the transformation of a complicated and often incoherent mix of small studios, distributors, exhibitors, labs and locations into the studio system that dominated American filmmaking until the 1960s. "In 1923," he writes, "a pamphlet appeared entitled Why Los Angeles Will Become the World's Greatest City." It was during the period of tremendous growth and expansion in the silent-film era that the word "Hollywood" became the umbrella term for anything happening in the movie business, regardless of its geographic or economic relation to Hollywood itself. Starr's lively, insightful book chronicles the metamorphosis of a region known for agriculture and livestock into the world's filmmaking capital.
Read about another book on the list.

Also see Steven J. Ross's five best books on politics & the movie industryStefan Kanfer's five best books on remarkable Hollywood lives, and Jane Ciabattari's five best list of novels on Hollywood.

--Marshal Zeringue