The Bad and the Beautiful: Hollywood in the Fifties

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9780393043211: The Bad and the Beautiful: Hollywood in the Fifties

The drama and tragedy of Hollywood's most scandalous and dynamic decade, and the legends who have endured. In these stories of momentous events and legendary characters, Sam Kashner and Jennifer MacNair re-create the drama and contradictions of Hollywood's most scandalous and dynamic decade. Colourful and humorous anecdotes of such public icons as Lana Turner, Rock Hudson, Kim Novak, and Mae West profile the celebrities' lives away from the camera, telling of the private moments that were exploited by tabloids such as "Confidential" and gossip queens Louella Parsons, Hedda Hopper, and Sheilah Graham. Chronicling the unique obsessions of the era, the authors also offer behind-the-scenes commentary on the making of classic films: Hollywood's curious religious revival with "The Robe"; the film industry's exploitation of the potboiler "Peyton Place", even as it rejected the housewife who penned it; and the anarchic director Nick Ray, who, on the set of the enduring classic "Rebel without a Cause", taught his teenage stars about much more than acting. The authors reveal a city at a crossroads, attempting to reinvent the magic and mystery of its past glories.

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About the Author:

Sam Kashner writes for GQ and Vanity Fair and is the author of the novel Sinatraland and other nonfiction books on Hollywood. Jennifer MacNair, a graduate of Columbia University's School of Journalism, is a contributor to the online edition of PBS's NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

From Publishers Weekly:

The 1950s are often dismissed as a peaceful interval between the war-ravaged '40s and the socially stormy '60s. Not so, according to journalists Kashner and MacNair, who offer a juicy, gossip-gorged expos‚ of '50s Hollywood. They begin, appropriately, with the story of Confidential magazine, a publication that outed gays and revealed interracial romances, prison records and extramarital affairs. The chapter "The Lavender Closet" concentrates on homosexual scandals involving tennis great Bill Tilden, actress Lizabeth Scott and writer/actor/director No‰l Coward. Kashner and MacNair comprehensively cover anticommunist hysteria, along with powerful studies of blacklisted screenwriter Alvah Bessie and actor Lee J. Cobb. The book's most striking subject is Nicholas Ray, director of Rebel Without a Cause. Inevitably, the authors emphasize the film's sexual backstory (Ray and Rebel cast member Dennis Hopper were both having affairs with Natalie Wood), but Ray's genius, his battles against the studio system and contribution to the fiery James Dean legend enhance the director's stature as a neglected immortal. Kashner and MacNair deal amusingly with Hollywood's religious period, ranging from Billy Graham's low-budget Mr. Texas to Twentieth Century Fox's Cinemascope circus, The Robe. Well-known anecdotes about Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Lana Turner are outshone by gritty profiles of legendary screenwriter Ernest Lehman (The Sweet Smell of Success), self-destructive novelist Grace Metalious (Peyton Place), anorexic actress Sandra Dee (Imitation of Life), suicidal playwright William Inge (Picnic) and cutthroat columnists Louella Parsons, Hedda Hopper and Sheilah Graham. These accounts, often dipped in acid, will keep readers flipping pages and highlight Kashner and MacNair's intention to write "a prismatic rather than an academic view of 1950s Hollywood." Photos.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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