Beneath Mulholland: Thoughts on Hollywood and It's Ghosts

Beneath Mulholland: Thoughts on Hollywood and It's Ghosts

by David Thomson


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Beneath Mulholland: Thoughts on Hollywood and It's Ghosts by David Thomson

"It's time David Thomson be generally recognized not just as one of our sharpest writers-on-film, but as one of our wisest and best writers, period."
—Film Comment

"The most obvious contender for the best film critic in the world."
—The Independent (London)

David Thomson is at his incomparable best in this stunning collection of essays on Hollywood films—their stars and the illusions they create. He explores a sort of twilight zone where film actors and the characters they play become part of our reality, as living beings and as ghosts, residing on or buried beneath Mulholland Drive, or wandering among us.

Like all of Thomson's writing on the movies, Beneath Mulholland is rich in its understanding of Hollywood, laced with irony, thoroughly provocative and brilliantly creative. There is also a steady fascination with love, sex, death, voyeurism, money and glory, all the preoccupations of Los Angeles—or of that movie L.A. whose initials, Thomson says, stand for Lies Allowed.

He writes about James Stewart in Vertigo, Jack Nicholson in Chinatown, about Cary Grant ("Having fun, perched somewhere between skill and exhilaration, Grant is both the deft director of the circus and a kid in love with the show"), Greta Garbo ("She knows that she is a latent force that works in the minds of audiences she will never meet") and about stardom in general: "The star is adored but not liked: that is the consequence of a religious respect that enjoys no ordinary relations with the object of its desire."

Entering another dimension, we meet James Dean at age 50—he survived the car crash—and discover how his careerdeveloped (and how it affected Paul Newman's). We see what happened to Tony Manero (John Travolta) after Saturday Night Fever ended and how Susie Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer) moved on when The Fabulous Baker Boys was over. We are given a rollicking but instructive version of how Sony learned to live and die in Hollywood. We learn the 20 Things People Like to Forget About Hollywood ("All People in Hollywood Are Dysfunctional" is the first). And there is insight into How People Die in Movies—the empire of bang bang.

Dazzling in its range, its style and its wisdom, Beneath Mulholland immeasurably enlarges and enriches our already undying memories of, and pleasure in, the Hollywood movie.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679451150
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/07/1997
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.61(w) x 9.59(h) x 1.17(d)

About the Author

David Thomson is the author of A Biographical Dictionary of Film (three editions), Showman: The Life of David O. Selznick, Rosebud: The Story of Orson Welles and three works of fiction: Suspects, Silver Light and Warren Beatty and Desert Eyes. His writing has appeared in Film Comment, Movieline, Vanity Fair, The New Republic and Esquire, to which he contributes a monthly column on the movies. Thomson lives in San Francisco with his wife and their two sons.

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