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Hollywood East: Louis B. Mayer and the Origins of the Studio System

Hollywood East: Louis B. Mayer and the Origins of the Studio System

by Diana Altman

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Altman (whose father was a former MGM East Coast talent scout) outlines the early careers of such film-industry founders as Adolph Zukor, Albert Warner, William Fox, Marcus Loew and others, making the point that the industry's true headquarters during its first five decades was not Hollywood but New York City. Her narrative spotlight is aimed mainly at Louis B. Mayer, the very emblem of the Hollywood movie mogul who, it turns out, was answerable to bosses at 1540 Broadway (``across the street from the Camel Cigarette sign blowing smoke''). Altman describes the cutthroat competition among industry pioneers, attempts by organized crime to muscle in--Mayer was one of the few movie moguls to fight back--and the changes wrought by WW II and the postwar advent of drive-in theaters and television. Finally, she relates the story of Mayer's dismissal in 1957 by the powers at corporate headquarters in Times Square and his brave comeback attempt, which failed when MGM stockholders voted against him. This is an entertaining though superficial chronicle, remarkable only for its admiring treatment of Mayer. As Altman remarks in the introduction, ``Louis B. Mayer-bashing is a current fad.'' Photos. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Film historian Altman pledges to defend the reputation of early mogul Mayer, attacked most notably in Bosley Crowther's Hollywood Rajah ( LJ 2/1/60). Since no one really cares, it is fortunate that she writes from a bird's-eye view of the rise of American motion pictures with Mayer just one of the various personalities who had a part. Twentieth-century world history, cinema history, biography, news clippings, and anecdotes come together in a blunt style that somehow works beautifully and cleanly. This is sophisticated storytelling and admirable history that reads like historical fiction. It even includes a poem by Rudolph Valentino. The problem of subjectivity is overcome by the book's structure. Recommended for popular collections.-- Brian Geary, West Seneca, N.Y.
The author, a film historian, is also the daughter of the late Al Altman, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's New York talent scout. While most histories of the industry concentrate on Hollywood, Altman's tells what was happening in New York, where much of both the business and the creative activity occurred. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

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Carol Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.25(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.31(d)

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