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The Whole Equation: A History of Hollywood…

The Whole Equation: A History of Hollywood

by David Thomson

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Hollywood, a cluster of metal sheds in the shabbier suburbs of Los Angeles, itself a suburb of nowhere, has created what is virtually the first religion devoted solely to entertaining its congregation.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375400168, Hardcover)

Reading David Thomson's new book, The Whole Equation: A History of Hollywood is like listening to a favorite older uncle reminisce about his Hollywood career; it's full of interesting stories of yesteryear, lots of valuable insights, and probably good for you--even if some sections go faster than others. Thomson is an accomplished critic who has written for The New York Times and Salon (among others), and is also the author of several books on the subject of show biz, including The New Biographical Dictionary of Film. In The Whole Equation (a reference to F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel about Hollywood, The Last Tycoon), he attempts to cover "the history of American movies," and "the history of America in the time of movies." To do so, he brings in finance, film theory, and just plain gossip. (For those who haven't heard how Jean Harlow died, prepare to watch the facade of glamour crumble as never before.)

It's an ambitious project to say the least, and the movie business is probably too complex a subject to sum up in 350-plus pages. Often a reader can start a chapter, purportedly on one topic, and find themselves completely off the grid--or at least buried under a lot of words--a few pages later. Like that favorite uncle, Thomson isn't necessarily quick to make his point, nor afraid of straying from his main subject. Nevertheless, many parts of the book are enjoyable and valuable--particularly for those who really want to learn about the history of American filmmaking, and wouldn't mind finding out what Brando got paid for Last Tango in Paris in the process. --Leah Weathersby

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:36 -0400)

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"The Whole Equation, in David Thomson's own words, embraces "the murder and the majesty, the business statistics and millions of us being moved, the art and the awfulness." It accommodates "the artistic careers, the lives of the pirates, the ebb and flow of business, the sociological impact - in short, the wonder in the dark, the calculation in the offices, and the staggering impact on America of moving pictures. Which is also the thunderous artillery of America unleashed on the world."" "He examines the films of Capra, Wilder, Hitchcock, Spielberg; of Gable, Cagney, Monroe, Crawford, Brando, Bogart, Nicholson, Kidman; of Irving Thalberg, Lew Wasserman, Harvey Weinstein - and scores more. He considers noir films, the blacklist, agents, method acting. He tells us the stories behind The Godfather, Chinatown, and Jaws. And he follows the money - a trip essential to understanding Hollywood at its most thrilling and most disappointing."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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