Hollywood Horrors: Murders, Scandals, and Cover-Ups from Tinseltown

Lyons. Nov. 2021. 312p. ISBN 9781493060078. pap. $19.95. CRIME
Los Angeles native Van Landingham takes a walk on the sordid side in this entertaining debut about crimes and scandals that coincided with the rise of Hollywood (as an industry and cultural powerhouse) from the silent-film era through the 1960s. An accessible, impassioned writer, Van Landingham thoughtfully covers stories that juxtapose the glamor and the grit of the fledgling film industry, including Errol Flynn’s trial for statutory rape and the death of Johnny Stompanato (who was killed by Cheryl Crane as she defended her mother, Lana Turner, from a beating at his hands). Van Landingham also incorporates histories of the Hays Production Code and the notorious nightclubs on the Sunset Strip, providing fascinating context for the industry and offering up a vivid portrayal of the Los Angeles landscape. The stories are concise and gripping, and a selected bibliography will please readers eager to learn more.
VERDICT A compelling trip through the dark side of early Hollywood that will appeal to true crime fans, film history buffs, and those who enjoyed Shawn Levy’s The Castle on Sunset.
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