Hollywood: The Oral History

Harper. Nov. 2022. 800p. ISBN 9780063056947. $45. FILM
Film writers Basinger (The Star Machine) and Wasson (The Big Goodbye) synthesize (for general readers and cinema cognoscenti) their sleuthing of primary sources—nearly 3,000 transcripts of interviews with hundreds of movie people found in the American Film Institute’s archives. Ranging from the silent film era (an ongoing recollection project began in 1969 as the Harold Lloyd Master Seminar series) through the present, this compilation includes actors, directors, and producers as well as essential, often overlooked support personnel—agents, editors, writers, makeup and wardrobe artists, musicians, and publicists—forming a more perfect picture of the entertainment enterprise. While underscoring too frequent stereotypical gender expectations (fewer, surprisingly, during the early days), there is little mention of actual sexual harassment. This edited, conversational retrospective contains much on changes in the industry as experienced by those in it, such as the transition to sound, the waning of censorship after the Production Code and McCarthyism, the use of digital technology, and the challenge of immediate reviews through the blogosphere.
VERDICT Recommended for the large audience of popular culture enthusiasts for whom knowledge of the Hollywood past will enable them better to appreciate occurring and anticipated industry changes.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing