Hollywood's Greatest Backlot
& others. MGM: Hollywood's Greatest Backlot. Santa Monica. 2011. c.312p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781595800558. $34.95. FILM
OrangeReviewStarFor all aficionados of Hollywood's golden age, when MGM was at the apex of U.S. film production, with stars like Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, and Judy Garland (to name just the Gs), this book is rewarding because it isn't just another celebration of MGM's luster. But it's also a tearjerker. What was the most glorious back lot in film history is gone. The book's final section, "Backlot Babylon," narrates the studio's postwar decline and its 1969 purchase by Kirk Kerkorian, whose top executive declared "The old MGM is gone," and then bulldozed and sold off the back lots. Authors Bingen (Warner Brothers: The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of); Stephen X. Sylvester, who explored the MGM back lots before they were demolished and captured oral histories of many studio employees; and Michael Troyan (A Rose for Mrs. Miniver: The Life of Greer Garson), a film archives specialist, reveal the entire MGM infrastructure, including fascinating documentation (with hundreds of photographs) of the use and reuse of film sets across many years and genres. The oral histories of studio employees are treasures amid many in this revelation of all the workings behind that gloss. An appendix of "Films Shot on the Backlot" is invaluable.
VERDICT Highly recommended to buffs and specialists alike; for all comprehensive film collections.
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