The Best Books On Hollywood

Tom Santopietro Author Of The Sound of Music Story
By Tom Santopietro

The Books I Picked & Why

The Movie Musical!

By Jeanine Basinger

The Movie Musical!

Why this book?

Film historian and professor Jeanine Basinger covers the entire history of the movie musical with scholarship, laugh-out loud asides, and a love of film that shines through on every page. No one knows more about film than Basinger but she wears her knowledge lightly, inviting the reader to join in the fun.


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Indecent Exposure: A True Story of Hollywood and Wall Street

By David McClintick

Indecent Exposure: A True Story of Hollywood and Wall Street

Why this book?

McClintick makes the Hollywood boardroom scandal that began with David Begelman’s forgery of Cliff Robertson’s name on a $10,000 check, into a compulsively readable account of power run amok amongst  Hollywood-Wall Street executives. An expose of theft, cover-up, and blackmail, it is also a beautifully written, incisive portrait of men and women seduced by the glamor and power of Hollywood fame.


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Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer

By Scott Eyman

Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer

Why this book?

Film Historian Eyman eschews the tired caricature of Mayer as a cigar-chomping Hollywood mogul, instead delving into his immigrant roots and love of America, all of it informing Mayer’s tyrannical approach to running MGM, an approach that, unlike today’s dealmakers, was always leavened by a genuine love of movies. In the process, Eyman delivers a sweeping history of Hollywood’s outsized impact upon 20th century American life, filtered through the life story of a studio head who greenlit Ninotchka, The Wizard of Oz, Meet Me in St. Louis, and An American in Paris.


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The Devil's Candy: The Anatomy of a Hollywood Fiasco

By Julie Salamon

The Devil's Candy: The Anatomy of a Hollywood Fiasco

Why this book?

Granted unlimited access to the film production of Tom Wolfe’s best-selling The Bonfire of the Vanities, Salamon serves up a fascinating portrait of one of Hollywood’s most notorious flops. Miscast (Tom Hanks as an arrogant Wall Street heel?) and tone-deaf, the resulting film ran roughshod over Wolfe’s satire and Salamon was there to record every juicy and head-scratching nugget explaining just how the disaster unfolded. Detailing the head-on collision between ego, money, and power in smooth, vivid prose, Salamon will keep any reader interested in Hollywood turning pages long into the night.


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Marlene Dietrich: The Life

By Maria Riva

Marlene Dietrich: The Life

Why this book?

When a Hollywood legend’s child writes a biography of his or her parent, the result usually ends up as either a hatchet job (Mommie Dearest) or candy-coated alternative history. But here, Marlene Dietrich’s daughter Maria Riva delivers a loving but warts and all portrait of her complicated, fascinating mother. Dietrich’s career combined sex, allure, and world-weary refinement to revolutionize our very concept of femininity, in the process fascinating audiences around the world. The only biography of Dietrich to draw upon the star’s own letters and diaries, Riva delivers the ultimate insider’s portrait of both the warmth and suffocating shadow cast by a legend upon her own child. 


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