The best books about the making of a movie

Who am I?

Chris Nashawaty is a writer, editor and former Entertainment Weekly movie critic whose work regularly appears in Esquire, Vanity Fair, and Sports Illustrated. He is also the author of Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story and Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candystripe Nurses--Roger Corman: King of the B-Movie. He is currently working on a book about eight sci-fi movies from the summer of 1982 that changed Hollywood. He lives in Westport, Connecticut.


I wrote...

Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story

By Chris Nashawaty,

Book cover of Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story

What is my book about?

In Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story film critic for Entertainment Weekly Chris Nashawaty goes behind the scenes of the iconic film, chronicling the rise of comedy's greatest deranged minds as they form The National Lampoon, turn the entertainment industry on its head, and ultimately blow up both a golf course and popular culture as we know it. Caddyshack is at once an eye-opening narrative about one of the most interesting, surreal, and dramatic film productions there's ever been, and a rich portrait of the biggest, and most revolutionary names in Hollywood. So, it's got that going for it...which is nice.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood

Chris Nashawaty Why did I love this book?

Even if Mark Harris wasn’t my former editor I would maintain that he is the smartest and most insightful journalist writing about movies today. And the evidence was there right out of the gate with his first book, Pictures at a Revolution, which chronicles the making of the five films nominated for the 1967 Best Picture Oscar. That story alone would be compelling, but what makes Harris’ tale truly great is how he uses these five films (Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and Dr. Doolittle) as a prism to see the bigger picture of what was happening in the culture, pinpointing the exact moment when Old Hollywood was gasping for its last breath and a vibrant, thrilling New Hollywood was being born.

By Mark Harris,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Pictures at a Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Pictures at a Revolution is probably one of the best books I've ever read in my life.” —Quentin Tarantino

The New York Times bestseller that follows the making of five films at a pivotal time in Hollywood history

In the mid-1960s, westerns, war movies, and blockbuster musicals like Mary Poppins swept the box office. The Hollywood studio system was astonishingly lucrative for the few who dominated the business. That is, until the tastes of American moviegoers radically- and unexpectedly-changed. By the Oscar ceremonies of 1968, a cultural revolution had hit Hollywood with the force of a tsunami, and films like…


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

Chris Nashawaty Why did I love this book?

When Tom Wolfe published The Bonfire of the Vanities, he managed to capture the zeitgeist of the go-go Big Money ‘80s in a way that no one else had. Of course, it didn’t take Hollywoof very long to turn his bestseller into a film…and screw it up royally. Salamon’s tremendous access to Brian De Palma’s big-budget fiasco provides an insane fly-on-the-wall immediacy, showing us how even talented people with good intentions can completely whiff. There’s schadenfreude on every page.  

By Julie Salamon,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Devil's Candy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Brian De Palma agreed to allow Julie Salamon unlimited access to the film production of Tom Wolfe's best-selling book The Bonfire of the Vanities , both director and journalist must have felt like they were on to something big. How could it lose? But instead Salamon got a front-row seat at the Hollywood disaster of the decade. She shadowed the film from its early stages through the last of the eviscerating reviews, and met everyone from the actors to the technicians to the studio executives. They'd all signed on for a blockbuster, but there was a sense of impending…


Book cover of The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood

Chris Nashawaty Why did I love this book?

Wasson has written some really great books about the movies and some I didn’t really care for. But he really nails this one about the making of Roman Polanski’s neo-noir classic, Chinatown. Weaving together the rollicking narratives of the film’s four main creative players (Polanski, producer Robert Evans, writer Robert Towne, and star Jack Nicholson), Wasson shows us how easy it would have been for any one part of this brilliantly complex jigsaw puzzle to fall in the wrong place and doom the whole endeavor. It certainly helps that the four men he focuses on are all outsize characters swinging their way through Tinseltown’s Me Decade, but Wasson also does the work, digging up great new nuggets about a movie that most film buffs think they already know everything about. That he also manages to write like a dream is just the icing on the cake.

By Sam Wasson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Big Goodbye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sight & Sound's #1 Film Book of 2020

Chinatown is the Holy Grail of 1970s cinema. Its ending is the most notorious in American film and its closing line of dialogue the most haunting. Here for the first time is the incredible true story of its making. In Sam Wasson's telling, it becomes the defining story of its most colorful characters. Here is Jack Nicholson at the height of his powers, embarking on his great, doomed love affair with Anjelica Huston. Here is director Roman Polanski, both predator and prey, haunted by the savage murder of his wife, returning to…


Book cover of Orson Welles's Last Movie: The Making of The Other Side of the Wind

Chris Nashawaty Why did I love this book?

I’ve been a fan of Josh Karp’s for years. So much so, that at this point I just blindly trust his taste. If he thinks something is worth writing about, I tend to end up agreeing. In Orson Welles’ Last Movie, he puts on his private-eye hat and starts digging into the legendary Citizen Kane director’s unfinished final film, The Other Side of the Wind (it was completed after Karp’s book was published and aired on Netflix). Yes, the story is about an auteur’s quest to realize his vision against crushing odds, but it’s also about something much larger—a promising young genius who tragically flamed out too soon and battled with every last breath and cent to do what he was born to do. Parts of it almost read like a Shakespearian tragedy.

By Josh Karp,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Orson Welles's Last Movie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Come Along...with Orson Welles as he returns to Hollywood in Summer 1970, to make an innovative comeback movie, The Other Side of the Wind, about a legendary director who wants to make an innovative comeback movie. Watch...Welles attempt to create a Citizen Kane-like masterpiece that will restore his career. See...Welles at his most Wellesian: clever, crazed; masterful, maniacal; kind, cruel; enlightened, enraged; in command and out of control. Costarring John Huston...the hard-drinking, cigar-smoking adventurer and filmmaker who portrays Jake Hannaford, the hard-drinking, cigar-smoking adventurer and filmmaker at the center of the film. Running Time: A two-hour movie...about a single day...that…


Book cover of The Jaws Log

Chris Nashawaty Why did I love this book?

Gottlieb was the credited writer of Steven Spielberg’s 1975 Great White blockbuster. And in this slim volume published shortly after the film’s massive success, he tells the (mostly) unvarnished story about how this little movie about a vacation town terrorized by a man-eating shark spiraled completely out of control (in terms of its budget and shooting schedule) and how it was saved by a series of happy accidents, creative flukes, and of course, youthful hubris and genius. Jaws has always been my favorite film since I first saw it at age 6 (my parents were sadists, apparently). And if you love the movie—and really, who doesn’t?—then The Jaws Log is a must read. 

By Carl Gottlieb,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Jaws Log as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of 3 Oscars [registered] and the highest grossing film of its time, "Jaws" was a phenomenon, and this is the only book on how 26-year-old Steven Spielberg transformed Peter Benchley's best-selling novel into the classic film it became. Hired by Spielberg as a screenwriter to work with him on the set while the movie was being made, Carl Gottlieb, and actor and writer, was there throughout the production that starred Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss. After filming was over, with Spielberg's cooperation, Gottlieb chronicled the extraordinary year-long adventure in "The Jaws Log", which was first published in…


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Currently Away: How Two Disenchanted People Traveled the Great Loop for Nine Months and Returned to the Start, Energized and Optimistic

By Bruce Tate,

Book cover of Currently Away: How Two Disenchanted People Traveled the Great Loop for Nine Months and Returned to the Start, Energized and Optimistic

Bruce Tate

New book alert!

What is my book about?

The plan was insane. The trap seemed to snap shut on Bruce and Maggie Tate, an isolation forced on them by the pandemic and America's growing political factionalism. Something had to change.

Maggie's surprising answer: buy a boat, learn to pilot it, and embark on the Great Loop. With no experience, and knowing little about seafaring, diesel motors, or navigation, Maggie, Bruce, and the family dog decided to take on the six-thousand-mile journey down inland rivers, around the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, and across the Great Lakes. They would have to navigate canals, rivers, seas, and locks. But along the way, they made new lifelong friends and were forever changed.

For nine months, Bruce and Maggie navigated shallow rivers, bottomless lakes, joy, and loss. Against all odds, they conquered the Great Loop, and along the way, found common cause across political divides with new friends while blowing the walls off their world.

Currently Away: How Two Disenchanted People Traveled the Great Loop for Nine Months and Returned to the Start, Energized and Optimistic

By Bruce Tate,


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