82 books like The Big Goodbye

By Sam Wasson,

Here are 82 books that The Big Goodbye fans have personally recommended if you like The Big Goodbye. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

Jon Lewis Author Of Road Trip to Nowhere: Hollywood Encounters the Counterculture

From my list on 1960s Hollywood.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been teaching and writing about post-WWII American film for over thirty years now, with a particular passion for (behind the scenes) Hollywood history. Road Trip to Nowhere follows up on a new sort of movie industry history I introduced in my 2017 book on 1950s Los Angeles, Hard-Boiled Hollywood. Both books focus on actors, writers, producers, and directors who don’t quite make it—aspirants and would-be players kicked to the side of the road, so to speak, and others who for reasons we may or may not understand just walked away from the modern American dream life of stardom and celebrity. 

Jon's book list on 1960s Hollywood

Jon Lewis Why did Jon love this book?

Harris focuses on Oscar night 1968 as four of the five films nominated for Best Picture evinced Hollywood’s reluctant affirmation of the American counterculture. These “pictures at a revolution,” as he terms them—Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and the Oscar winner In the Heat of the Nightsignaled a necessary industry re-think, away from bloated old-Hollywood blockbusters (like Dr. Dolittle, the fifth nominee) and towards something more politically savvy and more hip. Harris does well to chronicle the backstage/behind-the-scenes histories of all five of these films.

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

Ben Fritz Author Of The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies

From my list on behind the scenes in Hollywood.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent most of my 20-year career as a professional journalist covering the entertainment industry, and I find it endlessly fascinating. As is probably true for you if you’re reading this, I love movies and TV shows. As a curious person, I always want to know why. Why did this movie get made at this time with these people? If you want to know the answer, you’ve got to understand the business. Hollywood is such an interesting business, full of big personalities trying to manage corporate pressure and creative egos and to balance their need to make a profit with their desire to make great art.

Ben's book list on behind the scenes in Hollywood

Ben Fritz Why did Ben love this book?

The perfect companion to Final Cut from a radically different perspective. Salamon is a journalist who was given extraordinary access by director Brian De Palma during the making of The Bonfire of the Vanities, which, like Heaven’s Gate, turned out to be an infamous flop.

Salamon was on set constantly and shows just how difficult it was for De Palma to manage a massive production and try to keep his vision intact; the difficulty of managing stars like Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, and Melanie Griffith; and the pressure studios put on filmmakers as budgets escalate and the desperation to release a hit skyrockets.

By Julie Salamon,

Why should I read it?

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

Chris Nashawaty Author Of Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story

From my list on the making of a movie.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Chris' book list on the making of a movie

Chris Nashawaty Why did Chris 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

Carleton Eastlake Author Of Monkey Business

From my list on what Hollywood is really like.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having been a Hollywood writer for thirty years, and now written a novel that although satirical still accurately describes the creation of a TV series, I’ve long been amazed at how many Hollywood stories – including films made in Hollywood – offer fantasies that have even less to do with the reality of love and work in film and television than Game of Thrones does with the real Middle Ages. I’ve written fantasy myself, but for people fascinated by Hollywood, or who want to work in film and TV, there’s a reason too to read books that capture the reality, especially when like the books listed here, they do so astonishingly well.

Carleton's book list on what Hollywood is really like

Carleton Eastlake Why did Carleton love this book?

In my book club I’m known as Second Carl, since Carl Gottlieb has been a member far longer than I. In fact, I was still a lawyer in Washington, D.C. secretly dreaming about Hollywood but never suspecting I’d someday myself work on a Spielberg TV series, when I read this short, fast, now revered account of the filming of Spielberg’s breakout film. It proved to be a deeply accurate and comprehensive description – and warning – about what life and work on location and in Hollywood itself would be like. It’s also so engagingly readable and relevant, a Broadway musical based on the book is in tryouts as I write these words.

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…


Book cover of The Moon's a Balloon

Reid Mitenbuler Author Of Wild Minds: The Artists and Rivalries That Inspired the Golden Age of Animation

From my list on Hollywood history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Not only am I fascinated by old Hollywood history, I’m also interested in the creative processes that produce great art. Everyone approaches their craft a little differently, and it’s always illuminating to discover how different people do what they do. In my own work, I like to explore how creative people come to their Eureka! moments, and hope that I’ll be able to learn something from their experiences.

Reid's book list on Hollywood history

Reid Mitenbuler Why did Reid love this book?

This book opens with an absolutely breathtaking passage, one of my favorite openings in any book ever. One imagines Niven narrating his memoir poolside, gripping a cigarette and a martini in the same fist, his pince-nez mustache dancing up and down while he describes, in sordid detail, old-school Hollywood at its most louche. If you want a book that brings alive the atmosphere of a bygone era, this is it.

By David Niven,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Moon's a Balloon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

David Niven is remembered as one of Britain's best-loved actors. The archetypal English gentleman, he starred in over ninety films. He is equally remembered as the author of this classic autobiography. In his first volume, he remembers his childhood and school days, his time at Sandhurst and his early army service. He recalls America during the prohibition era and days in Hollywood before the Second World War. Of the war itself, he tells of family life back in Britain and his time on the front line in France and Germany. THE MOON'S A BALLOON is a wonderful record of a…


Book cover of An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood

Elyce Helford Author Of What Price Hollywood?: Gender and Sex in the Films of George Cukor

From my list on classic Hollywood from a scholar and fan of film.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a film fan and scholar who has a joyful yet complex relationship with Hollywood. I have basked in the classics of Hollywood’s Golden Age (1930s-1950s) from my teen years on, including the musical delights of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the screwball comedies of Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant, the magnificent Universal monsters, and the deliciously dark creativity of film noir. Reading about the history of Hollywood has helped me enjoy this pastime even more, learning everything from economics and politics to method and form. The more I know, the richer grows my interest in both the past and present of that unique institution we call Hollywood.

Elyce's book list on classic Hollywood from a scholar and fan of film

Elyce Helford Why did Elyce love this book?

Gabler offers a detailed and persuasive history of Hollywood’s first producers, all immigrant Jewish Americans seeking to achieve the American dream.

This handful of men started in New York as peddlers or small business owners and then moved west to build their own film empires. No one saw motion pictures as more than a superficial pastime, but it seemed a good business opportunity. Unfortunately, Thomas Edison owned the rights and patents that kept Jewish entrepreneurs from accessing New York, so the immigrants went west.

MGM, Warner Brothers, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, and Universal: these were their kingdoms and are still the names we know today as the major Hollywood studios. Meet the remarkable (and sometimes horrible) men who built this world and learn about their lives and ambitions in Gabler’s engaging book.

By Neal Gabler,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked An Empire of Their Own as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A provocative, original, and richly entertaining group biography of the Jewish immigrants who were the moving forces behind the creation of America's motion picture industry.
 
The names Harry Cohn, William Fox, Carl Laemmle, Louis B. Mayer, Jack and Harry Warner, and Adolph Zucker are giants in the history of contemporary Hollywood, outsiders who dared to invent their own vision of the American Dream.  Even to this day, the American values defined largely by the movies of these émigrés endure in American cinema and culture. Who these men were, how they came to dominate Hollywood, and what they gained and lost…


Book cover of We'll Always Have Casablanca: The Legend and Afterlife of Hollywood's Most Beloved Film

Bob Whalen Author Of Casablanca's Conscience

From my list on books about the best movies (for movie fans).

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian, with a special interest in the 20th century. I’ve written about Freud’s Vienna, the aftermath of the First World War, strikes in the 1920s and 1930s in America’s cotton South, the plot to assassinate Hitler, and the notorious 1940s gangsters nicknamed “Murder, Inc.”. What intrigues me about the 20th century are the era’s underlying values and the shocking and violent collisions among them. In Casablanca’s Conscience, I use the great film as a lens with which to take another look at the tumultuous times just a generation ago.

Bob's book list on books about the best movies (for movie fans)

Bob Whalen Why did Bob love this book?

Isenberg has explored all the Hollywood archives and has produced a delightful and fascinating story of the actors, the director and producer, the writers, and all the technicians who created the film. A splendid guide to Casablanca and a great example of an in-depth, how-it-was-made history of a single film. 

By Noah Isenberg,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked We'll Always Have Casablanca as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Casablanca is "not one movie," Umberto Eco once quipped; "it is 'movies.'" Film historian Noah Isenberg's We'll Always Have Casablanca offers a rich account of the film's origins, the myths and realities behind its production, and the reasons it remains so revered today, over seventy-five years after its premiere.


Book cover of Pygmalion and My Fair Lady

Elyce Helford Author Of What Price Hollywood?: Gender and Sex in the Films of George Cukor

From my list on classic Hollywood from a scholar and fan of film.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a film fan and scholar who has a joyful yet complex relationship with Hollywood. I have basked in the classics of Hollywood’s Golden Age (1930s-1950s) from my teen years on, including the musical delights of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the screwball comedies of Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant, the magnificent Universal monsters, and the deliciously dark creativity of film noir. Reading about the history of Hollywood has helped me enjoy this pastime even more, learning everything from economics and politics to method and form. The more I know, the richer grows my interest in both the past and present of that unique institution we call Hollywood.

Elyce's book list on classic Hollywood from a scholar and fan of film

Elyce Helford Why did Elyce love this book?

I once played Henry Higgins' mother in a local theatrical production of My Fair Lady. I delighted in the music and in portraying (in a white wig and wrinkled make-up) the stern, wise Mrs. Higgins, even as I also wondered whether Higgins and Pickering were perhaps secretly a couple and if Eliza was asexual.

This made me want to read the play on which My Fair Lady is based, George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. I did not get answers to my somewhat whimsical questions about sexuality, but I did see in even greater relief the turning of women into objects that ambitious, selfish men may do.

By George Bernard Shaw, Alan Jay Lerner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pygmalion and My Fair Lady as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This Greek legend is presented in two different formats--the original by Shaw and the musical play by Lerner.


Book cover of Me: Stories of My Life

Elyce Helford Author Of What Price Hollywood?: Gender and Sex in the Films of George Cukor

From my list on classic Hollywood from a scholar and fan of film.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a film fan and scholar who has a joyful yet complex relationship with Hollywood. I have basked in the classics of Hollywood’s Golden Age (1930s-1950s) from my teen years on, including the musical delights of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the screwball comedies of Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant, the magnificent Universal monsters, and the deliciously dark creativity of film noir. Reading about the history of Hollywood has helped me enjoy this pastime even more, learning everything from economics and politics to method and form. The more I know, the richer grows my interest in both the past and present of that unique institution we call Hollywood.

Elyce's book list on classic Hollywood from a scholar and fan of film

Elyce Helford Why did Elyce love this book?

Katharine Hepburn, who worked with George Cukor in a whopping ten films, was known for her strength. She was a strong actor with strong opinions and a strong presence. She went through phases from atypical ingénue to box office poison to megastar.

Learning about her life through Hepburn’s own perspectives in her own words is riveting. She is prickly and poignant, biting and benevolent.

By Katharine Hepburn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Photographs from Hepburn's personal collection highlight the candid memoirs of the life, long career, friendships, and loves of the legendary Hollywood actress


Book cover of Television Development: How Hollywood Creates New TV Series

Emmanuel Oberg Author Of Writing a Successful TV Series: How to Pitch and Develop Projects for Television and Online Streaming

From my list on developing TV series (and the art of running a TV show).

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professional screenwriter with a passion for story structure. I’ve worked on film & TV projects for more than 25 years – not only as a writer for independent producers and studios such as Warner and Universal – but also as a development exec and creative consultant. Over time, I was shocked to see how many talented storytellers felt stuck between prescriptive paradigms and a “seat-of-the-pants” approach. So I set out to fill that void and defined a more flexible yet powerful method in my first book, Screenwriting Unchained, which I’ve now enthusiastically applied to TV series. I hope you enjoy the books on this list as much as I have!

Emmanuel's book list on developing TV series (and the art of running a TV show)

Emmanuel Oberg Why did Emmanuel love this book?

Navigating the TV industry can be intimidating. Bob Levy does an amazing job of providing an overview of the U.S. TV development process, from a producer’s point of view.

He gives a very clear and detailed explanation of the industry, the processes, and the culture. I love how he explains the terminology, the timelines, the people involved, yet never makes it boring. Levy has worked in the TV industry for more than 30 years, and it shows.

By Bob Levy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Television Development as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Development is a large and central part of the American TV industry, and yet the details of how it works - who makes development decisions and why, where ideas for new shows come from, even basics like the differences between what TV studios and TV networks do - remain elusive to many.

In this book, lecturer and acclaimed television producer Bob Levy offers a detailed introduction to television development, the process by which the Hollywood TV industry creates new scripted series. Written both for students and industry professionals, Television Development serves as a comprehensive introduction to all facets of the…


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