100 books like The Movie Musical!

By Jeanine Basinger,

Here are 100 books that The Movie Musical! fans have personally recommended if you like The Movie Musical!. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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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 Indecent Exposure: A True Story of Hollywood and Wall Street

Tom Santopietro Author Of The Sound of Music Story

From my list on real Hollywood and the movie industry.

Why am I passionate about this?

Tom Santopietro is the author of eight books, including the New York Times Editor’s Choice Considering Doris Day, The Importance of Being Barbra, Sinatra in Hollywood, Why To Kill a Mockingbird Matters, and The Godfather Effect. A frequent media commentator and interviewer, he lectures on classic films and over the past thirty years has managed more than two dozen Broadway shows.

Tom's book list on real Hollywood and the movie industry

Tom Santopietro Why did Tom love 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.

By David McClintick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When the head of Columbia Pictures, David Begelman, got caught forging Cliff Robertson's name on a $10,000 check, it seemed, at first, like a simple case of embezzlement. It wasn't. The incident was the tip of the iceberg, the first hint of a scandal that shook Hollywood and rattled Wall Street. Soon powerful studio executives were engulfed in controversy; careers derailed; reputations died; and a ruthless, take-no-prisoners corporate power struggle for the world-famous Hollywood dream factory began.

First published in 1982, this now classic story of greed and lies in Tinseltown appears here with a stunning final chapter on Begelman's…


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

Tom Santopietro Author Of The Sound of Music Story

From my list on real Hollywood and the movie industry.

Why am I passionate about this?

Tom Santopietro is the author of eight books, including the New York Times Editor’s Choice Considering Doris Day, The Importance of Being Barbra, Sinatra in Hollywood, Why To Kill a Mockingbird Matters, and The Godfather Effect. A frequent media commentator and interviewer, he lectures on classic films and over the past thirty years has managed more than two dozen Broadway shows.

Tom's book list on real Hollywood and the movie industry

Tom Santopietro Why did Tom love 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.

By Scott Eyman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Lion of Hollywood' is the definitive biography of Louis B Mayer, the chief of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer - MGM - the biggest and most successful film studio of Hollywood's Golden Age.

An immigrant from tsarist Russia, Mayer began in the film business as an exhibitor but soon migrated to where the action and the power were, Hollywood. Through sheer force of energy and foresight, he turned his own modest studio into MGM, where he became the most powerful man in Hollywood, bending the film business to his will. He made legendary films, including the fabulous MGM musicals, and he made iconic stars:…


Book cover of Marlene Dietrich: The Life

Tom Santopietro Author Of The Sound of Music Story

From my list on real Hollywood and the movie industry.

Why am I passionate about this?

Tom Santopietro is the author of eight books, including the New York Times Editor’s Choice Considering Doris Day, The Importance of Being Barbra, Sinatra in Hollywood, Why To Kill a Mockingbird Matters, and The Godfather Effect. A frequent media commentator and interviewer, he lectures on classic films and over the past thirty years has managed more than two dozen Broadway shows.

Tom's book list on real Hollywood and the movie industry

Tom Santopietro Why did Tom love 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. 

By Maria Riva,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Wildly entertaining, Maria Riva reveals the rich life of her mother in vivid detail, evoking Dietrich the woman, her legendary career, and her world. Opening with Dietrich's childhood in Berlin, we meet an energetic, disciplined, and ambitious young actress, whose own mother equated the stage with a world of vagabonds and thieves.

Dietrich would quickly rise to stardom on the Berlin stage in the 1920s with her sharp wit and bisexuality-wearing the top hat and tails that revolutionized our concept of beauty and femininity. She would play vulgarity but not become in; startle the world but still maintain the aloofness…


Book cover of It Would Be So Nice If You Weren't Here: My Journey Through Show Business

John Gaspard Author Of The Ambitious Card

From my list on for writers who want to write scripts.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started making movies at age 13; to make a movie, you need a script, so I became a screenwriter by default. A dozen low-budget movies (and a couple of TV scripts) later, I started writing fiction: Two mystery series, (The Eli Marks mysteries and The Como Lake Players mysteries), four stand-alone novels, plus a couple of filmmaking “How To” books followed. Over the years, I’ve always searched out the best ideas on how to write, and how to write well. If I were to teach a course on writing, the five books I’ve listed would comprise the reading list.

John's book list on for writers who want to write scripts

John Gaspard Why did John love this book?

Rejection is a big part of the writer’s life (less so now that self-publishing has taken off, but it still rears its ugly head more times than you might expect).

Actors know all about rejection and the late Charles Grodin had more than his share. While this is technically a memoir, it’s also a handbook on how to deal with and process all the forms of rejection you might encounter on your journey. As an additional incentive to read it, please know that Charles Grodin is a terrific writer and a funny, funny man. You’ll learn while you laugh.

By Charles Grodin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked It Would Be So Nice If You Weren't Here as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here is an actor's autobiography that transcends genre. Grodin writes about his share of catastrophic setbacks with candor and liberating humor. He dispenses invaluable advice about the art of surviving in the celluloid jungle. Photos.


Book cover of Free and Easy? A Defining History of the American Film Musical Genre

Gregory Camp Author Of Scoring the Hollywood Actor in the 1950s

From my list on film music.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been interested in classic Hollywood movies for as long as I can remember, starting especially with the MGM musicals, the comedies of Abbott and Costello, and anything by Alfred Hitchcock. When I became a musicologist, I started to understand more about how the music of these films contributed to my interest in them, so it seemed like a natural research project for me to explore the music in more depth. I slowly realized that what made the films of the 1950s unique was the combination of new styles of acting with new styles of music. The films continued to suck me in and now my interest has resulted in this book.

Gregory's book list on film music

Gregory Camp Why did Gregory love this book?

There are quite a few books out there on movie musicals, many of them full of holes and poorly researched.

Griffin’s is one of the most comprehensive, focusing not just on the famous MGM musicals like Singin’ in the Rain that get the most attention these days, but also on the lesser-known musicals that were hugely popular in their time. In this book you’ll learn about largely forgotten stars like Alice Faye and Jane Powell, and see how they fit into the history of the genre.

Griffith closely examines the whole history of movie musicals from the earliest days of sound film up to the present, without the value judgments that often obscure the history.

By Sean Griffin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Free and Easy? A Defining History of the American Film Musical Genre as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A History of the American Musical narrates the evolution of the film musical genre, discussing its influences and how it has come to be defined; the first text on this subject for over two decades, it employs the very latest concepts and research.

The most up-to-date text on the subject, with uniquely comprehensive coverage and employing the very latest concepts and research Surveys centuries of music history from the music and dance of Native Americans to contemporary music performance in streaming media Examines the different ways the film musical genre has been defined, what gets counted as a musical, why,…


Book cover of A Fine Romance

Heather Hach Author Of The Trouble with Drowning

From my list on a nod to Broadway.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer, forever tap-tap-tapping away on my computer, looking to create that lyrical rhythm on the page that I feel in my heart. I’m also usually singing, whether it’s made up ditties to my dogs, 80s indie pop, or Broadway showtimes. Bottom line, I’m a storyteller, and nothing thrills me as much as a great tale well told, either on the page, on the stage, or around a table. Here are a few stories I’ve loved along the way that include a nod to Broadway, another love of mine long before I was hired to write the book for Legally Blonde the Musical.

Heather's book list on a nod to Broadway

Heather Hach Why did Heather love this book?

Full disclosure, Darcie was a producer on Legally Blonde and was president of MGM On Stage. Darcie was a real character, and she also dripped with worship for the theater.

This book is a meticulously researched love letter to the fusion of film and theater, filled with phenomenal photos and teeming with love. Chronicling West Side Story, Gypsy, Chicago, and beyond, it’s a great coffee table book you’ll actually want to read.

By Darcie Denkert,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Fans of musicals will sing when a division president of MGM and industry insider presents her entertaining, illuminating insights on exactly what happens when stage meets screen.


Book cover of Dancing on the Ceiling: Stanley Donen and His Movies

Meghan Friedlander Author Of Audrey Hepburn in Paris

From my list on Audrey Hepburn’s fashionable life.

Why am I passionate about this?

My fascination with Audrey Hepburn formed at an early age. My mother used to regale me with stories about taking trips to her local theater to watch My Fair Lady or seeing models at mall fashion shows sporting Audrey’s mod-inspired hairstyle from How to Steal a Million. Hearing these memories made Audrey feel familiar, like a distant relative and not an untouchable  Hollywood movie star. As a child, I watched her movies, and over time, I began collecting books, vintage magazines, and photographs. In 2010, I created my website, Rare Audrey Hepburn, with the intention of sharing my discoveries with fellow Audrey fans. 

Meghan's book list on Audrey Hepburn’s fashionable life

Meghan Friedlander Why did Meghan love this book?

Audrey filmed seven movies in Paris, three of which were directed by the multi-talented Stanley Donen. When they first worked on Funny Face, Audrey was twenty-seven, and Donen was thirty-two.

Their five-year age gap allowed for an ease between the two colleagues, which would manifest into a friendship spanning over 30 years. In fact, Audrey wrote a touching introduction to Dancing on the Ceiling. Silverman wonderfully chronicles Donen’s life in films during the golden age of Hollywood at a time when movie musicals were still box office hits. Best of all, the book covers all three of Audrey and Donen’s collaborations: Funny Face, Charade, and Two for the Road.  

By Stephen M Silverman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dancing on the Ceiling as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

93 photographs in text


Book cover of Steps in Time: An Autobiography

Nathan Morley Author Of Jack Hawkins: A Biography

From my list on memoirs and biographies from Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always had a passion for cinema, especially gritty British productions of the 1940s and 50s. The voices of Kathleen Harrison, Robert Beatty, Kenneth More, Dirk Bogarde, Jack Warner, and Susan Shaw can be heard nightly radiating from my TV. I’m also a huge fan of radio, in particular classic BBC shows. As a biographer, I’m known for shining a light on personalities of yesteryear – those we might recognize by name and face but know little about. My recent books include biographies on Erich Honecker (OK, he wasn’t a movie star), Jack Hawkins, and David Tomlinson (they were).

Nathan's book list on memoirs and biographies from Hollywood’s Golden Age

Nathan Morley Why did Nathan love this book?

I adored Fred Astaire so much that during a trip to Los Angeles, I made a special little pilgrimage to the RKO studios on the corner of Melrose Ave and Gower Street to see where he shot those famous 1930s movies, Top Hat, Follow the Fleet, and Flying Down to Rio.

From his debut in vaudeville as a kid to his remarkable career as the star of many of the most popular Hollywood musicals ever captured on celluloid, Fred tells his own compelling story.

By Fred Astaire,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the foremost entertainers of the twentieth century—singer, actor, choreographer, and, of course, the most dazzling "hoofer" in the history of motion pictures—Fred Astaire was the epitome of charm, grace, and suave sophistication, with a style all his own and a complete disregard for the laws of gravity. Steps in Time is Astaire's story in his own words, a memoir as beguiling, exuberant, and enthralling as the great artist himself, the man ballet legends George Balanchine and Rudolf Nureyev cited as, hands down, the century's greatest dancer.

From his debut in vaudeville at age six through his remarkable career…


Book cover of A Dance with Fred Astaire

Louis Menand Author Of The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War

From my list on memoirs from a wide array of people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started my career as a graduate student studying the Victorian period, a great age for autobiography. And although autobiography is no longer taught much in English departments, I guess I retain my passion for the genre. The greatest, of course, is Rousseau’s Confessions.

Louis' book list on memoirs from a wide array of people

Louis Menand Why did Louis love this book?

Mekas was a Lithuanian émigré who became an impresario of experimental cinema. He lived a long and eventful life, and this eccentric book is a fascinating account of it.

By Jonas Mekas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Dance with Fred Astaire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Dance with Fred Astaire is an extraordinary collection of anecdotes and rare ephemera featuring a dizzying cast of cultural icons both underground and mainstream, both obscure and celebrated. Memories and diary entries, conversations and insights into his work sit alongside collages of beautifully reproduced postcards, newspaper cuttings, film negatives, lists, posters and photographs, envelopes and letters, book covers, telegrams, cartoons and doodles. Mekas has kept and archived the artifacts of his life as a cultural touchstone down to the minutiae, all of which is brought together here in the form of a unique and fascinating scrapbook of a life…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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