100 books like Those Crazy Wonderful Years When We Ran Warner Brothers

By Stuart Jerome,

Here are 100 books that Those Crazy Wonderful Years When We Ran Warner Brothers fans have personally recommended if you like Those Crazy Wonderful Years When We Ran Warner Brothers. 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 My Wicked, Wicked Ways: The Autobiography of Errol Flynn

Robert Matzen Author Of Season of the Gods

From my list on old Hollywood in general (and Warner Brothers in particular).

Why am I passionate about this?

My dad instilled in me a love of, and respect for, history and an avid interest in golden-era Hollywood. In my adult life as a professional writer, that paternal guidance has translated into eight books about various aspects of old Hollywood, with a growing focus on the intersection of Hollywood and World War II. My career to date was punctuated by the international success of Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II, which detailed the future star’s very hard life in the Netherlands under Nazi occupation. Dad didn’t live long enough to know I’d written anything, let alone a number of books he would have enjoyed reading. 

Robert's book list on old Hollywood in general (and Warner Brothers in particular)

Robert Matzen Why did Robert love this book?

For those who don’t know, Errol Flynn was the “bad boy” of Hollywood’s golden era in addition to serving as the king of adventure pictures from 1935, when he appeared as Captain Blood, to 1953, when he made The Master of Ballantrae. In between, he starred in 40 other films, wrote two books, married three times, survived a spurious rape charge and trial, and debauched himself with booze and drugs.

Just a year before his death at age 50, Flynn sat down with a ghostwriter to create a memoir both candid and poignant. This book has gone on to sell millions of copies since its release in 1959 and remains in print today—a testament to the power of Flynn’s personal history and narrative.

By Errol Flynn,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of Round Up the Usual Suspects: The Making of Casablanca: Bogart, Bergman, and World War II

Robert Matzen Author Of Season of the Gods

From my list on old Hollywood in general (and Warner Brothers in particular).

Why am I passionate about this?

My dad instilled in me a love of, and respect for, history and an avid interest in golden-era Hollywood. In my adult life as a professional writer, that paternal guidance has translated into eight books about various aspects of old Hollywood, with a growing focus on the intersection of Hollywood and World War II. My career to date was punctuated by the international success of Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II, which detailed the future star’s very hard life in the Netherlands under Nazi occupation. Dad didn’t live long enough to know I’d written anything, let alone a number of books he would have enjoyed reading. 

Robert's book list on old Hollywood in general (and Warner Brothers in particular)

Robert Matzen Why did Robert love this book?

When a New York Times correspondent and Yale Fellow sits down to write a book about the making of Casablanca for its 50th anniversary, one expects quality, and Harmetz delivers by detailing the times and people who created and marketed the timeless classic.

This book served as a primary source during the writing of my book. The extensively researched and footnoted book was repackaged in 2002 as The Making of Casablanca: Bogart, Bergman, and World War II and remains in print more than 30 years after its initial release.

Book cover of Starstruck: My Unlikely Road to Hollywood

Robert Matzen Author Of Season of the Gods

From my list on old Hollywood in general (and Warner Brothers in particular).

Why am I passionate about this?

My dad instilled in me a love of, and respect for, history and an avid interest in golden-era Hollywood. In my adult life as a professional writer, that paternal guidance has translated into eight books about various aspects of old Hollywood, with a growing focus on the intersection of Hollywood and World War II. My career to date was punctuated by the international success of Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II, which detailed the future star’s very hard life in the Netherlands under Nazi occupation. Dad didn’t live long enough to know I’d written anything, let alone a number of books he would have enjoyed reading. 

Robert's book list on old Hollywood in general (and Warner Brothers in particular)

Robert Matzen Why did Robert love this book?

Leonard Maltin shot to prominence as a youth publishing the annual Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, with each new edition becoming an instant New York Times bestseller. Maltin also served a long stint as an on-air correspondent for Entertainment Tonight, where he earned backstage access to generations of movie stars.

His recently published memoir details his early obsession with the movies and then his slow but steady rise as one of Hollywood’s leading historians. I love this book most for its insights into the old stars that Maltin met—stars who knew him from his books and TV work and opened up about their own histories, making this book a valuable resource for film scholars.

By Leonard Maltin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hollywood historian and film reviewer Leonard Maltin invites readers to pull up a chair and listen as he tells stories, many of them hilarious, of 50+ years interacting with legendary movie stars, writers, directors, producers, and cartoonists. Maltin grew up in the first decade of television, immersing himself in TV programs and accessing 1930s and ‘40s movies hitting the small screen. His fan letters to admired performers led to unexpected correspondences, then to interviews and publication of his own fan magazine. Maltin’s career as a free-lance writer and New York Times-bestselling author as well as his 30-year run on Entertainment…


Book cover of Forbidden Hollywood: The Pre-Code Era (1930-1934): When Sin Ruled the Movies

Robert Matzen Author Of Season of the Gods

From my list on old Hollywood in general (and Warner Brothers in particular).

Why am I passionate about this?

My dad instilled in me a love of, and respect for, history and an avid interest in golden-era Hollywood. In my adult life as a professional writer, that paternal guidance has translated into eight books about various aspects of old Hollywood, with a growing focus on the intersection of Hollywood and World War II. My career to date was punctuated by the international success of Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II, which detailed the future star’s very hard life in the Netherlands under Nazi occupation. Dad didn’t live long enough to know I’d written anything, let alone a number of books he would have enjoyed reading. 

Robert's book list on old Hollywood in general (and Warner Brothers in particular)

Robert Matzen Why did Robert love this book?

The year before Errol Flynn blew into Hollywood, the “pre-Code” era ended. What was the “pre-Code” era? It was the period in the early 1930s when Hollywood rode the cliff, making movies about sensational topics like adultery, pay-for-play, drug use, and more. Many of the pictures included a scene or two with leading ladies scantily clad and even braless. Leading men were often scoundrels.

This book entertainingly details both the point of view of studios struggling to remain relevant in the depths of the Great Depression by creating salacious products and the outcry from alarmed parents who took their kids to the movies only to cover their eyes and rush them back out again.

The author backs up his narrative with eye-popping photos illustrating just what was so shocking about the pre-Code era. This interesting period of Hollywood history ended abruptly and, unfortunately, with the puritanical “Production Code” that ushered…

By Mark Vieira,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of White Hunter, Black Heart

Stephen Rebello Author Of Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho

From my list on featuring Hollywood giants as characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

A Southern California-based writer, screenwriter, and journalist whose adventures in and around the film business have led to hundreds of feature stories and film reviews for such magazines as Vibe, Playboy, American Film, Smithsonian, and Movieline. His books include three dedicated to Disney animated classics and a volume on the art of American movie posters. His lovingly satirical book Bad Movies We Love, co-written with Edward Margulies, inspired a Turner Network movie marathon series, his Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho was filmed in 2012. His next non-fiction book will be published in 2024.   

Stephen's book list on featuring Hollywood giants as characters

Stephen Rebello Why did Stephen love this book?

Novelist Peter Viertel, an uncredited screenplay contributor to three John Huston-directed movies, wrote one of the great Hollywood-adjacent novels in this 1953 classic backgrounded by the preproduction of a fictionalized film. Hint: it’s transparently Huston’s The African Queen and the "John Wilson" character is clearly John Huston himself. The book dramatizes the hell screenwriter Peter Verill (Viertel, of course) endures when the bigger-than-life director becomes more obsessed with hunting and killing a majestic elephant than in shooting the film he’s been sent to make. 

Funny, marvelously readable, it's also rich with wry and knowing portraits of characters based upon Katharine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, and producer Sam Spiegel, the latter of whom says of Wilson/Huston: “In a well-ordered society, he’d be in a straitjacket now.” Clint Eastwood directed and starred in a 1990 movie version. Skip that, watch The African Queen, then read this instead.

By Peter Viertel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked White Hunter, Black Heart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It was a stellar cast gathered to make an epic masterpiece...a movie that could be made only by a mad genius. And John Wilson was a cinematic genius sent dangerously out of control by the madness of Africa itself. The human cost would be awesome, reflecting the tragic legacy for Africa of the white man's ignorance, arrogance...and passion.

Modeled on John Huston, and the making of The African Queen.

"Its incidental pictures of African scenery and colonial society, both British and Belgian, are vividly those of a first-rate observer and reporter. So, too, is the London background of hotels and…


Book cover of West of Sunset

Laini Giles Author Of The Forgotten Flapper

From my list on capturing the magic of old Hollywood.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an old movie fan and a novelist who has been writing historical fiction about show business since 2010. As a stickler for detail, I use oodles of old Hollywood biographies and other research sources to learn everything I can about my subjects and weave as accurate a tale as I can. My Forgotten Actresses series is up to four books, with plenty more under construction. 

Laini's book list on capturing the magic of old Hollywood

Laini Giles Why did Laini love this book?

I love all aspects of Los Angeles from approximately 1911 to around 1950. This doesn’t just include the actors, directors, and studios but also those working behind the scenes who made the movies come to life. This book involves the writers who composed the scenarios (the early name for screenplays) that ended up becoming the films made by the studios. 

F. Scott Fitzgerald was most famous for his novels in the 1920s, but his personal problems (a wife committed to an expensive mental hospital and a daughter to raise) caused him to have to look for work as a writer for MGM, but he was not successful due to his drinking. 

O’Nan delves masterfully into Fitzgerald’s complicated relationship with gossip columnist Sheilah Graham and his alcoholism, and it addresses his multiple terrifying heart attacks.

This book truly belongs among the top picks for Hollywood literature. 

By Stewart O'Nan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1937, F. Scott Fitzgerald was a troubled, uncertain man whose literary success was long behind him. In poor health, with his wife consigned to a mental asylum and his finances in ruin, he struggled to make a new start as a screenwriter in Hollywood.

The last three years of Fitzgerald's life, often obscured by the legend of his earlier Jazz Age glamour, are the focus of Stewart O'Nan's heartfelt new novel. With flashbacks to key moments from Fitzgerald's past, the story follows him as he arrives on the MGM lot, falls in love with brassy gossip columnist Sheilah Graham,…


Book cover of Out With the Stars: Hollywood Nightlife in the Golden Era

Shawn Levy Author Of The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood's Chateau Marmont

From my list on Hollywood glamour and sleaze.

Why am I passionate about this?

Shawn Levy is the author of 11 books of biography and pop culture history, including The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood's Chateau Marmont, Paul Newman: A Life, Rat Pack Confidential, and Ready, Steady, Go! The Smashing Rise and Giddy Fall of Swinging London. He was the longtime film critic of The Oregonian newspaper and KGW-TV in his beloved home city of Portland. He has written a history of the women pioneers of standup comedy which will be published by Doubleday in 2022 and at work on a podcast about the dark connections of politics and show business.

Shawn's book list on Hollywood glamour and sleaze

Shawn Levy Why did Shawn love this book?

It doesn't matter that it was patently phony: The glamour that was Tinseltown in Hollywood's golden age was impossibly romantic and utterly irresistible. Much of it had to do with the social lives of movie stars, and in particular the shenanigans they got up to in swanky nightclubs where they danced, courted, and made merry. Jim Heimann is a superb chronicler of Los Angeles's architectural and cultural past, and this beautifully illustrated book is crammed with images of the likes of Clark Gable, Marlene Dietrich, Charlie Chaplin, Lucille Ball, Humphrey Bogart, and Lauren Bacall patronizing such swell spots as Mocambo, the Trocadero, Ciro's, the Coconut Grove, the Player's Club, and many others. They're all gone now, but this collection of hundreds of photos of the clubs, inside and out, and the patrons, dressed as if for a royal wedding, brings them back to vibrant life.

By Jim Heimann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Out With the Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Describes the Hollywood bars, restaurants, and nightclubs frequented by celebrities and movie stars from the 1920s to the 1940s.


Book cover of Music by Max Steiner: The Epic Life of Hollywood's Most Influential Composer

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?

Smith’s comprehensive biography of one of film history’s most prolific composers is a must-read for anyone interested in golden-age Hollywood.

Steiner worked on a vast array of films, such as King Kong, Gone with the Wind, and The Big Sleep, and Smith goes through the production of all of them. He explores Steiner’s life in detail, as well as his production process with his collaborators. Reading this book provides not just the life story of one composer, but an understanding of how film music worked in Hollywood in the 1930s through ‘50s.

By Steven C. Smith,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Music by Max Steiner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During a seven-decade career that spanned from 19th century Vienna to 1920s Broadway to the golden age of Hollywood, three-time Academy Award winner Max Steiner did more than any other composer to introduce and establish the language of film music. Indeed, revered contemporary film composers like John Williams and Danny Elfman use the same techniques that Steiner himself perfected in his iconic work for such classics as Casablanca, King Kong,
Gone with the Wind, The Searchers, Now, Voyager, the Astaire-Rogers musicals, and over 200 other titles. And Steiner's private life was a drama all its own. Born into a legendary…


Book cover of Farewell, My Lovely

Ray C Doyle Author Of The Defector's Diary

From my list on mystery thrillers ripped from news headlines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I guess my real interest in writing about the good and bad in crime and politics and the good and bad characters involved started with my first job as a junior in a local newspaper. The 60s was a time of great change. I was in the right place at the right time and got involved in reporting local government politics. I graduated later to cover Britain’s role within the EU in Brussels. I was fascinated, not so much by the politics but by the politicians and fellow news reporters involved. They inspired the creation of my fictional character, Pete West, a hardboiled political columnist. 

Ray's book list on mystery thrillers ripped from news headlines

Ray C Doyle Why did Ray love this book?

“I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat, and a gun.” The first line of one of the great Phillip Marlowe books that I fell in love with. 

As a young man, I often went to work with a Raymond Chandler paperback in my pocket. I couldn't put him down. I wanted to be Marlowe and talk like him. Chandler created a hero who taught me American slang language and how to talk the talk. The book follows Marlowe as he looks for the lost girlfriend of a guy just released from prison.

This is a wonderful noir work about a hard-boiled private detective. 

By Raymond Chandler,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Farewell, My Lovely as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The renowned novel from crime fiction master Raymond Chandler, with the "quintessential urban private eye" (Los Angeles Times), Philip Marlowe • Featuring the iconic character that inspired the forthcoming film Marlowe, starring Liam Neeson

Philip Marlowe's about to give up on a completely routine case when he finds himself in the wrong place at the right time to get caught up in a murder that leads to a ring of jewel thieves, another murder, a fortune-teller, a couple more murders, and more corruption than your average graveyard.


Book cover of In a Lonely Place

Sam Baron Author Of The Murder Club

From my list on crime thriller series that aren’t afraid to explore darkness.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like my series protagonist, FBI Agent Susan Parker, I am neurodiverse and have dealt with traumatic family events. I have Asperger’s, dyslexia, ADD, and have battled depression and suicidal impulses in earlier years. As a child, I experienced many violent, traumatic events, including the traumatic death of my mother, abduction, and abuse. However, my personal story has a happy ending: I overcame all challenges to become a fully functional individual with a rich, fulfilling family life and a successful career. Not surprisingly, I became a crime thriller superfan. I gravitate toward books that don’t shy away from depicting darkness but find a way for the MC to return to the sunlight.

Sam's book list on crime thriller series that aren’t afraid to explore darkness

Sam Baron Why did Sam love this book?

A hypnotic, often troubling journey into the mind of a killer and the detective hunting him down are the reasons I return to this book time and again. They are both commonly found elements in crime thrillers today. But what Dorothy Hughes did in this book appealed to me personally, perhaps because of my own personal relationship with crime and trauma, physical as well as emotional.

I’m always fascinated by how intensely Hughes manages to immerse us in both viewpoints with only a few sentences, shifting viewpoints and playing with our conscience in subtle ways. I’ve seen enough violence and trauma to know that motivations are not always as simple as we’d like them to be, and people often do the most unexpected things for the least obvious reasons.

By Dorothy B. Hughes,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked In a Lonely Place as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Puts Chandler to shame ... Hughes is the master we keep turning to'Sara Paretsky

After the war, cynical veteran Dix Steele has moved to L.A., a city terrified by a strangler preying on young women. Bumping into an old friend, now a detective working on the case, Dix is thrilled by closely following the progress of the police. And meeting his new neighbour, sultry and beautiful actress Laurel Gray, brings even more excitement into his life. But the strangler is still prowling the streets - and Laurel may be in more danger than she realises...

In a Lonely Place was…


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