The Day Before Hollywood

It was a suburb of orange blossoms and gardens, of gracious homes and quiet, dignified lives—until a regrettable class of people moved in.

THE IDEA OF HOLLYWOOD as a boomtown would not have surprised those who lived there as this century began, for they worked hard toward that very ideal. But they would have been astounded and dismayed had they foreseen the kind of boomtown it was destined to become. Read more »

An Interview With John Huston

The Dean of American Movie Men at Seventy-Five

John Huston was born on August 5, 1906, in Nevada, Missouri, a town that his grandfather won in a poker game, according to family legend. He was the son of Walter Huston, who, after fifteen years as a vaudeville headliner, became one of America’s finest dramatic actors, best known for playing the old farmer in Eugene O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms and for the title role in Dodsworth .Read more »

History And The Imagination

Ragtime and Reds

Hollywood ordinarily leaves American history well alone. But two of the winter’s big movies turn out to be meditations on early twentieth-century America. Ragtime , drawn from E. L. Doctorow’s novel, is set in the period from 1906 to 1908; Reds , based on the lives of John Reed and his wife, Louise Bryant, from 1915 to 1920.Read more »

Hollywood Cleans Up Its Act

The curious career of the Hays Office

The comparisons were inevitable. Just a year earlier, in 1921, organized baseball had tried to counter the effects of the Black Sox scandal by appointing the august Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis to the newly created position of commissioner.Read more »

Good Reading

The Plains Acrossi The Overland Emigrants and the Trans-Mississippi West, 1840-60

by John D. Unruh, Jr. University of Illinois Press Illustrations, tables, maps 565 pages, $20.00 Read more »

Hollywood’s Garden Of Allah

Tallulah Bankhead called it “the most gruesomely named hotel in the western hemisphere.” Others, perhaps thinking of its curious architecture or the monumental hangovers that accompanied its boozy high life, called it simply the most gruesome hotel. To most of its denizens, however—to the scores of stars, writers, directors, wits, and wags who would stay nowhere else when they went to Los Angeles to “make a movie”—it symbolized Hollywood itself. Read more »

The Late Late Silents

The last of the major silent films, made shortly before sound engulfed the movie industry in 1928, may not have been golden, but they glittered brightly. Some sixty million Americans were going to the movies more or less regularly, and production budgets were soaring to dizzy heights. Competition among the big film corporations— Paramount, Loew’s, Fox, Universal—was savage. In 1924 Loew’s had merged to become the formidable Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.Read more »

Doug Fairbanks

Superstar of the Silents

In early Hollywood there lived a King. He was married to a Queen. Her name was Mary, and she was a Golden Girl. He was dashing and marvellously graceful and young—above all young. Youth was very American, and besides, it was essential to the King

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Lord Of San Simeon

In his old age, William Randolph Hearst did a stately pleasure dome decree, and yet the secret river, youth, escaped him

Few men in recent history have been potentially more powerful—if, in the end, more frustrated—than William Randolph Hearst. Born to wealth, he forged a nationwide publishing empire and became in the process the biggest spender of his time. His name grew to be synonymous with “yellow journalism,” and his newspapers could make or break a promising political career, expose a gaudy scandal, create one where none existed, and even help start the war with Spain.

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