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Cast of Killers (G K Hall Large Print Book Series) Hardcover – Large Print, August, 1987


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Product Details

  • Series: G K Hall Large Print Book Series
  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: G K Hall & Co; Lrg edition (August 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816142742
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816142743
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,634,389 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As he was researching his "official" biography of King Vidor, the late film director, Kirkpatrick made the discovery on which this true crime story is built. Vidor, planning to make a movie about William Desmond Taylor, murdered in 1922, set out to investigate the unsolved crime 45 years later. Taylor had been a famous director of silents and his death was a sensation that ruined the careers of actresses Mary Miles Minter, Mabel Normand (the victim's reputed lovers) and other Hollywood luminaries. Kirkpatrick skillfully leads the reader into Vidor's search as the director studies old files and questions people in the movie colony who remembered those involved in the tragedy. The result is a riveting mystery. In his dramatic reconstruction, Kirkpatrick uncovers Vidor's convincing evidence, never disclosed by the director, that Taylor was killed by the mother of ingenue Minter. Photos not seen by PW. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo; author tour. (June
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In 1922, Hollywood film director William Desmond Taylor was murdered, and the crime was never officially solved. In 1967, the late director King Vidor decided to investigate the mystery in order to make a film about it. (No film resulted.) Kirkpatrick recounts the story of Vidor's sleuthing, which uncovered scandal, corruption, coverups, and, ultimately, Vidor believed, the identity of the killer. This is a well-researched book, breezily related, whose impact is lessened somewhat by digressions into Vidor's personal life. The combination of Hollywood and murder is likely to be popular. For most public libraries. Gregor A. Preston, Univ. of California Lib., Davis
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Very well written!
Kindle Customer
After his death, his would-be biographer Sidney Kirkpatrick found Vidor's box full of notes... hidden under the hot water heater in Vidor's basement.
metaphor@metaphorce.com
Very interesting book and a very good read.
Sandra Borns

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Bobby Underwood VINE VOICE on April 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
King Vidor was a legendary film director largely forgotten by Hollywood at the time of his death. Sydney Kirkpatrick came to Vidor's home after his death to research a well deserved biography but instead discovered a buried box full of dynamite. In the box were notes for a planned project which was to be the director's comeback film. But the explosive nature of his findings had prompted Vidor to bury it, literally.

This book is based on what Kirkpatrick found in that box. It is full of mystery and murder, love and lust, and in the end, sadness at the solving of one of the most famous and sensational scandels in the history of tinsletown. It is a mesmerizing journey into the early days of Hollywood and the lengths it would go to to cover up its secrets.

In 1922 the murder of director William Desmond Taylor was so filled with scandel it ruined careers and nearly destroyed Hollywood. If the absolute truth had been known, it might have. King Vidor had been a part of this Hollywood in its formative years and planned to make his comeback film by telling the story of it. Kirkpatrick could have turned this into a pulp type expose but instead, and to his credit, takes a respectful and nostalgic tone, both for Vidor and a time gone by. He uses Vidor's notes and findings to let this murder mystery unfold just as it did for Vidor.

For every film buff with a fascination for old Hollywood this is a book you can't put down. It is juicy but never tawdry, Vidor sifting through the misinformation of Hollywood and the corruption of the police to slowly get a picture of the truth he himsef couldn't yet tell because some of the players were still alive.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 10, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In 1922, director William Desmond Taylor was found shot to death in his home, and two celebrated stars fell under suspicion. The case was never solved, and lingering questions about the crime spelled finish for the careers of the brilliant comic actress Mable Normand and the popular ingenue Mary Miles Minter. But in Hollywood, old sins cast long shadows: the case continued to be investigated off and on over subsequent decades, providing considerable fodder for the tabolid press. In time, it became a legend, and in the the late 1960s director King Vidor--who had been acquainted with most of the individuals involved--began his own investigation in hopes of developing the story into a film.
Vidor eventually set his findings aside, and after his death biographer Sidney D. Kirkpatrick uncovered his extensive notes on the Taylor case. The result is A CAST OF KILLERS, a book which purports to solve the case for once and for all. Although he writes with a somewhat superficial tone, Kirkpatrick spins out his story with considerable conviction. What emerges is an extremely distasteful portrait of greed. According to Kirkpatrick, the studios decided to protect themselves even to the extent of implicating innocent parties while the Los Angeles Police Department preferred to extort money from the killer instead of bringing the case to court. But more disturbing than this is the portrait Kirkpatrick paints a profoundly dysfunctional family, the head of which was dominated by a need for money, fame, and absolute control.
Ultimately there is no hard proof for Kirkpatrick's conclusions, but--and in spite of several errors that have crept into the work--he makes an extremely convincing case for their validity. While A CAST OF KILLERS is far too popular in content to satisfy students of the crime (described as Taylorologists), it is largely in line with current theory re this famous murder, and it makes for a fascinating read. Recommended.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 11, 1998
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Edited Review: By correcting or qualifying most of the historical errors found in the 1986 edition, this twentieth anniversary edition has greater historical value, while losing none of the entertainment value of the original edition. I would now improve its rating if I could.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Gabriel on March 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A Cast of Killers is a once-in-a-lifetime read: a nonfiction tale told in the style of the best detective fiction, based on the memoir kept by the "private eye", moviemaker King Vidor, discovered by would-be Vidor biographer Sidney Kirkpatrick. Vidor didn't make the film he wanted to, based on the facts he uncovered and the conclusions to which they led, because some of the principals in the case were still around, and could have been hurt by the revelations (they also could have sued, forcing him to prove the allegations in the now forever-unmade film in court).

But Kirkpatrick wasn't under that kind of threat in 1986, and he told the story in book form much as I think Vidor might have told it on film--except that Vidor would have set the film in the 1920s when it all took place. The book follows Vidor's own investigation, undertaken in the late 1960s, and offers the conclusion he arrived at, not as the final word forever, but as the only possible conclusion given the information he'd uncovered.

The murder of prominent film director William Desmond Taylor in 1922 nearly destroyed Hollywood--or, at least, the resulting scandal nearly did. Two prominent stars, Mary Miles Minter and Mabel Normand, did have their already star-crossed careers destroyed by the revelations that came about as a result of the murder. Vidor's investigation gives reason to doubt some of those revelations, if not all of them.

What is obvious is that a murder investigation was tampered with, and quite possibly severely, by a number of the principals in the story, with the hoped-for (by the tamperers) result that the truth was never known, the most likely suspect never brought to trial.
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More About the Author

Sidney D. Kirkpatrick is an award-winning filmmaker and international best-selling author. His critically acclaimed non-fiction books include A CAST OF KILLERS, TURNING THE TIDE, LORDS OF SIPAN, EDGAR CAYCE: AN AMERICAN PROPHET, THE REVENGE OF THOMAS EAKINS, and HITLER'S HOLY RELICS. His documentary film, MY FATHER THE PRESIDENT, about Theodore Roosevelt as seen through the eyes of his daughter, Ethel Roosevelt Derby, was a winner at the American Film Festival. HBO, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and the A & E Television Networks have all featured his work. Biographical profiles of Kirkpatrick have appeared in The New York Times, Time Magazine, The New Yorker, and Playboy. He is a graduate of Hampshire College and New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. He lives in Ontario, Canada and Pasadena, Ca.