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Hollywood East: Louis B. Mayer and the origins of the studio system Paperback – August 30, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Altman (whose father was a former MGM East Coast talent scout) outlines the early careers of such film-industry founders as Adolph Zukor, Albert Warner, William Fox, Marcus Loew and others, making the point that the industry's true headquarters during its first five decades was not Hollywood but New York City. Her narrative spotlight is aimed mainly at Louis B. Mayer, the very emblem of the Hollywood movie mogul who, it turns out, was answerable to bosses at 1540 Broadway ("across the street from the Camel Cigarette sign blowing smoke"). Altman describes the cutthroat competition among industry pioneers, attempts by organized crime to muscle in--Mayer was one of the few movie moguls to fight back--and the changes wrought by WW II and the postwar advent of drive-in theaters and television. Finally, she relates the story of Mayer's dismissal in 1957 by the powers at corporate headquarters in Times Square and his brave comeback attempt, which failed when MGM stockholders voted against him. This is an entertaining though superficial chronicle, remarkable only for its admiring treatment of Mayer. As Altman remarks in the introduction, "Louis B. Mayer-bashing is a current fad." Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Film historian Altman pledges to defend the reputation of early mogul Mayer, attacked most notably in Bosley Crowther's Hollywood Rajah ( LJ 2/1/60). Since no one really cares, it is fortunate that she writes from a bird's-eye view of the rise of American motion pictures with Mayer just one of the various personalities who had a part. Twentieth-century world history, cinema history, biography, news clippings, and anecdotes come together in a blunt style that somehow works beautifully and cleanly. This is sophisticated storytelling and admirable history that reads like historical fiction. It even includes a poem by Rudolph Valentino. The problem of subjectivity is overcome by the book's structure. Recommended for popular collections.
- Brian Geary, West Seneca,
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

An independent film historian and fiction writer with degrees from Connecticut College and Harvard University, Diana Altman is the author of the novel In Theda Bara's Tent and the non-fiction film history Hollywood East: Louis B. Mayer and the origins of the studio system. Her work has appeared in the NY Times, ForbesWoman, American Heritage, StoryQuarterly and many other places. She is the daughter of the late Al Altman, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's New York talent scout, who picked Joan Crawford out of the chorus line and discovered Jimmy Stewart, Ava Gardner, John Forsythe, Dean Stockwell, Celeste Holm, and dozens of other unknown actors who became international stars. The author has appeared on radio talk shows as well as on television, including Entertainment Tonight. She is a former President of the Boston chapter of the Women's National Book Association, a member of the Central Park Conservancy,a Trustee of the Sebago Long Lake Music Festival in Maine, a world-traveler, as well as a champion horsewoman. She lives in New York City with her husband.

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