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Killer Tomatoes: Fifteen Tough Film Dames and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Killer Tomatoes: Fifteen Tough Film Dames

22 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0786418831
ISBN-10: 0786418834
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This book fetes the most fascinating women onscreen in the 1930s, '40s and '50s." --Classic Images

About the Author

Ray Hagen spent 15 years acting, dancing, and singing on and off Broadway, has written two off-Broadway plays, co-authored a movie reference book, conducted numerous film-related interviews, and narrates books on tape for the Library of Congress. He lives in Washington D.C.

Laura Wagner lives in New York. She has been a regular contributor to various movie publications, and is the book reviewer for Classic Images. She is currently working on several projects, including a book on Virginia Mayo.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 279 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland (September 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786418834
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786418831
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,223,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By K. L. McHale on July 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
In the world of Hollywood Biographies, you will find tons of books on Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe. But everyone else seems to have been forgotten. That is why "Killer Tomatoes" is such a wonderful book! It brings back to life the forgotten stars like Lynn Bari, Marie Windsor, Ida Lupino, Ann Dvorak, Gloria Grahame, Jean Hagen, Adele Jergans, Joan Blondell, Claire Trevor, Mercedes McCambridge and my favorite....Ann Sheridan. It also tells about more known (but still not as talked about) actresses like Jane Russell and Barbara Stanwyck. The book also presents the very well known Lucille Ball. With Lucille Ball, Laura Wagner reminds us that she was something BEFORE "I Love Lucy". This book is well researched and annotated and is just generally a fun read! Both Ray Hagen and Laura Wagner are to be complimented on presenting each of these ladies and not telling their stories in an overly fawning fashion (like some bios do) or whitewashing the stories. It's a great addition to anyone who collects books on Hollywood history. It's a real breath of fresh air in a stale Hollywood biography climate.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Charles Tranberg on September 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
I've always been partial to the so-called dames rather than the ladies in movies. Don't get me wrong I love Katharine Hepburn and other ladies, but for my money the brassy dames of the films always gave as good as she got--and then some. This book includes some of my all-time favorites: Jane Russell, Lucille Ball--yes, it's important to remember that before Lucille became "Lucy" she was one of the best tough broads in pictures in films like "Dance, Girl, Dance" and "The Big Street", Joan Blondell, Ida Lupino and especially Barbara Stanwyck--I can't think of an American actress who combined so well toughness on the outside with a thick layer of vulnerability on the inside. The profiles are wonderful and I even learned a few new facts that I never knew before. I highly recommend these Killer Tomatoes.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Forte on March 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
I highly recommend this book to any classic movie lover. It is well-researched, informative, and entertaining. Unlike several other books of its kind, the two authors, in addition to covering the actresses' personal lives, also take the pains to explore and discuss the characters whom these women portrayed. In several instances, they lift direct dialogue from the films themselves to elaborate on their roles. What is the end result after reading this volume? Like me, I think you may find yourself trying to see as many of these films as you can! I anxiously await future writings from both Laura Wagner and Ray Hagen.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By G.Denning on June 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
A boring read? Afraid to talk about the stars' private lives? Someone is either not paying attention or has an axe to grind.

This interesting, throughly entertaining, book tackles fifteen amazing women. The authors deal with the films AND the lives. Jane Russell and Jean Hagen's battles with alcohol are discussed, in detail, and Marilyn Maxwell insatiable appetite for men is bravely set forth. Laura Wagner's chapter on Maxwell does not shy away from her affairs with Frank Sinatra and, especially, Bob Hope. Even Jimmy Durante is involved. Boring? I was on the edge of my seat. Also discussed: Gloria Grahame's obsession with her face; Ida Lupino's fierce determination & personal relationships; Lynn Bari's problems with Sid Luft; Ann Dvorak's bad career choices and her first husband's control over her; and Ann Sheridan, via Ray Hagen's personal interview with her from the `60s, talking about her studio battles. All this (and more) is a lack of private details? "There is absolutely no new information in this book"? That is just not correct, considering that there are new INTERVIEWS contained within and new info on Ann Dvorak & Adele Jergens, among others. "Very few photos"? Each chapter, except for the Gloria Grahame which has more, contains five photos each. 80 photos in a book of this type is more than okay.

I say the authors did an incredible job maintaining a balance between the films and the lives. There are exclusive interviews in here with Mercedes McCambridge, Ann Sheridan and Jane Russell. New details are available on Ann Dvorak and Adele Jergens, and Lucille Ball is finally shown to be an ACTRESS, not just the star of "I Love Lucy."

The authors delve deep to come up with compelling portraits of these women and I think they did an amazing job.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Burks on June 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
The chapters of "Killer Tomatoes: Fifteen Tough Film Dames" are not only a Who's Who line-up of some of the brassiest broads to grace the silver screen, the profiles, written alternately by Ray Hagen and Laura Wagner, jump off the page with as much snap and sizzle as the attitudes and dialogue that earned these ladies their saucy reputations. We learn how these actresses came to play the parts that classified them as Tough Film Dames, and we also learn what about their lives and personalities enabled them to do it so well, on and sometimes even off the screen. I bought this book primarily to read about Ann Sheridan but quickly found myself starting from page one and not stopping until way past reasonable lights out in order to devour each tantalizing Tomato. I had so much fun reading it that I'm not sure how much actual information my brain retained the first time around, but revisiting it again (and again) will not be a hardship.
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