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Vanity Fair's Tales of Hollywood: Rebels, Reds, and Graduates and the Wild Stories Behind the Making of 13 Iconic Films Paperback – December 10, 2008
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These lively essays from Vanity Fair reveal the stories behind 13 iconic films. The attitude taken toward several of these baker’s-dozen movies is, however, more ironic than reverent. But the circumstances surrounding the making of such ringers as Myra Breckinridge, Tommy, and Cleopatra make for reading that’s not only shamefully fascinating in a car-wreck sort of way but illuminating of the maddening methods of Hollywood. Not surprisingly, though, it’s the genuine classics—among them, Rebel without a Cause, All about Eve, The Magnificent Ambersons, and Midnight Cowboy—that concern the most substantive and rewarding entries. The contributors, who include such notable entertainment writers as James Wolcott and Peter Biskind, dish up enough gossip to satisfy the casual moviegoer (e.g., Mike Nichols originally envisioned Robert Redford and Ava Gardner for The Graduate) but pair it with enough substance to satisfy hard-core film buffs. This slender volume manages to cover a surprising amount of territory. --Gordon Flagg
About the Author
Graydon Carter is the editor of Vanity Fair, author of What We’ve Lost, and producer of the film The Kid Stays in the Picture. Carter is from Trenton, Ontario and attended the University of Ottawa and Carleton university.
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Some little tidbits of information that I found to be the most interesting, ( and this volume is chock full of very compelling anecdotes) were that there was only an 8 year difference in Dustin Hoffmans real age, and the real age of the actress playing Mrs. Robinson, in The Graduate, though he is marrying her daughter in the film version. After he finished making this film, he was the highest paid actor on the set of Midnight Cowboy ( paid more than Jon Voight, the direcor, and producer combined ), and one person who wanted to play the Midnight Cowboy part was none other than Elvis Presley, himself! Though that is my favorite film, the director of the film did not really think that much of it, and was suprised when it was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, and AMAZED when it won !
There is plenty of good gossip in the book, much of it already turned into established Hollywood lore, and the pieces may just alter your perspective on these films once you see them again. A good example is David Kamp's account of the ludicrously elongated filming of Cleopatra, which starred the multi-married Elizabeth Taylor in her own high voltage melodrama replete with adultery, absurdly large pieces of jewelry, and sympathy-inducing medical emergencies. Kamp also covers the sad story behind "The Magnificent Ambersons", a period piece which was edited without Welles' knowledge. His editor, Robert Wise (later a distinguished filmmaker in his own right), remembered sending the director's cut to Welles in Brazil and did not remember getting it back. Always perceived to be a lost masterpiece, the film may just be a case of a disappointment which the director distanced himself from by taking a government gig to make a failed South American documentary.
Studio ignorance plays a big role in several of these movies. There were high expectations for Gore Vidal's Myra Breckinridge, the novel of which summoned a price tag of $900,000 for the film rights in 1970. Yet, a neophyte writer-director named Michael Sarne was given the task of commandeering the big-budget production (featuring Farrah Fawcett in her big-screen debut) based on one modest film. However, the same gamble was placed on Mike Nichols directing The Graduate and Mel Brooks stumbling through The Producers, even though Brooks had no idea where to place the camera amid escalating tensions with star Zero Mostel. On "The Graduate", casting decisions proved crucial when one considers the fact that Doris Day and Robert Redford were the first choices to play Mrs. Robinson and Benjamin Braddock. There are equally memorable stories about classics as diverse as All About Eve,Rebel Without a Cause, Sweet Smell of Success, and Saturday Night Fever. This is a must-read for cineastes. All others have been forewarned.
Dustin Hoffman did'nt want to try out for "The Grauate". He thought he was too jewish, until Mike Nichols told him "Maybe the character is jewish inside?"
There are so many facts about how some of our most iconic movies were made and cast.
If you love movies, you'll LOVE this book! Have fun, one chapter at a time.
Most recent customer reviews
were intriguing. Wish some of the phrasing and language had been softened
and some stuff...Read more
Great book. Facts, no BS.
The real Mccoy. A prime rib.