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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon June 24, 2007
Cut! is a densely illustrated compendium of Hollywood's luminaries whose lives have been touched by tragedy, either in their career or in real life. The subtitle indicates "Hollywood murders, accidents, and other tragedies." The expected appear (Sharon Tate, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, William Desmond Taylor, Thelma Todd, Irving Thalberg) but there are a number of obvious stories missing. There is no Peg Entwhistle, the actress who in 1932 famously flung herself to her death from the "H" in the Hollywoodland sign. No Bob Crane, bludgeoned to death in his bed in Phoenix, Arizona, by persons unknown. No Paul Bern, shot to death in Jean Harlow's closet, perhaps by himself, perhaps by an abandoned ex-lover. As someone else pointed out, Olive Thomas, dead from ingesting bichloride of mercury in Paris, is missing; she exists only as a sentence in a page on husband Jack Pickford. Louise Brooks, whose exit from Tinseltown was of her own volition, and who died at a relatively advanced age in Rochester, NY, probably should have been included, rather than some of the little-known players who make an appearance (Ormer Locklear, for example, who died in an airplane stunt in 1920). Jon-Erik Hexum, who accidentally shot himself on the set of his TV series in the 1980s, is missing, arguably more remembered than Gloria Dickson or Dorothy Dell.

More than half the book is made up of people who died relatively young of diseases after having a Hollywood career (Lee Remick, John Garfield, Montgomery Clift), not what I would term a typical Hollywood tragedy conjured up by the title. There is a wealth of information on most celebrities, with very little I saw in the way of errors. One mistake appears twice: in two photo captions from the movie "Poltergeist," the boy in the movie (Oliver Robbins) is miscredited as Heather O'Rourke. Vic Morrow's accidental death along with two children by helicopter blade is relegated to a back section on movie-set tragedies. I am also uncertain as to why Linda Darnell, a B-movie actress, and Richard Farnsworth, a stuntman who came to acting late in life, rate two pages, while more major stars and award-winners like Betty Grable, Judy Holliday, Frank Morgan, Dick Powell, are summed up in one page. Perhaps it is due to the amount of "tragedy" in the subject's life: poor asylum inmate Frances Farmer gets two pages as well.

Also included are quite a number of obscurities, which may be is due to the book's main compilers being film professors and librarians. Who remembers Lya De Putti? Gilda Gray? Rita Johnson? Charles Ray? Mitzi Green? The average film fan has no idea who these long-lost people are, and the extent of their contribution to filmland seems slight.

The print is also exceedingly small, probably in an effort to keep the book from being encyclopedia-sized. Although, I could just be aging...

However, all that being said, it's still a nice reference book for people who love film and celebrities, keeping in mind some of it's more obvious exclusions.
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