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Help me find a book for a classic movie buff
December 13, 2012 12:07 PM   Subscribe

I need a book gift for a classic movie buff!

I'm looking for a good book about the golden age of movies in Hollywood, either glossy type or biographies or other? My friend is a movie nut and I'd love to give something they would enjoy (and hopefully haven't read!).

Bonus points for anything related to Frankenstein, Groucho Marx, Boris Karloff, WC Fields, "classic" horror movies like Dracula or Frankenstein. I think they've already read most of the Groucho stuff but I'll take suggestions!
posted by bellastarr to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've not read them cover to cover yet, but I think the Inside Oscar books by Damien Bona (co-author of both) and Mason Wiley (co-author on the first one) are a pretty neat look inside the annual awards game/racket. Very Hollywood-y and insidery. They aren't specific to Frankenstein, Groucho Marx, et al, but are very "classic movie."
posted by jroybal at 12:23 PM on December 13, 2012


I'm assuming they already have this... not a book, but an essential.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:23 PM on December 13, 2012


Not Hollywood, but for classic horror films you can't beat The Hammer Story about the famed British studio!
posted by Hanuman1960 at 12:24 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Universal Studios Monsters: A Legacy of Horror is pretty nice.
posted by hot soup girl at 12:24 PM on December 13, 2012


And now I see the Inside Oscar books are out of print, but used copies are available.
posted by jroybal at 12:26 PM on December 13, 2012


My favorite critic these days is David Thomson. Several of his books would fit your bill.
posted by ubiquity at 12:26 PM on December 13, 2012


If they're filled up with Groucho stuff -- Harpo Speaks! is one of the most delightful, charming books ever written. I cannot overstate how wonderful this book is. Harpo's son's Bill picks up where his father left off, and is a nice companion piece.

Similarly, Tallulah Bankhead's memoirs are a real hoot, even if she sorta drifts off towards the end. So many good anecdotes of this great, beautiful nutbar.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:27 PM on December 13, 2012


The monster books look great as does the Tallulah memoir. I know he's read and memorized the Harpo Speaks! book..
posted by bellastarr at 12:34 PM on December 13, 2012


The Self Styled Siren, classic film blogger sans pareil, has some excellent ideas. From her list, I can personally recommend the Peter Lorre biography "The Lost One" (very sad, though) as well as Otis Ferguson's collected film criticism, which is out of print but available via AbeBooks.
posted by Currer Belfry at 12:47 PM on December 13, 2012


It might be cool to get him a for-real artifact of the Golden Age — perhaps some old movie magazines from the period (with someone he's a fan of on the cover?). Original publicity materials can be had for fairly cheap on Ebay (depending on the film / actor), too.

(And if this kind of thing is something you think he'd like, he should also know about the Media History Digital Library's Fan Magazine scanning project!)
posted by bubukaba at 12:52 PM on December 13, 2012


Have you looked in the TCM shop at all?

Some older memoirs that might be good possibilities, despite the lack of monsters:
I LOVED David Niven's Bring On the Empty Horses. Lots of stuff about the personalities of famous folks like Gable/Lombard, Bogart/Bacall, all sorts of other people and stories. The title comes from the not-great-at-English director Michael Curtiz, I believe, calling for a battlefield scene to start.

I haven't read The Moon's A Balloon, but others have enjoyed it quite a bit. (The edition that includes both books seems to be abridged.)

As I Am (Patricia Neal) is on my reading list.
posted by Madamina at 1:06 PM on December 13, 2012


City of Nets is outstanding, but maybe a little more serious than what you're looking for, I'm not sure.
posted by Mothlight at 3:02 PM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I very much like James Harvery's Romantic Comedy in Hollywood, and also Goldwyn by Berg, and Louise Brooks' Lulu in Hollywood.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:08 PM on December 13, 2012


On the early side, but you can't go wrong with The Parade's Gone By.... They had faces then, and stories.
posted by Scram at 5:54 PM on December 13, 2012


City of Nets is indeed extraordinary.
posted by dobbs at 9:40 PM on December 13, 2012


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