Hollywood Gold: Famous Films of the Forties & Fifties
This book's real meat lies in its extensive cast and camera credits plus background information and reviews on all 160 titles from Adventures of Mark Twain through to You Were Never Lovelier. Most enjoyable of many extras are the inside comments on Ghost of Frankenstein, Humoresque, The Killers, Letter from an Unknown Woman, Nightmare Alley, Niagara, The Thin Man, We're Not Married, Malaya, etc. More
John Howard Reid has written 3 books dealing specifically with American movies of the 1940s. The other two are titled "Memorable Films of the Forties" and "Popular Pictures of the Hollywood 1940s". However, I consider this book to be the best. Admittedly, I'm a little prejudiced because I contributed a few items myself such as additional comments on that colorful Maria Montez vehicle, "White Savage", on the Tyrone Power lend-lease to "A Yank in the R.A.F.", on the Bing Crosby song-fest, "Top o' the Morning", on the Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn partnership in "State of the Union", on the mediocre Charlie Chan, "The Shanghai Chest", on Fritz Lang's must-see thriller, "Secret Beyond the Door", on Fred Astaire's "Second Chorus", on Michael Curtiz's wonderful, absolutely delightful Rosalind Russell vehicle, "Roughly Speaking", on that clasic film noir, "The Postman Always Rings Twice" and the truly nightmarish Tyrone Power "Nightmare Alley", on the Anatole Litvak-Henry Fonda "The Long Night", and on what is possibly the best movie of the whole decade, namely "Letter from an Unknown Woman". I also have some remarks on that Marilyn Monroe early venture in "Ladies of the Chorus", on Bette Davis' "Beyond the Forest" and Ernest Hemingway's "The Killers"; plus five or six lesser titles such as Humphrey Bogart's "The Big Shot" and Val Lewton's "The Leopard Man". While my contributions are comparatively few, the real meat of the book lies in the extensive cast and camera credits plus the background information and reviews provided on each of the 150 or so titles covered in the book's 260 pages. For easy reference, the movies are alphabetically arranged from "The Admiral Was a Lady" and "The Adventures of Mark Twain" through to "You Were Never Lovelier". One of the most enjoyable of the many highlights you'll find in all John Howard Reid's books are the exclusive comments often provided by the stars and the directors themselves. Reid didn't waste his time in Hollywood. On "You Were Never Lovelier", for instance, he provides brief comments by both Rita Hayworth and Fred Astaire. Like other books in this series, "Hollywood Gold" provides a great deal of information on movies that are currently available as DVD releases. "The Chase", for example, can be found in $2 bargain bins all over the place, yet Reid quotes no less than three respected critics who hold extremely high opinions not only of its cinematic value but of its superior entertainment qualities. Admittedly, with a cult director like Arthur Ripley at the helm and a cast that includes Michele Morgan and Peter Lorre, it would be hard to go wrong. Even for $2! Of course, there's no need for Reid to direct our attention to movies like "The Ghost of Frankenstein", "Humoresque", "The Killers", "Letter from an Unknown Woman", "Nightmare Alley", "The Paradine Case", "Passage to Marseilles", "The Postman Always Rings Twice", "The Scarlet Claw", "Second Chorus", "The Snows of Kilimanjaro", "Tales of Manhattan", "The Thin Man Goes Home", "13 Rue Madeleine", "We're Not Married" and "Where the Sidewalk Ends", as we've already added these DVDs to our collections. But, on the other hand, it's nice to find out a great deal more about these movies and also be able to easily identify players and find out background and release details without having to trawl through online sites that not only take their toll in time and frustration, but often leave the information seeker empty-handed. Although the book is subtitled, "Films of the Forties and Fifties", Reid's accent is definitely on the 40's. But I'm not complaining about that. I'm an avid "forties" fan too.
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