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Vanity Fairs Hollywood [Hardcover]

Graydon Carter , Daniel Friend , Christopher Hitchens , David Friend
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 26 2003
The definitive book of its kind, Vanity Fair's Hollywood is an incomparable collection of classic photographs, essays, and caricatures depicting a century of Hollywood power, glamour, myth, and mystery-directly from the pages of Vanity Fair, from 1914 to today.

On the motion-picture front, no other publication of our age has achieved the stature, vitality, or magic of Vanity Fair. In its coverage of the film industry, the magazine prides itself on assigning the world's top photographers, writers, and illustrators to explore the brightest stars in the Hollywood firmament. Now, for the first time, the most memorable renderings of this illustrious pantheon have been assembled in one volume: Garbo and Swanson, Fairbanks and Pickford, Gable and Grant, Tracy and Hepburn, Taylor and Burton-along with today's cinematic giants, including Cruise and Kidman, Nicholson and Streep, De Niro and DiCaprio, Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, and scores more.

As this sweeping, lavish book makes clear, Vanity Fair's stable of photographers (Cecil Beaton, Annie Leibovitz, Helmut Newton, Herb Ritts, Edward Steichen, Mario Testino, Bruce Weber, and many others represented here) have helped define modern portraiture. "Getting your own photo shoot in Vanity Fair," said Maureen Dowd in The New York Times, "has become the premier achievement in our celebrity-mad culture." Likewise, Vanity Fair's Hollywood includes Vanity Fair contributors of the past (D.H. Lawrence, Clare Boothe Luce, Dorothy Parker, Carl Sandburg, Walter Winchell and P.G. Wodehouse) and of the present.

Here, then, is a century's worth of stars and moguls, parties and scandals, power and glamour, through the unrivaled lens and the inimitable prose of Vanity Fair.

Praise for Vanity Fair's Hollywood: Cameron Crowe: "A completely stunning tour of Hollywood's past and present."

Tom Cruise: "This book is a dynamic reflection of the period and its personalities through the eyes of some great photographers."

Barry Diller: "Every page tops the one before . . . You want it to never end. Vanity Fair's evocation of Hollywood is dazzling."

Sue Mengers: "A magnificent keeper. Stunning photos of everyone I've ever wanted to know."

Martin Scorsese: "Vanity Fair's Hollywood recreates this powerful sensation. Its striking, beautiful photographs-of the icons of the studios' golden age...."

Steven Spielberg: "Here is a remarkable gallery of personal moments and uninhibited vanities captured forever...."

Gore Vidal: "Like a pair of splendid Art Deco bookends...now brought together in a single volume...a kaleidoscope of startling images and urgent voices...."

Lew And Edie Wasserman: "Vanity Fair's Hollywood brings back some wonderful memories and captures the glamour and excitement of the entertainment community."

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As everybody who's anybody knows (and the rest of us too), the most exclusive Hollywood party is Vanity Fair magazine's Oscar-night bash. Vanity Fair's Hollywood is like the ultimate movie party--and how inviting it all is! Flip through the thick, glossy pages and greet the greats of all ages. Lillian and Dorothy Gish share a spread with Blythe Danner and Gwyneth Paltrow. Ms. Deneuve, resplendent in scarlet, meet Mr. Valentino, in classy black and white. Claudette Colbert as Cleopatra, meet Liz Taylor as Cleopatra (and if it's not too catty, did you notice Claudette was better dressed?). The stunning photos are cleverly juxtaposed. Julia Roberts, posed naughtily in see-through undies in the water, is followed by a very properly attired Doris Day in a see-through skirt. Day holds six brightly dyed poodles by white leashes; the composition forms a visual rhyme with the six accusing fingers pointed at Peter Lorre in the next picture. The photo captions by Christopher Hitchens are as succinctly clever as Dorothy Parker, encapsulating entire careers in a punning paragraph. Even if you've seen a shot before, you learn things: in the most notorious still ever snapped at a Hollywood party--the one where Sophia Loren ogled Jayne Mansfield's voluminous bosom--Hitchens tells us the object of Loren's appalled regard was "the strategic dabs of makeup on [Jayne's] nipples."

Like any good party, this vast book offers sparkling talk as well as gobs of eye candy. The brilliant Peter Biskind evokes the '70s heyday of superagent Sue Mengers, D.H. Lawrence makes a stab at defining "sex appeal," Patricia Bosworth adds the patented VF dash of scandal in a piece on Lana Turner's gangster boyfriend's murder, and Hitchens gives a quickie history of the fabled Sunset Strip. Not everything rises to the august occasion: Carl Sandburg's poem about Chaplin and Clare Boothe Luce's snooty ode to Garbo are mostly of antiquarian interest. Most of the historic stuff is great (e.g., Fritz Lang directing a crowd scene in Metropolis), and the most austere cineaste should own this book. On practically every page, Vanity Fair's Hollywood dazzles. It's a keeper. --Tim Appelo

From Publishers Weekly

This lavish, photo-laden tour of Tinsel Town's history is coffee-table condensation of 87 years of Vanity Fair coverage of the Hollywood scene. Visually, it's a thrilling compendium of images that have defined not only the film industry and its workers but how the American public has understood them. Ranging from Edward Steichen's iconographic black-and-white portraits of Louise Brooks, Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg, and Gloria Swanson (which defined the "look" of Hollywood in its first half-century) to the contemporary and often shocking color photographs of Annie Leibovitz (of nearly everyone from Sylvester Stallone and John Travolta to Cate Blanchette and Johnny Depp)Dand peppered with shots by Bruce Weber, Irving Penn, Helmut Newton, Griege Hurrell and othersDthe book traces how these stars have come to embody pop mythologies of everyday life. The photos are interspersed among 13 (mostly short) essays by writers as diverse as Carl Sandberg, Patricia Bosworth, P.G. Wodehouse, Dorothy Parker, Peter Biskind and D.H. Lawrence, which range from the humorous to the illuminating. While serious film buffs will find nothing terribly new here, Vanity Fair's trademark mix of wit and style, chic and intelligence is guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser. (Oct. 23)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great coffee table book! Sept. 26 2002
This book is filled with photographs and essays about Hollywood and its stars. There is a wide variety of photographs exhibited here. My only complaint would be that they are not set up in any kind of order. A picture of Jack Nicholson playing golf on one page and then turn the page to find a picture of Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. I suppose they thought chronological or theme order would have been too predictable. My favorite photos are: Doris Day (p. 26), the essay and photo of Greta Garbo (pgs. 42-43), James Dean clowning (p. 47), Jayne Mansfield and Sophia Loren (p.158) the Malibu Beach drawing from 1933 (p.242), Sophia Loren (p. 247), Jackie Cooper and Mickey Rooney (p. 276), Loretta Young in 1935 and 1999 (pgs.292 and 293) and Olivia de Havilland (p. 310). As you can tell, my interests are toward vintage photos, but there are photos of today's celebs as well, such as Gwyneth Paltrow or Cameron Diaz and these are wonderful photos, too. The pictures in Vanity Fair are always unique and this is a great compilation.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Gorgeous, Glamorous Glance at Glitter Nov. 28 2000
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Hollywood has always stood for dreams. Vanity Fair's take has always
been to turn the tinsel used to depict those dreams into glamor. This
book is very much in keeping with the magazine's slant and Hollywood's
most inflated view of itself. The book faithfully reproduces a
cross-section of Vanity Fair's 86 year history.
Before you read
further, let me caution you that this book teems with suggestiveness.
If that sort of thing isn't your cup of tea, skip this book.
photographs are the best part of thebook. There are large numbers of
outstanding examples of work by Edward Steichen and Annie Leibovitz.

The pages are oversized, and many images are done as double
spreads. This makes for seeing very large features of the stars
portrayed, and this has high impact effects on the viewer -- evoking a
sense of the wide screen. The editing was wisely done to select many
images that can be reasonably faithfully reproduced that way.

Unfortunately, many fine photographs were reproduced with the
middle fold through an important part of the image. Some of the
images that were not so spoiled also were overinked in a way that make
the details hard to discern. Inexplicably, there were no credits
listed for many photographs. I graded the book down one star for
being insufficiently well designed, credited and printed to portray
all of the photographs to their best advantage.
Except for this
very regrettable and significant set of flaws on the photography side,
the book is very well done. The selection of photographs was
brilliantly done to not only highlight great ones, but to create
interplay among them . . . and among themes . . .
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By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
You won't need popcorn to enjoy this trip to the movies. And, what a trip it is - the classiest, glossiest, most glamorous photographic history of Hollywood to be found in print.
"Vanity Fair," the magazine that has kept an unerring eye on Tinsel Town for the past 87 years, has assembled a gallery of memorable images by such renowned photographers as Edward Steichen, Helmut Newton, Annie Leibovitz, Irving Penn, and others.
Luminaries of the silver screen are found at work and at play, in incredible photos that capture not only a visage but an essence: a clown costumed Al Jolson is poignant in song, an in your face bathrobe clad Jack Nicholson wields a golf club, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Joan Crawford laze on a sun kissed beach, a sensuous Johnny Depp challenges with his eyes, a bereft Steve Martin is the quintessential loser, and Mae West gives a boxer her heavy lidded once over.
Artfully and thoughtfully positioned, the photos themselves are a visual record of movie town's history: a black and white studio shot of Walter Huston faces a color portrait of jodphur clad Anjelica Huston, the Fonda family (Jane, Henry and Peter)offer congenial smiles, A piquant very young Drew Barrymore is partnered with a revealing backstage glimpse of John Barrymore, Harold Lloyd faces a bemused Tom Hanks.
Group photos also tell a story from Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall joining pals for a Sunday afternoon gin rummy tournament at Clifton Webb's house to the directors who made and are making cinematic history to the MGM musical starlets from the 1940s and 1950s. All here - a visual paean to the past and present.
Among the 292 iconographic photographs are found brief essays, the words of P. G. Wodehouse, D. H.
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A delicious, witty, immensely entertaining and amusing overview of the famous and talented of Hollywood. The photos are absolutely delightful as I imagine they would be by Edward Steichen,Herb Ritts, Irving Penn and (especially) Annie Leibovitz among (many) others. The photos seem to capture the nature of the subjects - Brando so anti glamour, Anjelica Huston so assertive, and Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon on the closing page, half naked and in drag, so so ... they're just great subjects/actors. The illustrations are also great as is the prose by Dorothy Parker, P.G. Wodehouse and others. The only disappointment is that in paperback the binding is so fragile that the weight of the pages pulls the book to pieces. My copy has broken completely away from the covers, and not from any rough handling. In hardcover this is a five star enterprise, perhaps one of the best I have seen considering the thousands of books that are associated with that place.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Not enough of the old stuff
While there were some great vintage articles and photographs, why are pages blown to show wastes like Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt, and other I-make -money- because-... Read more
Published on Oct. 31 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars I love this book
I have always loved movie books, and this one on the stars is great. The pictures are really fabulous, and I have spent hours looking through it and reading the text over and over... Read more
Published on June 22 2002 by Just Another Opinion
5.0 out of 5 stars A century's worth of Hollywood images
Vanity Fair's Hollywood draws from the magazine's photo archive to reveal a century's worth of Hollywood images, choosing over 290 of its photos and pairing them with notable... Read more
Published on March 13 2001 by Midwest Book Review
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good book!
That's really a very good book.
Published on Jan. 10 2001 by Kwok Ching Kwong
5.0 out of 5 stars A Glorious Glittered Tour through Stardom
A wonderful book that portrays the glitz and glamour of Hollywood at its most glorious. Vanity Fair's best inspirational photos are presented from the distant and not-too-recent... Read more
Published on Dec 19 2000 by Mark Piske
5.0 out of 5 stars Instant Classic
This book is a pure delight. It captures the glamour and shimmering romance that is Hollywood. David Friends' brilliant picture editing showcases the best of Vanity Fairs'... Read more
Published on Oct. 17 2000 by M. Kravitz
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious. A must.
The best and most beautifully produced book on Hollywood I've ever seen. Graydon Carter has drawn on Vanity Fair's own vast and unique archive of exquisite photographs to maximium... Read more
Published on Oct. 10 2000
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