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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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2.0 out of 5 stars Not enough of the old stuff Oct. 31 2002
By A Customer
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- of- my- looks and not acting ability "artists?" Many obscure silent and early talking stars could've and SHOULD'VE been included. But that's the way it is- nobody cares for the old. Makes a great coffee table book. Get this from the library. I was disappointed. I was done with it in one afternoon.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I love this book June 22 2002
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 again. My only disappointment is that there is not enough old Hollywood in the book. But, for new Hollywood photos and gossip, this is a primo tome.
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars A century's worth of Hollywood images March 14 2001
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 writers for added impact. A beautiful visual and verbal history of Hollywood results, suitable for art libraries and coffee tables alike. Well detailed in its essays, Vanity Fair's Hollywood is weightier and packed with information.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very good book! Jan. 10 2001
That's really a very good book.
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