Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: New Books Examine Film Noir, the Mankiewicz Brothers and Women in the Movies

Dark City cover with John Garfield and Lana Turner
Over the last several months, a plethora of film books have been released, examining Golden Age Hollywood up close or at large, offering something for everyone from experienced cinephiles to new film fans. Some come from TCM hosts or others with close connections, providing context and education on classic Hollywood, its films and players.

TCM Noir Alley host and Czar of Noir Eddie Muller’s recently revised and updated Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir provides a lavishly illustrated expanded compendium of all things dark and dangerous in the gritty world of film noir. The book takes a mesmerizing journey into the backstabbing world of post-World War II Hollywood and the seamy and sinister underbelly of the genre, offering detailed analysis and history on its films, players, and themes.

Muller’s thoughtful take and background on the creation and evolution of the genre gives a nuanced examination of history and social pressures as they shaped what was seen on screen. Stunning graphic images of posters and film stills richly illustrate and highlight the text. Engrossing and insightful, the work will please those newly introduced to the field as well as hard core fans of the genre.

Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir, Revised and Expanded Edition, $30.
Available at Book Soup, Skylight Books and Vroman’s in Pasadena.
Signed copies are available from Larry Edmunds Bookshop.

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Competing With Idiots cover showing Hermand and Joe MankiewiczBroadcast producer Nick Davis’ book Competing With Idiots: Herman and Joseph Mankiewicz, a Dual Portrait, takes a riveting look at the legendary screenwriters and brothers who scaled Hollywood’s heights before hubris, addiction, and disturbing sibling rivalry brought them crashing to earth.

Both escaped an overbearing, perfectionist father for whom good was never enough, becoming successful autodidacts and overachievers while tearing themselves up mentally and physically over unfulfilled dreams and disappointing relationships.

Herman, witty and 12 years older than Joseph, achieved lasting fame and an Oscar for writing Citizen Kane with wunderkind Orson  Welles while longing for success as a serious playwright, taking out his lack of courage and self-esteem with addictions in gambling and alcohol. Joseph, a four-time Oscar winner best remembered for his acerbic All About Eve, seduced leading ladies while battling out a troubled marriage with his mentally disturbed wife, Rose Stradner.

Davis, Herman’s grandson and Joe’s great-nephew, provides an evenhanded, nuanced portrait of the two competitive but loving brothers as well as the Hollywood system they loved and hated in equal measure.

Competing With Idiots: Herman and Joe Mankiewicz, a Dual Portrait, $30.
Available from Book Soup, Skylight Books and Vroman’s in Pasadena.

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Girls on Film cover, artwork of women sitting in a theaterTCM host Alicia Malone’s entertaining and engrossing new book Girls on Film: Lessons From a Life of Watching Women in Movies combines memoir and movie history to examine her love of classic films and how they have shaped her and others through the lessons they offer.

Growing up introspective and shy, Australian-born Malone found her curiosity piqued by Hollywood classic movies, finding refuge and inspiration in their strong female characters.

The films offered a window on relationships and life, which she employed in trying to make sense of the world. Her interest grew into a passion she shared with friends and family before evolving into a broadcast career and allowing her to find her voice as film historian and host on TCM.

Over the decades, however, as her viewing grew more nuanced, she learned to celebrate the emotional power of cinema while critiquing the hidden messages it offered young girls and women. Malone pulls apart the contradictory and often troubling aspects of movies while praising the female actors and executives who broke through barriers and hardships to offer positive traits for females of all ages.

Malone’s meditative and thoughtful work provides an inspiring, intriguing story for girls and women of all ages.

Girls on Film: Lessons From a Life of Watching Women in Movies, $16.95.
Available from Book Soup, Skylight Books and Vroman’s in Pasadena.
Signed copies are available from Larry Edmunds Bookshop.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Books and Authors, Film, Hollywood, Hollywood Heights, Mary Mallory and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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