A glamorous person deserves a glamorous present.
These four books, created by cinephiles for cinephiles, are perfect picks for the film buff in your life: They usher readers behind the scenes and offer a bit of dish, a lot of insight and plenty of glam Old Hollywood fun.
The Hollywood Book Club by Steven Rea
Steven Rea’s The Hollywood Book Club: Reading with the Stars is filled with black-and-white photos of actors from Tinseltown of yore reading at home and on set, poolside and at kitchen tables. The stars’ artful poses and occasional sly grins keep things interesting, a la Gregory Peck looking up from To Kill a Mockingbird. Film critic and photo archivist Rea’s witty captions add color and context. He explains the meaning behind the featured books and offers insider details (Edward G. Robinson collected French Impressionist art; Bette Davis’ husband wanted a divorce because she read too much). This fascinating dive into Hollywood history is a splendidly starry way to add to your TBR pile.
Letters from Hollywood by Rocky Land & Barbara Hall
Rocky Lang and Barbara Hall know movies. Lang, son of a studio executive, is a producer, director and writer; Hall is a film historian and archivist. Their compendium Letters from Hollywood: Inside the Private World of Classic American Moviemaking is an excellent reference and engrossing exploration of American film from the silent era through the 1970s. Letters to and from famous actors, directors and more (Bela Lugosi, Katharine Hepburn, Claudia McNeil, Irving Berlin, Tom Hanks) are augmented by photos and other ephemera. Film buffs will revel in flipping to favorite luminaries, checking out surprising pen pals, admiring vintage stationery design and pondering the vanished art of writing letters. As Peter Bogdanovich writes in the foreword, “What a great idea!”
The Movie Musical! by Jeanine Basinger
At the beginning of The Movie Musical! Jeanine Basinger writes, “I was raised on musicals, and I love them.” That affection is evident in this 650-plus-page master class and love letter to the form and its practitioners. The author, a film historian and author of 11 other film books, takes readers on an edifying journey through the evolution of Hollywood musicals, from “the arrival of sound” in 1927’s The Jazz Singer to present-day extravaganzas like Bohemian Rhapsody (and La La Land, which she Does Not Like). She offers insight on what makes a musical, reveals the ways in which art and business collide and assesses the appeal of everyone from Gene Kelly to Diana Ross to Channing Tatum. Devotees will delight in revisiting beloved films—and making a list of musicals to watch ASAP.
Home Work by Julie Andrews
In this follow-up to 2008’s Home, Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton dive into Andrews’ movie-making era, which began in 1962 when Walt Disney offered her the lead role in Mary Poppins. In Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years, the authors bring us along on Andrews’ thrilling movie star journey with fascinating revelations about films like The Sound of Music, Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain, and Andrews’ second husband Blake Edwards’ 10 and That’s Life (the latter was their final film together; he died in 2010 after a 41-year marriage). Andrews was initially insecure in front of the cameras, but that soon gave way to using stage-honed instincts to inhabit characters from the outside in—via costumes and wigs, as well as, say, giving Ms. Poppins stiffly turned-out feet “to punctuate the impression of Mary’s character when flying.” Andrews shares diary entries, too, as she muses on the perpetual tug-of-war between family and work; the depression that plagued so many colleagues, including Edwards; and memorable trips abroad. Home Work is a multifaceted and absorbing 20-year tour of Hollywood through the eyes of one of its most beloved players.