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The Star Machine

The Star Machine [Kindle Edition]

Jeanine Basinger
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £11.67
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Product Description

Product Description

From one of our most distinguished film scholars, comes a rich, penetrating, amusing book about the golden age of movies and how the studios worked to manufacture stars.

With revelatory insights and delightful asides, Jeanine Basinger shows us how the studio “star machine” worked when it worked, how it failed when it didn't, and how irrelevant it could sometimes be. She gives us case studies focusing on big stars groomed into the system: the “awesomely beautiful” (and disillusioned) Tyrone Power; the seductive, disobedient Lana Turner; and a dazzling cast of others. She anatomizes their careers, showing how their fame happened, and what happened to them as a result. Deeply engrossing, full of energy, wit, and wisdom, The Star Machine is destined to become an classic of the film canon.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars are the stars out tonight? 22 Jan 2009
By Gail Cooke TOP 500 REVIEWER
As the author writes "`Movie star' in the old Hollywood was a concept. The person who became one juggled opposing forces: studio domination and ownership versus personal ambition and self-assertion."

Basinger explores each of these forces in fascinating detail as they relate to a myriad of actors and actresses. Part One is a dissection of actors/actresses and the factory system - the lengths that studios would go to and the money spent to develop a star astounds. Of course, more often than not the "star" had little to do with the real person but as long as movie-goers voiced their approval it didn't matter. Appearances, personalities, private lives could be manufactured as long as the person had that certain something on screen. The ones who had "it" easily come to mind - Lana Turner, Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, Rita Hayworth, etc. They were, one might say, commodities, bought and sold.

At times, in order for that "it" to become apparent a perfect on-screen mate was needed. Think Walter Pidgeon and Greer Garson, Abbott and Costello. Or, as Katharine Hepburn said about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, "He gives her class and she gives him sex."

Part Two deals largely with individuals - the human factor in the star system and, as Alice Faye said, "The deck was stacked against us." Once many reached the top they disliked, resented the price they had paid. It was hard work, six days a week, and their lives were not their own. Ann Rutherford put it succinctly, "We were really like slaves. You were chattels of the studios." The actors were forced to do whatever the studios told them to do or they were suspended. Thus, one saw Jimmy Stewart and Joan Crawford trying to teeter around in ice skates in an ice follies movie.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Movie Lore that's Fun to Read 10 Dec 2010
Jeanine Basinger is that rare Hollywood historian who combines a unique, refreshing style with authentic research. My favorite chapter is the one on Lana Turner.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Quite monotonous for me... 15 Sep 2014
By Michael
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really didn't enjoy this book, although I have a great interest in old Hollywood and have read countless other books on the subject. I find the authors writing style boring and not very engaging. Despite the fact that I adore the subject, it really frustrated me at how repetitive it was. Why feature so many stars careers and discoveries that are virtually the same?
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By Bill
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I loved the information on the Golden age of Hollywood, but it's stuff that is already out there in in depth biographies of many that are mentioned in the Star Machine, fascinating facts and figures of who was the top actor/actresses of their era's. A good book that is worth buying if you are a fan of the great actors of the golden age.
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