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The Whole Equation: A History of Hollywood [Paperback]

David Thomson
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: 13.99
Price: 10.49 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

2 Feb 2006
A book that sees Hollywood as an idea, a trick, a religion even that swept the world, a book that knows what the bosses did, and why and how, but which also feels the impact on the mass audiences in the dark auditoriums. There isn't a book that explains - even at a basic level - how the business, the money, of pictures operates. THE WHOLE EQUATION takes the history and describes the grand panorama so that the reader knows how he or she fitted in, along with Bogart, the Marx Brothers and Daryl Zanuck. The business is the neglected aspect of the story, neglected because its truths threaten the alleged magic, the romance of the movies. Yet, the money is the true sexual secret of Hollywood, and David Thomson leaves the reader quite clear, that amid all the hype and pretension, we should always 'follow the money'.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (2 Feb 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349117691
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349117690
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 195,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

English-American writer David Thomson was educated at Dulwich College and the London School of Film Technique. After seven years at Penguin Books, he became a Director of Film Studies at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire between 1977 and 1981. Perhaps best known for his magisterial Biographical Dictionary of Film, Thomson is a prolific writer on film including biographies of David O Selznick and Orson Welles, and two books on Hollywood: Beneath Mulholland: Thoughts on Hollywood and Its Ghosts and The Whole Equation: A History of Hollywood. Thomson lives in San Fransisco with his wife and two sons.

Product Description


A sprawling collection of hard-edged anecdotes. (SAINSBURY'S MAGAZINE)

Tracing movie from birth to, perhaps, a death of sorts at the hands of new technology, he conjures more thrills and insight in his elegant, melliflous style and staggering knowledge, than almost any modern film you care to mention. Idiosyncratic, for sur (TOTAL FILM)

Essential. (NEW STATESMAN)

From the patron saint of those seduced by the silver light, the whole truth, and a lot more besides. Peerless. (UNCUT)

Book Description

* 'A History of Hollywood, Its Money and Dreams - and what it did to us

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant exploration of Hollywood... 17 May 2006
By Jason Parkes #1 HALL OF FAME
Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase
David Thomson is probably the greatest film critic alive, and 'The Whole Equation: A History of Hollywood' is an absolute masterpiece. Thomson is best known for the key film reference book 'The New Biographical Dictionary of Film' alongside his regular contributions to newspapers such as The Independent on Sunday. The front pages to this paperback edition of Thomson's 2005 book list a detailed oeuvre including such titles as 'Rosebud: The Story of Orson Welles', 'In Nevada: The Land, the People, God, and Chance', 'Beneath Mulholland: Thoughts on Hollywood and Its Ghosts' and 'Showman: The Life of David O Selznick.' Thomson's best work, 'Suspects' sadly remains out of print - like the aforementioned titles it taps into Hollywood, and like this book advances on ideas about California, such books as 'City of Quartz' or multiple writings from Joan Didion ('Slouching Towards Bethlehem') who is quoted several times here...

Thomson advances his history of Hollywood through the rubric of 'Chinatown' and its writer Robert Towne, with much reference to Hollywood box-office and production - which makes this book a companion to William Goldman's twin set 'Adventures in the Screen Trade' and 'Which Lie Did I Tell?' The 20-something chapters explore Hollywood and work as a history - though the book certainly is as 'provocative' as JG Ballard's cover-quote states - the fact the last 30 or so years are covered in just a few chapters sort of tells you how signifcant Thomson feels Hollywood is.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great history of the movies and America. 10 Sep 2005
By A Customer
This is a brilliant book of the history of Hollywood that has been seemingly ignored. The book takes us from the time that Griffiths early films were helping Mayer form the basis of his studio(and the whole studio system), through the golden age right up to the modern day. Well kind of, since Thompson doesn't concern himself with the exact details of how the business evolved. Rather he tries to imagine what Hollywood actually is and how such a thing could and does exist in the most powerful nation on earth(Where on earth has this paradox sprung fromwhere we enter the dark in order to see light). Of course in the process he describes the men(and women or to be more honest their women) who made the films, whether they be great directors, producers or studio bosses and the power play between them. Early on in the book Thompson recites the history of infamous film director Erich Von Stronheim as he tries to get his nine and a half hour cut of his film greed on screen and his battle with Thalberg head of MGM production. Both men have a certain yearning for films to be more than entertainment. Though only Thalberg understands more than simply the film but also the audience. Through the book Thompson looks controversially at other filmic concepts such as method acting and the impact that has had on film. Fundamentally to garner an answer to the fundamental question of whether art and business have ever existed side by side and more cynically if such a question can ever seriously be posed to such a vain and narcissistic industry. To Thompson understanding the question has only ever been in the minds of the most powerful men in the history of the business.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A different view 24 Nov 2012
By JLC2010
Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase
I found that I couldn't invest myself in this book which isn't the fault of the author at all. I realised that although I love books about Hollywood, I like ones that are more gossipy. However, saying that I did at times go "aaah" so that's why that happens, so I will read it again.
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