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City of Nets: A Portrait of Hollywood in the 1940's Paperback – 17 Apr 1997

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Paperback, 17 Apr 1997
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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Reprint edition (17 April 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520209494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520209497
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,153,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


""City of Nets offers a distinctly Brechtian vision of Hollywood. . . . By mixing enjoyable gossip about the stars' personal lives and behind-the-scenes maneuverings with a shrewd look at the film world's often unsavory industrial underpinnings, Friedrich gives us a much clearer understanding of Hollywood's reciprocal relationship with American reality."--Wendy Smith, "Village Voice

From the Back Cover

This dazzling story of Hollywood during the 1940s is a social and cultural history of the movie capital's golden age. Its cast includes actors, writers, musicians and composers, producers and directors, racketeers and labor leaders, journalists and politicians in the turbulent decade from World War II to Korea.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A wonderful book about a time in Hollwood seldom discussed but of enormous influence especially to Baby boomers and their parents, much of classic hollywood legend was created in these years and Otto Friedrich presents it very well, an essential read for lovers of American film.
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By A Customer on 27 Jun. 2001
Format: Paperback
If you interested in the movies in any way, this book is a must. Its a long read, but every chapter is a gem. I can't recommend this enough. I bought my copy years ago and still dip into it on a regular basis. Worth every penny and more.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Brilliant portrayal of Hollywood through the 1940s. Using so many different subject matters to paint a portrait of the era. Writing is outstanding and often very funny . Highly Highly Recommended!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very interesting secondhand book on Hollywood films.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x91c1548c) out of 5 stars 28 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91c30024) out of 5 stars A Snapshot of a Fascinating Decade 27 Dec. 2001
By William Hare - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is one of the reasons why I became a devoted reader of Otto Friedrich's work. Two others were his excellent series in Time about Berlin in the rise of Hitler along with "Going Crazy," a brilliant study of psychoanalysis with analyses of some interesting case histories of individuals who were treated for psychiatric difficulties. "City of Nets" explores the fabled city of lights and dreams during one of its most memorable decades. In addition to receiving all kinds of interesting tidbits about Rita Hayworth's tempestuous marriage to Orson Welles and Robert Mitchum's time spent in a California honor farm on a marijuana possession charge that would ultimately be expunged, Friedrich also provides the broader picture of a town thrown into turmoil and confusion during the period following the war.
Friedrich gives a brilliant account of the tragic blacklist period. As one who has studied this period closely as a historian, I was impressed by the breadth of the author's scope as a researcher. German playwright Bertolt Brecht is colorfully displayed. His offbeat intelligence and unconventional demeanor completely astounded House Un-American Activities Committee members as they sought to interrogate him. Long after the author of "Mother Courage", "Galileo" and many other plays had returned to his native East Germany, committee members and others were still trying to figure him out. Friedrich relates the incident when Charles Laughton threw a wild tantrum at the Coronet Theater as he was rehearsing for the Los Angeles premiere of Brecht's "Galileo." Another interesting character sketch provided by Friedrich is that of Austrian emigre Billy Wilder, who fled Hitler's Germany and became a major figure in films, first as a writer, then as a director-writer.
The anecdotes and richness of the character portraits transpose the reader back to Hollywood in the forties. As revealed, it was a truly fascinating, wildly unpredictable place during a pivotal period of American history.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91c30078) out of 5 stars Thorough and Entertaining 11 Feb. 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
I think I've read City of Nets 4 times since I got it. The main reason is because it's so packed with details and fascinating information that I am always finding something I missed or had forgotten in the flood of knowledge. Some might see that as a detraction, but I think it speaks to how well the author did his homework.
One of the great appeals in this book is in its truth and how it correctly points out that 1940's Hollywood, which we think we know so well from legend and the films, was actually much much more. As the book shows, Los Angeles was not only the filmmaking capital of the world, but quite possibly the center of business, classical music, and literature. It was one of those times and places when most things that were "great" were all lumped together. Throw that against a backdrop of World War II and the ensuing Cold War, and you have a narrative that is almost too good to be true.
Really a great read, many times over.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x928cfa74) out of 5 stars The best book on Hollywood in the 40's 5 Dec. 2001
By John Guzlowski - Published on
Format: Paperback
Of the books I've read about the golden age of Hollywood, this is easily the best. Friedrich combines brief biographies of the great directors, actors, and producers of the period along with lesser known stars to give a thorough picture of the film culture of the period. What is especially interesting is his analysis of the role refugees from Nazi oppression played in creating and not creating some of the great films of the 40's.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91c30300) out of 5 stars Hollywood Never Had a Better Historian 19 Feb. 2001
By Ricky Hunter - Published on
Format: Paperback
Otto Friedrich's City of Nets (A Portrait of Hollywood in the 1940's) is as evocative a portrait of a time and place as one could hope for. The book travels through more than film history (much, much more) as the reader explores, dragged by the wonderful writing of the author, crime, unions, politics, communism, war, racisim and a host of other isms. This book is about the parts of America that float to the surface of the pool of churning, boiling water that is Hollywood and it is not always a pretty grouping of flotsam and jetsam. The author captures the personality of the characters in this soapy drama with beautiful ease and, often, humour. It was a joy from beginning to end and deserves far more than five stars. A book about Hollywood for those who care about history and do not see a light shining on some very gloomy corners of history.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91c30480) out of 5 stars a compendium 8 Jun. 2014
By Douglas McKeown - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Nothing new here, unless you've never read about Hollywood. The author himself says as much upfront. He also reminds us that most of the famous anecdotes come in many different versions, because these showbiz types are tall-tale-tellers, after all. But then if he relates two of them, it is hard to know which is the more likely. In other words, he is not doing any real investigation for us. Okay, so we know what we're getting: no "new" interviews with surviving Hollywood people, no new and revealing research. That makes this book less compelling by far, but at least we're getting a sweeping survey of the decade's moviemaking in one tome, right? Sort of. I should point out there are some small errors of fact, such as details of what actually appears on the screen (!). The book was published before the explosion of restored films on VHS and DVD, so the author may have had to rely on memory. Not that facts matter in Hollywood.

Anyway, if you crave entertainment in the form of a highly readable "sort of" history of a crazy but fascinating time and place, this book will serve.
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