City of Nets: A Portrait of Hollywood in the 1940's Paperback – 17 Apr 1997
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""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.See all Product Description
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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.
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.
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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