The Star Machine (Vintage Vintage) Paperback – 1 Jul 2009
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"Startling. . . . An enormous new book of star lore . . . Basinger nestles with almost delicious comfort into the intimate procedures of star manufacture."
--"The New Yorker"
"Luxurious, often delicious. . . . Ms. Basinger tells her story with her customary verve and sass-she's the Rosalind Russell of film historians."
--"The New York Observer"
"Entertaining and informative. . . . [Basinger], whose enthusiasm for movies is reflected on every page, has a deft way of encapsulating the kernel of an actor's attraction."
"Engaging. . . . Smart, deeply researched but also chatty and fast-flowing. . . . Basinger's study of the studios' relentless spin control makes an instructive prism through which to view long skeins of Hollywood film history."
--"Los Angeles Times"
Startling. . . . An enormous new book of star lore . . . Basinger nestles with almost delicious comfort into the intimate procedures of star manufacture.
The New Yorker
Luxurious, often delicious. . . . Ms. Basinger tells her story with her customary verve and sass-she's the Rosalind Russell of film historians.
The New York Observer
Entertaining and informative. . . . [Basinger], whose enthusiasm for movies is reflected on every page, has a deft way of encapsulating the kernel of an actor's attraction.
Engaging. . . . Smart, deeply researched but also chatty and fast-flowing. . . . Basinger's study of the studios' relentless spin control makes an instructive prism through which to view long skeins of Hollywood film history.
Los Angeles Times"
About the Author
Jeanine Basinger is the chair of film studies at Wesleyan University and the curator of the cinema archives there. She has written nine other books on film, including A Woman's View: How Hollywood Spoke to Women 1930 1960; Silent Stars, winner of the William K. Everson Award for Film History; The World War II Combat Film: Anatomy of a Genre; and American Cinema: 100 Years of Filmmaking, the companion book for a ten-part PBS series. She lives with her husband in Middletown, Connecticut."
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Top customer reviews
If you have ever fantasised about being a movie-star -this is the book for you! Ms Basinger gives you the facts about the Star Machine, and she gives you them straight. Those famous 'Seven Year Contracts'?- they were complete serfdom! (in exchange for money and a variable amount of fame). You were up by 5a.m. every morning except Sunday to be at the studio by 6, (NO ONE was late- said Joan Crawford) and you were on your feet all day waiting to obey orders.
You had no choice about anything and had to do as you were told -most notably in the roles you were ordered to play. Almost all "stars", even the biggest, were like chattels at the disposal of the Studio bosses, who ruled with a rod of iron.
Costume fittings, instruction of all kinds, script meetings, silly photo stunts, faked interviews, all day standing and waiting for a 30-second take on-set -and no sitting-down for fear of creasing your clothes. Your name and your looks were "improved" whether you liked it or not. And at the end of the day you managed to get home by 8pm if you were lucky -SIX days a week. Partying? If you had any sense, forget it!
The studios knew that the glamour of Stars sold theatre tickets, and so they cultivated 'stardom', and searched endlessly for new stars. It was maddening for the management that they could never work out what the magic 'Ingredient X' was that made a performer into a star, but they tried hard enough! Sometimes it all went very wrong, and a fortune was spent on promoting a new "star" -only to find that the public weren't interested. Basinger has fun looking at examples of when the 'Star Machine' malfunctioned, including the most notorious one: Sam Goldwyn's howling mistake with Anna Sten.
Much of this book is funny, and the author's frequently priceless comments and quotes will have you giggling all the way to the Gaumont, ("I'm in this strictly for the laughs!"- Victor Mature after a role blowing-up bridges.)
In the course of the book Basinger looks at the Hollywood careers of a clutch of well-known stars, such as Errol Flynn and Lana "Cleavage & Catastrophe" Turner. She even has interesting things to say about people like Deanna Durbin. Sometimes, the vast amount of comment Ms Basinger gives us is almost too much to absorb (and some stars are more fascinating than others) -but there is great deal of very interesting stuff here.
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