Synopses & Reviews
From one of our leading film authorities, a rich, penetrating, amusing plum pudding of a book about the golden age of movies, full of Hollywood lore, anecdotes, and analysis.
Jeanine Basinger gives us an immensely entertaining look into the "star machine," examining how, at the height of the studio system, from the 1930s to the 1950s, the studios worked to manufacture star actors and actresses. With revelatory insights and delightful asides, she shows us how the machine worked when it worked, how it failed when it didn't, and how irrelevant it could sometimes be. She gives us the "human factor," 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 Loretta Young, Errol Flynn, Irene Dunne, Deanna Durbin. She anatomizes their careers, showing how their fame happened, and what happened to them as a result. (Both Lana Turner and Errol Flynn, for instance, were involved in notorious court cases.) In her trenchantly observed conclusion, she explains what has become of the star machine and why the studios’ practice of "making" stars is no longer relevant.
Deeply engrossing, full of energy, wit, and wisdom, The Star Machine is destined to become an invaluable part of the film canon.
"Ms. Basinger...ingeniously picks apart the gears and levers of the machine, analyzing the careers of a handful of stars whose ups and downs illustrate the studio system at its smooth-functioning best, or reveal its hidden inefficiencies." William Grimes, New York Times
"The Star Machine is studded throughout with scores of photographs....[T]he prose is agreeably nonacademic." Chicago Sun-Times
"Ms. Basinger is one of the most down-to-earth film historians writing today, as well as one of the most readable." Dallas Morning News
A leading film authority presents a rich, penetrating, amusing plum pudding of a book about the golden age of movies, full of Hollywood lore, anecdotes, and analysis.
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.