This book was recommended to me back in film school about five years ago, and I finally got around to reading it recently. It’s the definitive guide to learning about the beginning of the film industry, and covers all the major players of the time. The actors, directors, studios, films, you name, it’s in here. It’s also very well written, so it’s not like some film history books which are just boooooorrrring. This one is actually fun to read. I got mine used on Amazon for next to nothing. See what Jenny Lerew thinks here. Here’s one of my favorite parts about the legendary Greta Garbo:
“On the other hand, in Europe, Garbo was queen. Over there, Garbo was first, second, third, and fourth. In 1942, MGM made a picture called Two-Faced Woman, but it wasn’t rated very highly. Number one, that scared Garbo. Number two, the war started, the European market was virtually finished, and her American takings fell.
Under the terms of her contract, MGM were obliged to pay her whether they made another picture or not – win, lose, or draw. The company couldn’t afford to make another Garbo film without the vital European market, and she understood the situation. She went to Mr. Mayer and released him from the contract for two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. She never took a nickel of the rest of the money she was entitled to under the contract. Is there a motion picture star in the world who would do that? I wouldn’t. But that’s Garbo…”
– Clarence Brown