I am about 20 pages away from finishing this book; and I love it! I am usually more into fiction, but I read a rave review of this on Salon.com a few months ago, and then saw it shortly after on a bargain table at Borders for $3.00. SOLD.
It is the story of the five best-picture nominees for the 1967 Oscars: Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, and Doctor Doolittle (??!!). My love of this book is not the direct result of loving all these movies to death. I have seen only three of the five. I saw The Graduate when I was in college after a snobby acquaintance made fun of me at a party for never having seen it (I loved it). I saw Guess Who's Coming to Dinner on AMC on a random Saturday when I didn't feel like leaving the house (meh, it was okay). Bonnie and Clyde is one of my Dad's favorite movies, so naturally he showed it to my brother and I despite content that was probably not appropriate for a seven and ten year old (I liked the movie then, and still like it now). I have never seen Doctor Doolittle (I didn't like kiddy movies when I was little), nor have I seen In the Heat of the Night (nor have I ever sat through an entire episode of the tv spinoff that was ever-present on cable reruns during my middle school and high school years).
So since I wasn't necessarily in love with all five of the movies, the book grabbed me for other reasons. If I was discussing this in a class or book club, and was trying to impress people, I would say that i love it because it weaves in all these really interesting larger social changes (civil rights protests, race riots, vietnam, generational gaps as the baby boomers get older). But the main reason that I love this book, is because it is chock full of vintage celebrity gossip!
I love celebrity gossip. I have heard all the reasons why I should loathe celebrity gossip (waste of time, invasion of privacy, vapid nonsense blah blah blah), and I don't care. I get such a kick out of thinking of all these people hooking up with each other, dating so-and-so's ex, awkwardly running into each other at award shows. . .Though I would like to qualify, I like gossip about actors (and authors and directors) but am disturbed by the downturn in celebrity gossip at the hands of the twitterati (tila tequila, speidi, etc). So this vintage gossip is like GOLD. It is like celebrity gossip that has been elevated to "film history." I won't spoil it for you if you think you might read this book, but I 'll give you a few of my favorite nuggets as a preview. .
1. Rex Harrison (Dr. Dolittle, also famous for My Fair Lady) was a belligerent drunk. And his wife, Rachel Roberts (also an actor, though I don't know her from any particular movie) was crazy! She would often start barking when she got too drunk (!). This is so awesomely awesome to me because he is always so uptight and proper on screen. My favorite story in the book: While filming Dolittle, they go to a party with a bunch of renowned actors (Jimmy Stewart!). They get super wasted, and Harrison makes loud jokes to the whole crowd about his penis, while his drunk wife does HANDSTANDS, and isn't wearing any "undergarments." I mean, how can you not just get tickled pink by thinking about these old school holliwood types in the prequel to the Jersey Shore!?
2. There are so many cool interconnections (some of which I already knew about, but still love to hear about). For example, Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall, and Dustin Hoffman were all close friends and roomed together before any of them had paying acting jobs. I LOVE thinking about how these guys were friends before any of them made it big. And, Warren Beatty is Shirley Maclean's brother. I think I might have heard this before, but still so intrigued by this.
3. Spencer Tracy and Kathryn Hepburn were probably each-others' beards! Kathryn definitely had relationships with other women, and Spencer maybe had relationships with other men, but they stayed companions and friends, and were romantically involved, all while Spencer was married to another woman (and was catholic, and refused to get a divorce to his wife). When he got really sick, his wife would stay with him all day in the hospital, and Hepburn would show up as soon as she left to stay all night- and they never crossed paths!
This is so so so much better than Heidi and her 10 plastic surgeries!