PositiveThe Los Angeles TimesThe bad news is that it is indeed a novel, not exactly the tell-all I’ve been waiting for, but the good news is that despite Lane’s ingenious and very droll fictionalizations, it’s a tell-a-lot ... Lane turns out to be such a good writer, so funny and rapier sharp, that whether there is or isn’t doesn’t really matter. He’s made a fascinating character out of his perennially bored star, a pill-popping, foul-mouthed creature at once cynical and sentimental, self-loving and self-hating, with a lust for life and a self-destructive streak as wide as Santa Monica Boulevard ... The book is not without its longueurs. There isn’t much plot (no murders, explosions, car chases), and every so often, I was inclined to leave Charlie and not-Fisher to their own devices, but the narrative invariably picks up, and Charlie’s deepening relationship with not-Fisher anchors the story, creating a bond that humanizes them both ... With suicides and worse lurking behind every door, it’s a conventional happy ending to a story that could easily have turned ferociously ugly. It has straight-to-series written all over it (Netflix, take heed), but Lane earns his happily ever after. He gives us the best of both worlds, savage satire leavened with compassion. He exploits his relationship with his late employer but clearly cares deeply for her, and by the end, so do we. This reader was rarely bored.
MixedLos Angeles TimesRebello is a skilled writer and shrewd observer of Hollywood ... a maddeningly detailed account of the making of the movie. The story must have looked good on paper ... If gossip is your doll, Rebello has the hookup ... The trouble is, few of these anecdotes are attributed or footnoted, leaving it to the reader to guess at the sourcing from the skimpy bibliography. In fact, one of the weaknesses of the book is the complete absence of footnotes, which are essential for an aspiring tell-all like this one ... There’s plenty to feed on in Rebello’s account for the legions of Dolls fans for whom no detail about Susann, Duke, Tate, Merman and Garland is too bland, but when all is said and done, I can’t help wishing that he had spent the time, effort and intelligence he squandered investigating Valley of the Dolls on a picture that better deserved his attention. Taste is taste, and Susann lovers will disagree, but when people wonder how or why the so-called New Hollywood emerged from the sludge of the ’60s, they might consider a double bill of Valley of the Dolls and another movie released in 1967: Bonnie and Clyde.
PositiveLos Angeles Times... at once a lively tale of growing up lower-middle-class in Brooklyn; a gossipy account of scrambling up the comedy ladder from tabloid gag writer to Oscar winner; an aggrieved attack on Mia Farrow; and a look in the rear-view mirror at his long career with the aim of assessing its worth. (His verdict: not much.) If you’re 100% convinced that he molested his daughter Dylan, this book is not for you. But for those of us who admire that career and can still muster an interest in it, this memoir is for the most part a pleasure to read and entertaining company ... There are some tells in Allen’s account that are disquieting ... And yet you read on (or I did). You’d have to be a real sourpuss not to laugh at the fusillade of one-liners, two-liners, three-liners and so on ... If he’s tough on those supposedly near and dear, Allen is equally unsparing of others, no matter how powerful ... Apropos of Nothing is filled with vivid detail about the movies and the producers, directors and actors with whom Allen worked ... The first third of the book is a romp, but when Allen finally works his way up to Mia Farrow, out comes the heavy artillery ... On his life in exile and his genuine feelings about being ostracized, there is, unfortunately, almost nothing, though a general sense of resignation creeps in.
PositiveLos Angeles Times... fascinating and page-turning ... more than a mere biography of a landmark movie; it aims to flesh out the wild and woolly era that incubated it, roughly the late 1960s to the late 1970s, and in this it mostly succeeds ... Despite the well-trod terrain, Wasson has flushed so many fresh sources out of the woodwork, and dived so deeply into the voluminous existing interview material, that we barely notice the absence of Towne and Nicholson. Wasson proves himself an indefatigable researcher, plundering every imaginable scrap of relevant material from court record ... Wasson’s intensive research has allowed him to create a tapestry so dense with detail that the characters spring to life on the page. Occasionally, however, he forgets the meaning of \'enough,\' conflating information with trivia and drowning us in more facts than we could possibly want ... If this book has a flaw, it is Wasson’s intoxication with his subjects ... Nevertheless, in Chinatown, Wasson has found the perfect vehicle for convincingly demonstrating how personal filmmaking in a commercial context, albeit fueled by drugs and worse, enabled the New Hollywood to break the studio mold and reinvent the art of the feature film.
RaveLos Angeles TimesNussbaum’s essays are at once brainy and so well written that I found myself stopping not only to ponder the ideas but to savor her prose. She writes like an angel infected with the sportive spirit of a mischievous imp ... Nussbaum is fond of word play and startling paradoxes ... Her prose succeeds in creating an easy intimacy that feels like conversation. Reviewing is personal for her, and she’s present in the writing ... Agreeing or disagreeing with Nussbaum, however, is beside the point. I Like To Watch is a must-read for everyone obsessed with the relationship between politics and American culture.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewIsenberg gives us the soup-to-nuts on Casablanca, dutifully making his way through script, casting, production and reception, to the inevitable squabbling over credit, all the while trying to account for its enduring popularity ... Casablanca fans will find it to be a treasure trove of facts and anecdotes.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review\"Although much of Frankel’s material is familiar, the blacklist is a gift that keeps on giving. There always seems to be something new to chew on, in this case the transcripts of HUAC’s secret executive sessions. Besides, it’s a story that bears retelling because Hollywood, not to mention the rest of the country, is haunted by ghosts that won’t go away (witness Newt Gingrich’s recent call for a resurrection of HUAC, now to be wielded against ISIS, not Communists) ... Surprisingly, it is Gary Cooper, a card-carrying conservative, who emerges as one of the few heroes of this story. Called before HUAC in the middle of production, Foreman gave his star the opportunity to leave the picture — guilt by association was de rigueur in those days — but Cooper refused ... Frankel narrates this story well. He has a sure ear for the telling anecdote, and a good eye for detail. (Parnell Thomas chaired the HUAC hearings sitting on a phone book covered by a red cushion to compensate for his diminutive stature.) The era has been labeled \'the plague years,\' but Frankel is forgiving of those caught up in its tangle of principle and expediency, courage and cowardice. He adopts the verdict of Dalton Trumbo, another of the Unfriendly Ten: \'There were only victims.\' ”