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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Catching Up on Reading : Otto Friedrich's CITY OF NETS (1987)

I don't know about you--I mean, I really don't--but if you're like me--and if you are, I feel for you, pal---and can't enough of Hollywood in its heyday, from 1939 ( the annus mirabilis of Gone with the Wind, Ninotchka, Wuthering Heights, The Wizard of OZ)  to 1950,  yet don't want to wade through four dozen books on the subject, get Otto Friedrich's City of Nets.  Basically, Otto's done the wading for you, selecting the choicest Tinsel-Townia, arranging them chronologically, and presenting them in a digestible, highly entertaining form.

My favorite anecdote ? David Selznick and Dimitri Tiomkin sparred over one of eleven themes Tiomkin had scored for Duel in the Sun (pp. 39-40). Which one ? Wouldn't you know, it was the orgasm theme.  Seriously.  I'm not kidding. Now would I kid you ? You'd think you'd know me better, after all these words.

I won't bore you explaining what the title, City of Nets, signifies.  No, I'll find some other way to do that.  Besides, if you're that curious,  you'll google it.  Anyway...

Is City of Nets original ? Not necessarily.  Is the author more than occasionally an insufferable intellectual snob ? Yup, but  there are a whole lot of writers on that bus (on which, obviously, anyone who uses annus mirabilis in a blog post has a prime seat).  Is O.F. repetitive ? Yes, but not obnoxiously so. Is that my last question ? For this posting, yes.

Overall, I'd recommend this panoramic view of Hollywood during years both glorious and inglorious as the ideal read for someone sitting in beach chair, sipping a mimosa, sifting sand between his toes and pretending not to ogle...

Never mind.

For an interesting review of this book (as opposed to the above, you're asking ?) check out Nicholas Lemann's piece, 'When Reagan Was Reagan'  in the New York Review of Books.