Hollywood: The Oral History

Price: $51.99 $7.99

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
November 2022
28 hours 49 minutes
The real story of Hollywood as told by such luminaries as Steven Spielberg, Frank Capra, Katharine Hepburn, Meryl Streep, Harold Lloyd, and nearly four hundred others, assembled from the American Film Institute’s treasure trove of interviews, reveals a fresh history of the American movie industry from its beginnings to today. 

From the archives of the American Film Institute comes a unique picture of what it was like to work in Hollywood from its beginnings to its present day. Gleaned from nearly three thousand interviews, involving four hundred voices from the industry, Hollywood: The Oral History, lets a reader “listen in” on candid remarks from the biggest names in front of the camera—Bette Davis, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Harold Lloyd—to the biggest behind it—Frank Capra, Steven Spielberg, Alfred Hitchcock, Jordan Peele, as well as the lesser known individuals that shaped what was heard and seen on screen: musicians, costumers, art directors, cinematographers, writers, sound men, editors, make-up artists, and even script timers, messengers, and publicists. The result is like a conversation among the gods and goddesses of film: lively, funny, insightful, historically accurate and, for the first time, authentically honest in its portrait of Hollywood. It’s the insider’s story. 

Legendary film scholar Jeanine Basinger and New York Times bestselling author Sam Wasson, both acclaimed storytellers in their own right, have undertaken the monumental task of digesting these tens of thousands of hours of talk and weaving it into a definitive portrait of workaday Hollywood.   

Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook.
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Jim B.

Brilliant, informative book nearly ruined by the male narrator’s mind-boggling inability to pronounce names correctly. One doesn’t have to be a master of film history to know that Oscar-winning actor Charles Laughton ((Law-tun) shouldn’t be pronounced (Low-as-in-cow tun) and then pronounced (Loff-tun) a few minutes later. People reading this book probably already know David Niven’s and Joel McCrea’s and Carole Lombard’s very famous names, and hearing them called Nye-vin and Mac-Cree and Lum-BARD yanks the listener right out of the narrative. Yet this reader does this possibly half the time! I’ve narrated several books myself and was always given a pronunciation guide and always investigated any name I wasn’t certain of. Additionally, the male narrator gives slight ethnic accents to people whose names have ethnic origins, even if the real person had no such accent. Listening to this narrator for most of the book’s 28+ hours was both a painful distraction and a guessing game as to whose name would be screwed up next. The female narrator made no pronunciation errors that I caught, but her voice was rather strident and eventually unpleasant after so many hours. The book is so good, so richly revealing that HarperCollins might do very well to have it reread by people who grasp the very specific tools needed for a book like this. Also, these are transcripts from conversations, not revised and rewritten narratives. The male narrator does not seem to have the knack for recreating conversational speech. Even the most casual of remarks are read as if they’re from the King James Bible, and his pauses are inappropriate to the meaning and verisimilitude of the quotes he’s reading. Very disappointing reading of a fantastic text.

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