Best Old Hollywood Books of 2019
This is a tough one being there have been some great biographies released this year. I’m excluding the 50s blondes from this category being I already know I’m going to have a bias towards them. My vote is for Dutch Girl.
Dutch Girl (which I received an advance copy of but was unable to review in a timely manner due to a personal emergency) is by esteemed author Robert Matzen. Matzen expertly traces and tells the story of Audrey Hepburn’s young life with a major focus on the WWII years. Hepburn’s life has been done to death, but this book provides new insights on the making of an icon.
Best Monroe Biography:
Private Life of a Public Icon’s title basically says it all. Casillo attempts to shed the light on Monroe as a person, not an actress. While I don’t always agree with Casillo’s conclusions, the book is a must have for any Monroe book collector.
Best Blondes Biography:
When a Girl’s Beautiful by Richard Koper examines the life of a woman who has sadly been forgotten with time. Lansing never quite made it but she sure as hell tried. One thing I really enjoy about Koper’s work is how he continuously focuses on women who were always on the brink of stardom but continuously watched it slip out of their hands.
Best Picture Book:
This one is a tie being the books are so different from one another, I couldn’t pick just one.
John O’ Dowd is still attempting to give Barbara Payton the recognition she deserves, and this book is one for the ages. Containing over 1,000 photos, we see Payton’s rise and fall from superstardom. I recommend reading this book after his first Payton venture, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye: The Barbara Payton Story. You’ll need both to fully understand Payton both as a person and a performer.
Vieira has partnered with TCM to give us this lovely coffee table book focusing on the Pre-Code Era. Full of pictures, tidbits, and a keen selection of films to showcase when sin ruled the movies, Vieira gives the reader an illustrated film history in a large, lovely package.
Best Film Retrospective:
Jean Harlow’s films have not been properly evaluated in book-form since The Films of Jean Harlow in 1969. As much as I appreciate the Films of series, they have nothing on what Neibaur has presented us. Harlow’s tempestuous personal life frequently overshadows her professional accomplishments but Neibaur has righted this wrong in his excellent retrospective of the original Blonde Bombshell’s work.