This is a good week to pick up Vanity Fair’s Tales of Hollywood, a modestly priced Penguin paperback anthology of VF’s exhaustive film reportage over the years. There are two pieces by me in it, and further articles from more credible professionals like James Wolcott and Peter Biskind. And look, Richard Schickel raved over the book in the L.A. Times!
My two articles are pieces I spent a good deal of the late 1990s reporting, one on the making of Cleopatra–still the most expensive movie ever produced, in dollars adjusted for inflation–and another on the making, and tragic unmaking, of Orson Welles’s second film, The Magnificent Ambersons. I’m delighted that Mr. Graydon Carter chose to anthologize these two articles, because I have received lots of e-mails asking where these articles can be found, and I’ve been appallingly delinquent in archiving my own back catalogue on this Web site. The Ambersons article isn’t up, and the Cleopatra one, I’ve noticed to my consternation, is missing its ending paragraphs on this site.
So pick up Vanity Fair’s Tales of Hollywood to get the proper reading experience. I enjoyed doing those pieces, interviewing a lot of people who have since passed on (Hume Cronyn, Carroll O’Connor, Robert Wise, to name a few) and familiarizing myself with the perilous, hairpin-turn roads of the Hollywood Hills, where midlevel midcentury film people apparently went to die.