The Studio

The StudioI feel like it probably would ve been interesting when it was originally published, when people had at least seen movies like Dr Doolittle and The Boston Strangler or whatever else was going on at the time Reading it now it feels a little time capsuley, but not in a good way I can t really relate to any of the characters and it s not like I don t think the stories couldn t be told better because Mark Harris did it splendidly in Pictures at a Revolution it justI don t know I was underwhelmed. John Gregory Dunne s 1969 book The Studio is a fascinating achievement in writing about the movies Dunne asked for, and was granted, full access to the Twentieth Century Fox studio for a year Dunne shows the reader many vignettes, but the main plotline that we follow in The Studio is the publicity campaign for Doctor Dolittle, the 1967 musical starring Rex Harrison as the doctor who can talk to the animals Fox was hoping that Dolittle would follow the path of the studio s earlier musical success, The Sound of Music Unfortunately for Fox, Dolittle flopped, grossing just 9 million, which was half of its swollen 18 million budget 18 million in 1967 dollars is about 130 million in 2015 dollars Throughout The Studio a certain desperation creeps in, as everyone is fervently hoping that Doctor Dolittle will become a huge hit What they should have spent time worrying about was whether or not it was a good movie It wasn t Fox president Darryl F Zanuck told Dunne, We ve got 50 million tied up in these three musicals, Dolittle, Star , and Hello, Dolly , and quite frankly, if we hadn t made such an enormous success with The Sound of Music, I d be petrified p.240 1 Zanuck should have been petrified, as all three of those movies lost a lot of money for Fox Where Lilian Ross book Picture featured a father and son like relationship between MGM executives Louis B Mayer and Dore Schary, The Studio features an actual father and son relationship between Darryl F Zanuck, president of Fox, and Richard D Zanuck, executive vice president of Fox Darryl had been ousted as president of Fox in 1956, and then returned in 1962 to save the studio, as it was sinking under the massive cost overruns on Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton The Sound of Music had made Fox flush once again, but the failures of the massive musicals that followed in its wake led to Darryl firing Richard in 1970 The next year Darryl Zanuck was fired by the Fox board of directors, thus ending the career of the last of the great movie moguls Richard Zanuck went on to a very successful career as an independent producer, producing huge hits like The Sting, Jaws, Cocoon, Driving Miss Daisy, and eventually entering into a very successful partnership with director Tim Burton The Studio features cameos from stars like Tony Curtis, Julie Andrews, Charlton Heston, and Gene Kelly, but Dunne doesn t dish any dirt on them Dunne doesn t really get close enough to any of the stars to get a sense of their personalities Although I did learn that Gene Kelly wore a toupee, which really surprised me Of course, it took me a long time to figure out that Liberace wore a toupee too, so I guess I m easily fooled Dunne s book owes a debt to Lillian Ross 1952 book Picture, and in the 1997 introduction to The Studio Dunne acknowledges her influence, and says that Picture, The Studio, and Julie Salamon s The Devil s Candy are the three best books written by outsiders about how Hollywood movies are made An interesting fact is that Reggie Callow, an assistant director, appears in both Picture and The Studio, as he was the assistant director for The Red Badge of Courage, the making of which is chronicled in Picture, and 1968 s Star In the 1985 foreword to the book, Dunne admits that once he finished The Studio, he didn t read it for ten years He didn t read it in galleys, and he didn t read it in manuscript form Because of this, I m blaming Dunne, and a very lackadaisical proofreading team, for the small errors that should not have made it into the book Quotation marks open but never close, or they open twice And, most egregiously of all, on page 185 Minneapolis is referred to as a capital of Minnesota, when the capital is actually Saint Paul For a Minnesotan and Saint Paul resident such as myself, this counts as heresy These small errors should have been corrected over the years, there s no reason for the 1998 edition of a book that was originally published in 1969 to still be plagued by a sloppy proof job.But, those quibbles aside, The Studio is an excellent look at the craziness of a major Hollywood studio at a time of great transition in the movies. In , John Gregory Dunne Asked For Unlimited Access To The Inner Workings Of Twentieth Century Fox Miraculously, He Got It For One Year Dunne Went Everywhere There Was To Go And Talked To Everyone Worth Talking To Within The Studio He Tracked Every Step Of The Creation Of Pictures Like Dr Dolittle, Planet Of The Apes, And The Boston Strangler The Result Is A Work Of Reportage That, Thirty Years Later, May Still Be Our Most Minutely Observed And Therefore Most Uproariously Funny Portrait Of The Motion Picture BusinessWhether He Is Recounting A Showdown Between Fox S Studio Head And Two Suave Shark Like Agents, Watching A Producer S Girlfriend Steal A Silver Plate From A Restaurant, Or Shielding His Eyes Against The Glare Of A Hollywood Premiere Where The Guests Include A Chimp In A White Tie And Tails, Dunne Captures His Subject In All Its Showmanship, Savvy, Vulgarity, And Hype Not Since F Scott Fitzgerald And Nathanael West Has Anyone Done Hollywood Better Reads As Racily As A Novel Dunne Has A Novelist S Ear For Speech And Eye For Revealing DetailAnyone Who Has Tiptoed Along Those Corridors Of Power Is Bound To Say That Dunne S Impressionism Rings True Los Angeles Times I wanted to read a book by Joan Didion s husband, and this one stood out to me among everything that he d written The idea one year behind the scenes at 20th Century Fox Studios was intriguing, and it really delivered. John Gregory Dunne s memorized eyewitness account of a year behind the scenes of Twentieth Century Fox reads like the most interesting boring office job you ve ever heard of, involving lobster costume problems negotiations with actors agents over contracts, during which time no one s really willing to put all their cards on the table all hands on decks patience required while the shot needs lining up againand other assorted mini nightmares Somehow it s a hoot and a holler and weirder and normal than you d ve expected Put that in your pipe and smoke it Still, though for all the trenchant criticism plaudits plastered on this work, one can t help coming away, in these days, with a lingering sense of sweetness, of na vet , of less than utterly ruthless calculation compared to the excesses spawned by the studios in the 80s and beyond as the working joes in doubtless Leave it to Beaver and Dragnet suits try to convince themselves and each other that with Rex Harrison as Dr Doolittle say , and with LPs send hand over fist to record stores to promote the soundtrack say , and with the right Joey Bishop show premiere say , butts will be gotten in seats Come, either way, as cynic or as gleeful gawker You ll get an eyeful Dunne s prose style is so pared down and unobtrusive you ll feel like you ve got a front row seat the working definition of he makes it look easy. Time capsule document from the mid sixties, years where the studios found themselves in long slow eclipse Donne amiably taps the bones and kicks at the ashes of the mastodons, as the concept of big movie studio morphs in the background Seems like Donne was lucky in the sense that 2oth Century Fox chose to green light some super losers in the year that the book covers In the later part of the sixties it just seems incredible that studio heads would bankroll flatliner vehicles like Star , Hello Dolly, or the genuinely insipid Dr Doolittle, but they did, and did so merrily, with conviction And they follow it up with all the old wisecracking wisdom of the previous era This was still the time in the Movies where studio bosses could change the adorable Daughter character to a Chimp, and move locale from Western to Noir all the while congratulating themselves on their feel for the market High jinks ensue, bottom line protected, box office continues to shrink mysteriously By 67 68, the years of the book, huge inflated movies had crashed and burned The Longest Day and Cleopatra were large scale disaster movies for the studios, and somehow or other, nobody in Hollywood saw 67 s Summer Of Love as any kind of indicator Keenly oblivious to actual youth culture, Fox mounted The Sound Of Music to please the family market and scored big Their success with that film pointed the way to some really bad choices, and this is where Donne arrives Near total disregard for the intelligence of the audience and a tone deaf misunderstanding of the times and the changes happening in cinema are the plot of the book Curiously, Mr Donne indulges in no critical appraisal of the events, saving for the end a glimmer of understanding At the premiere of Doolittle, celebrities and power brokers alike declare, with astonishing, breathless consensus, that the movie is just wonderful Seems that Donne is willing to risk a little in showing the echo chamber happy talk strategies of the PR machine, but curiously again, there is no consideration given that most of the movies worked up during the course of the book are overblown fiascos even before publicity began Likely that Donne just wanted to be able to still get his table at Chasen s, and do lunch in Olde Hollywood style, after the book was published Good introduction to a kind of ancient civilization, a once and never again land where the choice of Pastrami versus Corned Beef may be as critical as Julie Andrews versus Barbra Streisand Majors pull no boffo returns on warblers, but a quick read a couple o yucks. In the late 1960s, author Dunne was given unlimited access to Twentieth Century Fox For a whole year, he roamed the studio, talking with everybody from boss Darryl Zanuck and the key executives, producers, and directors, all the way down through the stars to the lowliest bit player and members of the crew, continuously observing the goings on around him in the minutest detail The result is this book Its smooth narrative prose reads like a story, but it s not a novel a docudrama fly on the wall expos of the inner workings of Hollywood We learn what goes on when negotiating in offices, as the actors are being filmed, in previews, at studio parties, and on opening nights It s funny, it s weird, and above all, it s insightful The Golden Era of Hollywood had ended, and the new, modern era was just beginning Studios were still finding their feet, and Fox had been recently rescued from near bankruptcy after Cleopatra had almost killed it a few years earlier While the book obviously leaves out a lot and treats its subjects with kid gloves, only glossing over the less savoury aspects of anybody s character, the book is quite entertaining, and essential reading for anybody who wants to work in movies or is interested in the history of the motion picture industry. Really a 3.5, because he is an amusing writer, but in general the book fails because when you re constructing something by presenting snippets of events, written down as they happened with no overt editorial commentary and very minimal surreptitious commentary you know, pointed word choices and all that to really make something special you need to construct them so that the reader is guided somewhere, to some feeling or idea That just didn t happen for me with The Studio I enjoyed all the little pieces but never saw them build to something. W zesz ym tygodniu zupe nie nie by o mnie w Warszawie, bo by am w Twentieth Century Fox w latach sze dziesi tych Zdolno obserwacji Dunne a jest nie z tego wiata, a liczba celnych uwag wydaje si nie ko czy Kino nie jest moj pasj , ale Dunne by w stanie mnie zaczarowa i opowiedzie historie wszystkich wspomnianych w The Studio film w tak, e obejrz ka dy nawet Dr Dolittle. This book is rather dated now I work at a movie studio so I found it fascinating how things were run 50 years ago Boy have times changed Things are in some ways exactly the same but in ways totally different It is an interesting chronicle on life on the Fox lot The only drawback, in my opinion, is that the author would touch on something interesting and then move on to something else and never come back to it I wanted to know what happened in a few instances and never found out Other than that, I found most of it riveting

John Gregory Dunne was an American novelist, screenwriter and literary critic.He was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and was a younger brother of author Dominick Dunne He suffered from a severe stutter and took up writing to express himself Eventually he learned to speak normally by observing others He graduated from Princeton University in 1954 and worked as a journalist for Time magazine He m

❮BOOKS❯ ⚣ The Studio Author John Gregory Dunne –
  • Paperback
  • 272 pages
  • The Studio
  • John Gregory Dunne
  • English
  • 03 February 2019
  • 9780375700088

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