Thursday, August 14, 2014

MGM Hollywood's Greatest Backlot - A Book Review


Authors Stevens Bingen, Stephen X. Sylvester and Michael Troyan have collaborated to create this fascinating look at one of the biggest and busiest sets in Hollywood. MGM: Hollywood's Greatest Backlot is chock full of behind-the-scenes photographs that vividly bring to life the construction and workings on the sound stages and outdoor sets where Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer produced many of their greatest films. Disregard its misleading title because this book covers the entire studio, building by building within its 312 pages, including the Makeup, Sound, Art, Research Departments...even the famous Little Red Schoolhouse. Each department/set is conveniently grouped within sections labeled by the name of one of the four lots. 


The Jeer : Some of the images are pixelated screenshots and although an entertaining read, it may not hold the attention of the casual film historian unless they have an interest in art direction and set design ( who doesn't? ). 

The Cheer : Packed full with wonderful images of the sets in a hefty 11x9 inch size format, it makes for a great coffee table book. It has an easy to read layout and also features a marvelous appendix listing the films shot on the various backlots. 

The Skinny: The authors have brought to life a part of Hollywood history that will never come again, making it a must-have book for the MGM film buff or any one interested in the workings of a major motion picture studio.

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