"One thing I’ve always liked about Hollywood is its zip, or speed. The whole industry depends to some extent on talent spotting. The hundreds of agents, studio executives, and producers who roam the streets of the city of Los Angeles let very little in the way of talent slip by."
In this final installment of the memoir trilogy that includes Books and Literary Life, Larry McMurtry, "the master of the show-stopping anecdote" (O, The Oprah Magazine) turns his own keenly observing eye to his rollercoaster romance with Hollywood. As both the creator of numerous works successfully adapted by others for film and television (Terms of Endearment, Lonesome Dove, and the Emmy-nominated The Murder of Mary Phagan) and the author of screenplays including The Last Picture Show (with Peter Bogdanovich), Streets of Laredo, and the Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain (both with longtime writing partner Diana Ossana), McMurtry has seen all the triumphs and frustrations that Hollywood has to offer a writer, and he recounts them in a voice unfettered by sentiment and yet tinged with his characteristic wry humor.
Beginning with his sudden entrée into the world of film as the author of Horseman, Pass By—adapted into the Paul Newman–starring Hud in 1963—McMurtry regales readers with anecdotes that find him holding hands with Cybill Shepherd, watching Jennifer Garner’s audition tape, and taking lunch at Chasen’s again and again. McMurtry fans and Hollywood hopefuls alike will find much to cherish in these pages, as McMurtry illuminates life behind the scenes in America’s dream factory.
Prolific novelist and screenwriter McMurtry shares his history with the movies via breezy anecdotes and insightful reflections on a writer's fluctuating currency in Hollywood. McMurtry muses on the elusive and capricious nature of the filmmaking industry with humor and compassion for some of the people who have inhabited it. With observations on the often predictable decline of movie stars, and recollections of his own projects, McMurtry is always the writer who loves what he does, despite setbacks, delays, or disappointments. He shares some of Tinsel Town's characters, less idiosyncratic today than they once were, and the many opportunities he was given to write for the movies; his endeavors, even those that never made it to the screen, served a purpose in the long, productive trajectory of his career. Unpretentious but wise, passionate but not precious about his craft (when he won an Oscar for Brokeback Mountain he skipped the parties in favor of "a decent cheeseburger" and bed), McMurtry shames his angst-ridden peers with a frank appreciation for the chance to be a part of the massive entertainment machine. \n
A good, humble read.
With a few tips along the way.
Hollywood the "Dream" Factory
Beautifully written by someone who's walked the street of dreams. I loved it, agreeing with everything except his disregard for "technicians" being a part of the "big show" at the Academy Awards. I'm a director of photography and believe that we contribute significantly to the visual literature that becomes a film. With respect I might offer a well written and executed show might be more of the problem with the Academy Award program. Before the big television show when every star had to make cute for their little turn or some big poorly produced extravaganza (that would be excised from any well written script the nation and the world) movie lovers listened to stars enjoy an evening of being together to celebrate films. It needs to be a respectful representation of the hard work and a celebration of those great films.
Bravo for a great book, well written, well edited, without any excess extravaganza.
Roy H. Wagner ASC
Director of Photography