June 07, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Bad and the Beautiful: Hollywood in the Fifties

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Sam Kashner, Jennifer MacNair
publisher
W.W. Norton
genre
Nonfiction
We gave it a B

A chapter on Confidential, the forgotten Hollywood scandal mag that published incorrigible headlines like ”Errol Flynn and His Two-Way Mirror” and ”Maureen O’Hara Cuddled in Row 35,” kicks off this salted-peanuts assessment of moviedom’s gaudiest decade. As subsequent chapters dish on Rock Hudson, Sweet Smell of Success, the Stompanato murder, and the Sammy Davis Jr.-Kim Novak secret affair, the Confidential opening comes to make more sense: The dirt-diggin’ rag is a frequently cited source for the authors. MacNair and Kashner have written an unexpectedly trashy but not quite sodden and never boring pop history. If only Douglas Sirk were around to adapt some of it for the movies.

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