Sunday, May 14, 2017

Jon Lewis's "Hard-Boiled Hollywood"

Jon Lewis is the Distinguished Professor of Film Studies at Oregon State University. He is the author of twelve books and the former editor Cinema Journal.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Hard-Boiled Hollywood: Crime and Punishment in Postwar Los Angeles, and reported the following:
Page 99 attends one of the many scandals discussed in the book -- the doomed romance between the movie star Lana Turner and the mobster Johnny Stompanato. At this point in the story, we see how the gossip columnists Hedda Hopper, Walter Winchell, and Louella Parsons and fellow celebrities like Gloria Swanson viewed the story. Hard-Boiled Hollywood tracks how, accompanying the demise of the studio system, paths crossed in postwar Hollywood -- how various subcultures; here, actors and mobsters, overlapped and intermingled, frequently with tragic results. At this point in that narrative, we see how the gossip industry exploited the complex and fraught relationships between various types or styles of media celebrities. Key and apparent on this page is the complex role of gossip in this era as a policing discourse, as a way to not only reign in celebrity excess but as well to cast such excess as un-American at a moment when that term was rather loaded with meaning and consequence.
Learn more about Hard-Boiled Hollywood at the University of California Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue