Pictures At a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood
By Bill Kohlhaase
Mark Harris’ account of the making of the five “Best Picture” nominees from 1967 is an epic tale of art, business and character. The films represent old Hollywood’s formulaic approach to creativity (Doctor Dolittle), it’s frustrations in trying to be relevant (Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner), the obstacles it faced in coming up with something truly innovative (Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate) and its successes it spite of itself (In the Heat of the Night). Slow to respond to the desires of its audiences and resistant to new ideas and faces, Hollywood of the 1960s is portrayed as a giant dragged screaming into the future. Harris is a master at weaving together Pictures’ various themes and subjects.The book can be enjoyed simply for it personalities: a persistent yet insecure Warren Beatty, Rex Harrison’s drunken self-obsession, Sidney Poitier’s dilemma as the only major black film star. Its backdrop is the uneasy alliance between creativity and commerce, America’s racial struggles and a society ready to change and not sure how to go about it. Part cultural study, part juicy gossip, Pictures is a must for those interested in the past and future of cinema. And aren’t we all?
The Penguin Press; hardback, 490 pages, $27.95