Hollywood Frame by Frame: The Unseen Silver Screen in Contact Sheets, 1951-1997 (2014) Karina Longworth
Princeton Architectural Press
Hardcover, 208 pages
Footnotes, index, photo credits, acknowledgments
Hollywood Frame by Frame chronicles a time past, but not so long past that it has no significance to movie lovers in 2015. In fact, the book has lasting significance and value for anyone interested in how films were made and promoted in the 20th century. Contact sheets – photo images printed from developed film – were used by still photographers (who usually had nothing to do with the actual film production crews) to promote films, taking pictures of movie stars while on the set or on location. Yet their value was also recognized as a method of documenting the working life of the stars, often with their guard down, showing each film’s (and sometimes each star’s) facade.
Longworth not only provides a glimpse behind those facades, but also gives a running history and commentary of the classic films and the people who starred in them. We get the feeling that we’re looking at something private, something meant to be viewed only by a select few who determined which shots would help promote a film and which would end up in the trash. Sadly, many contact sheets ended up getting thrown out once they served their purpose, but these rescued images are nothing short of priceless. If you’re a fan of classic films, you’ll see never-before-seen images from films such as From Here to Eternity, Rear Window, Summertime, Giant, Some Like It Hot, Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, The Godfather, Chinatown, and many more.
If you’re a fan of classic films, you’ll want to seriously consider Hollywood Frame by Frame, but you should also subscribe to Longworth’s excellent audio program You Must Remember This, a podcast “exploring the secret and/or forgotten histories of 20th Century Hollywood.”