Member Reviews

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this fascinating look at Hollywood. The pictures were amazing and I enjoyed the intro in each chapter that gave a little behind the scenes info to go with the pictures!

Was this review helpful?

More of a “coffee table” book than a thoughtful story of studio history. I found a lot of the photos depressing to look at and many looked ‘seedy”. My imagination of movie making history is more glamorous. But what a great job of choosing photos to represent different time periods and different studios. Don’t think the average movie goer would appreciate this book, but production people might find it interesting. Thanks to #NetGalley and #HollywoodBehindTheLens for advanced digital copy.

Was this review helpful?

At a time when film studios seemed unable to appreciate the future historic value of the film industry, Marc Wanamaker set up Bison Archives which has tracked down & archived thousands of photographs, maps, & records of buildings, sets, & LA hotels, nightclubs, & theatres which no longer exist or have been redeveloped. This book showcases just a few of these remarkable photographs & documents from the old-school days of Hollywood.

Wow, this was a real treat! I've always been interested in the history of film-making, especially in Hollywood, from the silent films of the early twentieth century to today. After a short biography from Mr Wanamaker himself, there are lots of gorgeous photographs from over the years. From film studio sets, via the Ambassador Hotel & famous Coconut Grove nightclub, to the iconic Hollywood sign itself, the book gives a great snapshot of how much LA has changed. It's not an in-depth written history but the authors let the photographs do the talking. It is quite sad really to think of some of the lovely old buildings which have been demolished & that's why an archive such as Bison is such an important thing. Really enjoyed reading it.

My thanks to NetGalley & publishers, Globe Pequot/Lyons Press, for the opportunity to read an ARC.

Was this review helpful?

You don't have to be a historian of cinema and the history of Hollywood and the great American entertainment machine to appreciate this great picture book by famed archivist Marc Wanamaker, but if you are, you'll love the pictures - and commentary - herein. Marc's encyclopaedic knowledge of Hollywood history shines through in the earliest chapters of this book too, with his information about the dawn of Hollywood, the first studios, and much more. Don't know your silent film stars? You'll know at least a few key players after reading through this book. Be aware that it's mostly captioned photographs from Wanamaker's Bison Archives. This means it's not a great Kindle book; get the print edition to really appreciate all the photos in the best possible resolution. Highly recommended, greatly engaging. That, my friends, is entertainment!

Was this review helpful?

A nice combination of information and lesser known/seen images of Hollywood.
The earlier parts provide interesting information - especially to those who are looking for books about the studios. The majority of the book is composed of photos. If you are interested, it is best to get the print book for your colletion.

Was this review helpful?

I appreciated this concise textual introduction to Hollywood and the studios, and especially the photos and images. I chose it because I was interested in the images, and they did not disappoint (although I look forward to seeing the print book, as I don’t think the ebook formal did them justice). I was surprised to find that I would have liked a bit more text. I thought there was plenty in the early days sections, but would have liked a little more as the book got into the 1950s and beyond.

Thanks for the early look.

Was this review helpful?

I found myself completely nerding out reading Mark Wanamaker and Steven Bingen's "Hollywood Behind the Lens". The stories and pictures about old Hollywood are so interesting. I found myself going down the rabbit hole on the Internet wanting to find out even more. This book is such a treat for lovers of silent film and the early days of Los Angeles.

Was this review helpful?

Thanks to NetGalley, Globe Pequot and Lyons Press for letting me share my opinions of this book.

I was ecstatic When my request for a Digital Review Copy was accepted.

And it was easy for me to connect to this book being familiar with Hollywood movies from the silent era, the silver green and the 50s and 60s.

Steven Bingen, in the introduction, says (and I’m paraphrasing) this is the story of Hollywood. He also shares how this book came about. This is followed by Marc Wannamaker’s introduction, who after giving a brief biography, explains how he acquired Columbia’s photograph collection and how this would lead him to become the Bison Archives.

Looking through the photos was a treat, especially the then and now shots of the studios, which there were a lot of, and the shooting sets. Two of my favourites are with Alfred Hitchcock driving a car with MGM’s mascot, Leo the lion, and also Einstein visiting one of the studios.

This book isn’t about the stars, it’s about the studios that collectively are known as Hollywood. This story is told through photos, these include publicity shots that include few of the stars. The story it tells is more a flavour that highlights what these studios once stood for and what they have left behind.

It’s a story I enjoyed reading.

Was this review helpful?

My thanks to NetGalley and Globe Pequot publishers for a copy of “Hollywood Behind The Lens “ for an honest review.
I love reading books about classic Hollywood , and it’s shameful that so much of the history has now been destroyed .so it’s great that some of what made it such a special time and place has been preserved for others in the future .
I enjoyed reading this book , but as I read it as an ebook I didn’t really get the full effect of the photography.
I think it would definitely enhance others enjoyment of this as a physical book.

Was this review helpful?

Hollywood Behind the Lens by Marc Wanamaker and Steven Bingen is an amazing trip back to the beginning of Hollywood. The photographs are fantastic and the stories very interesting. This book is great for anyone interested in California history, Hollywood legends or just history in general. I loved the book and will be returning to it again and again to review the beautiful photographs.

Was this review helpful?

A very compelling introduction to the land of films and filmmakers, and also to an area of the city of Los Angeles, enriched by its photographs and conversational style of writing.

Was this review helpful?

This book was not only full of beautiful photos of Hollywood history but lots of information about Hollywood.

Was this review helpful?

A fascinating collection of photos, stills, handbills, letters and telegrams about the origins and history of Hollywood. I finally learned what TMZ stands for -- "Thirty Mile Zone" that labor unions officially designate as Hollywood. All of these artifacts are from the Bison Archives collection owned by Marc Wanamaker and I just was in awe about all the great history contained within this book. This book is in no way meant to be fully comprehensive of the entire history of the film industry, but it is the type of book that will make you want to dive in further through other books and research. A really enjoyable journey through Hollywood history!

Thank you to Netgalley and Globe Pequot, Lyons Press for an ARC and I voluntarily left this review.

Was this review helpful?

Hollywood Behind the Lens - Treasures from the Bison Archives by Marc Wanamaker and Steven Bingen is a glorious photographic archive of the history of Hollywood films from their inception to just about the present day. A lovely touch is Wanamakers own images in the prologue, detailing his beginnings in the industry

The book contains a whole miasma of different images, from behind the scenes photographs to staff passes to movie posters and each one has its own story. Beautifully put together, very well researched and presented, a real treasure trove of movie history

Thank you to Netgalley, Globe Pequot, Lyons Press and the authors Marc Wanamaker and Steven Bingenfor this fantastic ARC. My review is left voluntarily and all opinions are my own

Was this review helpful?

Marc Wanamaker and Steven Bingen's "Hollywood Behind the Lens" is a deliciously unvarnished exposé that lifts the veil on the organized chaos underpinning the glamorous realm of film-making. With a deft balance of reverence and irreverence, the authors invite readers to traverse the lesser-trodden paths of the industry, revealing the unsung heroes and occasional ego-fueled buffoonery that coalesce to manifest the silver screen's magic.

Wanamaker and Bingen's prose is a refreshing departure from the sycophantic narratives that often characterize Hollywood tell-alls. Their sarcastic asides and wry observations punctuate the genuine insights they offer into the intricate tapestry of collaboration and compromise that weaves together a successful production. From the meticulously orchestrated technicalities of lighting and sound to the delicate art of massaging mercurial talents, no stone is left unturned.

Particular delight is found in the authors' recounting of the industry's more farcical episodes, where the veneer of glamour and prestige is unceremoniously shattered by the all-too-human foibles of its most revered luminaries. One can scarcely stifle a chortle at the tales of tantrums thrown over the improper calibration of a trailer's climate control system or the utter meltdown incited by a misplaced hair extension.

Yet, beneath the mirth, there is a palpable reverence for the sheer ingenuity and perseverance required to bring a director's vision to fruition. Wanamaker and Bingen deftly underscore the oft-overlooked artistry of the unheralded crew members whose contributions are as vital as those of the marquee names.

I wholeheartedly recommend immersing oneself in this tome for two principal reasons:

Firstly, it offers an unprecedented glimpse into the intricate clockwork driving Hollywood's dream factory, bestowing upon the reader a newfound appreciation for the collaborative genius and logistical sorcery involved.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it is an utterly engaging and entertaining read. Wanamaker and Bingen have struck a masterful balance between insightful elucidation and uproarious storytelling, ensuring that even the most jaded reader will find themselves utterly captivated from start to finish.

Was this review helpful?

This is another very attractive pictorial history of Hollywood from Steven Bingen; I've read three of his studio backlot books. It's ostensibly both a sampling of the Bison Archives' collection and an overview of Hollywood history through that collection. The author says in the introduction this is intended to spur readers to pursue their own more specific research as a result. Given the scale of Hollywood history as a single thing, it makes sense that this ends up being extremely surface level; almost entirely confined to documenting the physical confines of Hollywood across the decades, but even that is so broad that it doesn't do so exhaustively in any particular dimension. If you're looking for a nice looking book of Hollywood icons to flip through, this is a success. If you're looking for information about why any of it is particularly significant, you're mostly out of luck. And if you want a deeper understanding of the scope of the Bison Archive beyond a brief synopsis, good luck there, as well. So maybe mission accomplished for the author's goal, in the end?
This isn't a bad book (it's very nice to look at!) but it's not the first place I'd look for Hollywood history. 3 stars on content/purpose, 5 for visuals.

Was this review helpful?