(Published by Titan Books $24.95/£19.99) 208 pages,
Illustrated (B&W) ISBN 9781781161937
By Kevin Wilkinson
Movie stills have been a rather neglected area of the film industry so it
is pleasing to see Titan publish this book of the golden days of Hollywood
photography. It is not just a book full of gorgeous photos, as the text
contains fascinating information detailing the history of movie publicity stills
from the silent days through the heyday of the studio and star system to the
mid Sixties when colour photography would come to the fore.
The book is lavishly illustrated with portraits, production stills, behind
the scenes and candid photos. The often unheralded Hollywood photographers
often worked under contract to a specific studio. Their duties included
capturing portraits and scene stills, behind the scenes production shots
showing the director and crew at work and costume and movie set photos for
reference. They would also be assigned to take candid photos at the studio,
premieres, parties and the star’s homes to capitalize on the actors’ growing
popularity. These often included some obviously staged photographs designed to
portray the actor or actress as a dedicated family person. (The book includes a
wonderful photo of Errol Flynn in costume with his wife on the set of The Adventures of Robin Hood.) Examples
are shown of stills that were adapted for movie posters and how some directors would
take an intensely personal interest in the photos used for marketing campaigns.
(A still of John Gavin and Vera Miles from Psycho
looking at at a rocking chair was carefully arranged by Hitchcock so as not to
give the game away.)
Movie buffs and photographers alike will enjoy this book immensely. Highly
Here is the official description:
Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe... It is through the eye of the stills camera that we experience and recall some of the cinema's most memorable events and faces. Still images are so powerful that they can easily pass for actual scenes for the movies they represent - rather than separately posed, lighted and photographed shots that may not even find their way into the finished film.
This book is the most detailed and perceptive survey ever devoted to this neglected aspect of film-making. It traces the origin of stills photography during the silent era and the early development of the star system, through to the rise of the giant studios in the 1930s and their eventual decline. Finler focuses on the photographers, on the stars they photographed, and on many key films and film-makers.
Hollywood Movie Stills is illustrated with hundreds of rare and unusual stills from the author's own collection, including not only portraits and scene stills but production shots, behind-the-scenes photos, poster art, calendar art, photo collages and trick shots. There are also photos showing the stars' private lives and special events in Hollywood. This lavishly presented new edition of Finler's classic work includes many new stills and much new insight and information into this fascinating aspect of the great film studios in their heyday.