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Monday, June 9, 2008

Classic Hollywood’s star system

Jeanine Basinger brings a fresh new level of dedication to classic film in her fascinating survey of the much-maligned studio system, The Star Machine (Knopf), a 550-page book that is difficult to set aside. Her provocative approach balances an encompassing analysis of the “dream factories” that catapulted so many stars into that celluloid stratosphere of the 1930s-’50s with biographical surveys of individual stars “under the influence” of a system unparalleled in the ingenuity of marketing. Basinger doesn’t delve into such famous names as Davis, Gable, Crawford and Cagney, concentrating instead on the less . . .

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