Friday, July 06, 2007

The Leading Men of MGM - Jane Wayne

I love movies and learning about the goings-on backstage. I got to read about Irving Thalberg and Louie B Mayer, two of the men behind the scenes. One, being the boy genius and the other, the puppetmaster. Did you know that MGM forced people to get married and divorced depending on whether it would positively affect their image? I can't believe the actors would let them have that kind of control over them. Some of the stories were quite heartbreaking actually. I also discovered how MGM came to be and learned a lot about the studio business, contracts, how everyone got started.

The Bad: The stars the book describes in detail are laid bare. It describes, sex, death, drugs, affairs, murder even. You'd be surprised how many people got away with murder in Hollywood, thanks to the studio. MGM even got a man to go to jail for Clark Gable after he ran over and killed a woman in a drunk driving incident in 1933.

These stories really lowered my opinion of the actors discussed. Yes, I understand that they were living in a fairytale world, exposed to sex and drugs and most lost themselves in some kind of way.

The Ugly: There were some things I learned that I would rather not have known. My image of Peter Lawford has been shattered, destroyed, stomped on and blown up forever. While I appreciated learning more about the actors truth be told, I like the characters they play more than the actors themselves.

There were so many stories that started out well enough but ended in such a sad way. I feel bad for what these people had to go through because deep down they didn't seem like bad people.

If you want to read this book I would suggest throwing out your preconceived ideas about your favourite classic actors and steel yourself against what's to come.

rating: 3.5/5 for being informative but also very sad.