Princeton Architectural Press
Karina Longworth, film critic and blogger turned podcaster, is interested in the “Golden Era” of Hollywood, and the pop culture that surrounds. She’s created the amazing podcast, You Must Remember This, which You Must Remember To Listen To! and here’s a photo-essay book that shows off some of the unseen contact-sheet photos from when Hollywood films were made in the pre-digital/social media era.
Nowadays a film might be teased out with a competition on Facebook, a trailer uploaded to a secret site, or pimped out via mainstream/cool news sites. It’s all about the scoop – and about blanket coverage from there, just pile it up and spew forth.
But there was a time when the studios had photographers on hand to capture (still) magic from the filming, looking for the poster-image to sell the film and candid shots, perhaps, of the actors breaking character, or relaxing on the set.
These contact sheets are a window into the film – but also a portal directly to the set, the behind-the-scenes shenanigans (or sometimes austere, formal setting). It’s a bygone era. And you wouldn’t, at first, think that 1997 could line up as being anywhere close to 1951, but the gap between 1997 and 2015 seems far greater all of a sudden…
The photos here, beautifully reproduced, show silver screen heroes, and classic films. The directors, the actors, from when Clark Gable was the man through to when Ewan Macgregor was the junkie ideal.
The black’n’white idealises/fetishizes Hollywood glamour, preserves these memories. And, as has been the case with her podcast, Longworth’s writing, erudite, just enough of a hint of snark and sass, is sharp and crystalising.
It’s obvious that this labour of love informed her other great labour of love, the podcast. That in fact the two versions of storytelling played off and complement one another.
Hollywood Frame By Frame is a coffee-table book you’d read cover to cover and then return to for the snapshots, but it also has a place on the bookshelf alongside any other film-scholar texts you’re collecting.
And that, again, is the skill Longworth is showcasing on You Must Remember This – immediate, engaging, wise but with the right kind of contemporary feel to the writing, an awareness of humour and how to use contemporary language when talking about culture from the past.