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Raymond Chandler, who wrote both screenplays and the novels that inspired them, had mixed feelings about the movies. On the one hand, he was inspired by the sheer range of artistic possibilities in cinema; on the other, true to hard-boiled form, he took a cynical view of the glitz and politics of show business (as well as the censorship that 1940s filmmakers faced under the Hays Code).
Indeed, a history of Old Hollywood by Karina Longworth illuminates the complex power dynamics involved in that world’s romance and glamour. Books by Nancy Schoenberger, Scott Eyman, and David Thomson each cast classic films in a new light by analyzing subtexts in their stories and relationships behind the scenes. And a study of the film industry by Maryann Erigha examines the racial inequalities that persist in Hollywood today.
Each week in the Books Briefing, we thread together Atlantic stories on books that share similar ideas, and ask you for recommendations of what our list left out.
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What We’re Reading
What the ‘Hollywood Jim Crow’ looks like today
“Maryann Erigha … offers a provocative lens for understanding how entrenched the industry’s racial imbalances are—and how the lack of people of color in top studio roles only perpetuates this inequality.”