Books continue coming in at a faster pace than I can possibly keep up with and it’s been a while since I did a survey. Here are some of the recent titles that pique my interest. Remember, these are not critiques, but descriptions based on a quick once-over. I hope to print full-fledged reviews, on a few more, in the weeks ahead.
Here’s a welcome look inside the nightclub/restaurant co-founded by Bette Davis and John Garfield to entertain servicemen during World War II. While it’s been mentioned in many surveys of 1940s Hollywood (and was the subject of a Warner Bros. feature film) this book chronicles the history of the institution, offering facts and figures along with personal anecdotes. Best of all, it is profusely illustrated, with many shots of stars (from Marlene Dietrich to Orson Welles) who volunteered there. I wish the photo reproduction were better—these pictures, from Torrence’s famous collection, deserve a handsome coffee table book—I still love looking at them.
Rea, who writes about film for the Philadelphia Inquirer, turns out to be a cycling enthusiast as well. He combines his two interests in this highly browseable, handsomely designed hardcover picture book, from the puckish publisher that brought us Hollywood du Jour and Hollywood Poolside, among others. You’ll not only find rare and sometimes-campy photos of everyone from Shirley Temple and Rita Hayworth to Sean Connery and Jane Fonda, with their original studio captions as well as detailed descriptions of their bikes.