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richardderus

Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud

MGM: Hollywood's Greatest Backlot - Steven Bingen, Stephen X. Sylvester, Michael Troyan, Debbie Reynolds Rating: 4* of fiveThe Book Report: A photo essay on the long-vanished Culver City, California, backlot of cinema giant Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios. As much as 20% of the entire US film output from the medium's invention until the 1970s, a period of almost 70 years, was filmed all or in part at some portion of this astounding movie-making paradise. Think about that. Assume you've seen 100 movies made before 1970...20 of them, on average, will have some MGM backlot-related content.Wow.My stepmother's father was a rank-and-file MGM sound man for his whole life. After they made him retire, he got a job as sound man for the 1960s TV show Bewitched. I grew up hearing the stories, and was completely snookered by the glamour-busting that he did. I came to this book excited and gleefully anticipatory. I looked at its lovely, oversized landscape trim and drooled with eagerness to see the oversized images of the many sets and streets and stills from films that would be within.So very NOT disappointed. And I even read the captions!My Review: What does one say about a photo book? I can't show you the pictures. I can tell you that, in a properly ordered universe, this book would be in the library of every movie buff, every MGMhead, and all public libraries nationwide.I found the captions, which are really mini-essays putting the images into film history context, delightful as well as useful. I love knowing why some scenes look familiar. Some movie titles in these captions brought sudden *wham* old memories of seeing the film in question. Some of them I've made note of so I can go find them. And some of the photos made me a little bit wistful. All of this magical stuff is gone, now under yet another SoCal suburban development.Sic transit gloria mundi. Ars may very well be longa, since we still have the movies made there, but this magical place's vita was too brevis for me.