I have always been a fan of classic movies and I love the history surrounding cinema and the Hollywood movie system, so I was very excited to receive a copy Hollywood Movie Stills last week. After spending the week with this book, I am happy to say I am not disappointed. The book is chock full of the images (all in B&W) that helped to sell Hollywood in its early years.
Put together by Joel W. Finler, who was the first film critic for Time Out and the author of numerous books on cinema, including Stroheim and Alfred, Hollywood Movie Stills is not only a fun coffee table type book (believe me if you leave it out, people will pick it up). It also traces the evolution of medium that is nearly forgotten in our age of instant mobile video and interactive promotions. These photos were distributed in papers, magazines and were often traded and or hoarded by collectors. They demonstrate that while the medium and speed of transactions have changed tremendously, the need to commoditize and promote stars/films and the hunger for them has not changed at all.
If you enjoy the Golden Age of movies and the Hollywood of yore, you should take a look at Hollywood Movie Stills. I would not say that it is encyclopedic in scope (it feels just shy of it), but it a manageable and fun introduction, with just enough detail (and beautiful photos), that could inspire you to want to dig deeper into this facet of entertainment history.