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About Sam Wasson
SAM WASSON is the author of six books including the best-selling Fosse and Fifth Avenue, 5 AM. His latest book is THE BIG GOODBYE: CHINATOWN AND THE LAST YEARS OF HOLLYWOOD.
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'A multifaceted dissection of the infamous noir film ... good reading for any American cinema buff' Kirkus
Chinatown is the Holy Grail of 1970s cinema. Its ending is the most notorious in American film and its closing line of dialogue the most haunting. Here for the first time is the incredible true story of its making. In Sam Wasson's telling, it becomes the defining story of its most colorful characters. Here is Jack Nicholson at the height of his powers, embarking on his great, doomed love affair with Anjelica Huston. Here is director Roman Polanski, both predator and prey, haunted by the savage murder of his wife, returning to Los Angeles, where the seeds of his own self-destruction are quickly planted. Here is the fevered deal-making of "The Kid" Robert Evans, the most consummate of producers. Here too is Robert Towne's fabled script, widely considered the greatest original screenplay ever written. Wasson for the first time peels off layers of myth to provide the true account of its creation. Looming over the story of this classic movie is the imminent eclipse of the '70s filmmaker-friendly studios as they gave way to the corporate Hollywood we know today.
Now in paperback in time for the 60th anniversary of the film version Breakfast at Tiffany’s— the New York Times bestseller and first-ever complete account of Audrey Hepburn and the making of the film that Janet Maslin called “a bonbon of a book filled with delightful anecdotes”
With a cast of characters that includes Audrey Hepburn, Truman Capote, and Gerald Clarke, this book offers a slice of social history seen through the lens of one of America’s most iconic films
The images of Breakfast at Tiffany’s are branded into our collective memory: we can see Audrey Hepburn stepping out of that cab on the corner of 57th and 5th, and we can picture her again with George Peppard, huddled in an alleyway and wrapped in a kiss, as the rain pours down around them. Those moments are as familiar to us as any in whole the history of movies, but few of us know that that ending was not the film’s original ending. In fact, it was only one of two endings the filmmakers shot—and it almost didn’t make it in.
The reasons why have to do with Tiffany’s cutting-edge take on sex in the city, namely, when to show it, and how to do it, without getting caught. If Truman Capote had it his way, his beloved Marilyn Monroe would have been cast as Holly, but crafty executives knew that she’d have the censors on red alert. So they went for Audrey. But would she go for them? Frightened at the prospect of playing a part so far beyond her accepted range—not to mention the part of call girl—Audrey turned inside out worrying if she should take her agent’s advice and accept the role. What would people think? America’s princess playing a New York bad girl? It seemed just too far…
The First Little Black Dress is the first ever complete account of the making of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Drawing upon countless interviews with those involved in the film’s production, from actors to producer Richard Shepherd to Gerald Clarke, Capote’s biographer, Wasson brings us inside the world and indeed inside the mind of one of America’s greatest cinematic icons.
Wasson immerses us in the America of the late fifties, before Woodstock and birth control, when a not-so-virginal girl by the name of Holly Golightly raised eyebrows across the nation, changing fashion, film, and sex, for good. But that was the easy part. Getting Audrey there—and getting the right people behind her—that was the tough part.
With the heart of a novelist and the eye of a critic, Wasson delivers us from the penthouses of the Upper East Side to the pools of Beverly Hills, from script to screen and from rehearsal to “Action!” The First Little Black Dress presents Breakfast at Tiffany’s as we have never seen it before—through the eyes of those who made it.
Chinatown est le Graal du cinéma des années 1970. Sa fin surprenante est la plus célèbre de tout le cinéma américain, et sa dernière réplique, la plus obsédante. Ce livre révèle, pour la première fois, l’incroyable genèse de ce projet.
Sam Wasson nous conte cette histoire mettant en scène des personnages hauts en couleurs, sur fond de mutation spectaculaire des studios hollywoodiens. Il y a Jack Nicholson, alors au sommet de sa carrière, star parmi les stars, au seuil de sa grande histoire d’amour vouée à l’échec avec Anjelica Huston. Roman Polanski, le réalisateur du film, à la fois prédateur et proie, hanté par la mort tragique de son épouse, qui revient à Los Angeles, le lieu du crime, où les graines de sa propre destruction sont rapidement plantées. Le grand producteur Robert Evans, le « Kid », exalté à l’idée de passer des contrats. Enfin, il y a Robert Towne, auteur du fabuleux scénario du film, considéré par beaucoup comme le meilleur jamais écrit. Pour la première fois, Sam Wasson dissipe les mythes liés à Chinatown et décrit la façon dont le film est réellement né.
En toile de fond, la fin d’une époque : celle des années 1970, où les studios choyaient leurs créateurs. Elle cèdera la place à un Hollywood plus brutalement industriel, comme aujourd’hui. The Big Goodbye mérite sa place à côté d’autres grands livres sur le monde du cinéma, comme Le Nouvel Hollywood.
« Sharon Tate ressemblait à la Californie. » C’est la première phrase. Sam Wasson écrit comme un romancier. Et enquête comme un journaliste. C’est ce qui fait le prix de cet ouvrage. - Le Figaro
À PROPOS DE L'AUTEUR
Sam Wasson vit à Los Angeles et est diplômé de cinéma de l’Université de Wesleyan et de l’USC School of Cinematic Arts. Il décrit dans ses romans les différentes facettes du cinéma et partage sa passion du septième art dans de grands magazines américains comme Variety, The New York Times ou le Wall Street Journal. Son excellent livre 5e Avenue, 5 heures du matin a été élu meilleur livre de l’année 2012 par le New York Times.
Paul Mazursky's nearly twenty films as writer/director represent Hollywood's most sustained comic expression of the 1970s and 1980s. But they have not been given their due, perhaps because Mazursky's films—both sincere and ridiculous, realistic and romantic—are pure emotion. This makes films like Bob Carol Ted Alice, An Unmarried Woman, and Enemies, A Love Story difficult to classify, but that's what makes a human comedy human. In the first ever book-length examination of one of America's most important and least appreciated filmmakers, Sam Wasson sits down with Mazursky himself to talk about his movies and how he makes them. Going over Mazursky's oeuvre one film at a time, interviewer and interviewee delve into the director's life in and out of Hollywood, laughing, talking, and above all else, feeling—like Mazursky's people always do. The book includes a filmography and never-before-seen photos.
With one of the longest and most controversial careers in Hollywood history, Blake Edwards is a phoenix of movie directors, full of hubris, ambition, and raving comic chutzpah. His rambunctious filmography remains an artistic force on par with Hollywood's greatest comic directors: Lubitsch, Sturges, Wilder. Like Wilder, Edwards's propensity for hilarity is double-helixed with pain, and in films like Breakfast at Tiffany's, Days of Wine and Roses, and even The Pink Panther, we can hear him off-screen, laughing in the dark. And yet, despite those enormous successes, he was at one time considered a Hollywood villain. After his marriage to Julie Andrews, Edwards's Darling Lili nearly sunk the both of them and brought Paramount Studios to its knees. Almost overnight, Blake became an industry pariah, which ironically fortified his sense of satire, as he simultaneously fought the Hollywood tide and rode it. Employing keen visual analysis, meticulous research, and troves of interviews and production files, Sam Wasson delivers the first complete account of one of the maddest figures Hollywood has ever known.