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Film historian exploits tumult, gossip in gripping account of Hollywood in the ’50s

When film historian Foster Hirsch began research for his latest book about the changing and turbulent movie landscape of the 1950s, he could not have known the timeliness of his subject matter upon the release of “Hollywood and the Movies of the Fifties: The Collapse of the Studio System, the Thrill of Cinerama, and the Invasion of the Ultimate Body Snatcher.”

Following a summer of historic Hollywood strikes and discussions about our own new technology, evolving studio framework and the increasing import of television, Hirsch looks to history to show us there is nothing new under the sun.

Though the decade gave us a host of classics still beloved by critics, Hirsch’s epic historical account peels back the curtain to reveal the tumultuous uncertainty that characterized the Tinseltown of the ’50s.

He meticulously contextualizes important historical details while artfully combining them with some good old-fashioned Hollywood gossip. The result is a gripping yet informative report on a time in show business where threats to the industry seemingly lurked around every corner of society.

While this book is not for the casually interested reader — Hirsch is a college professor likely writing for his industry-obsessed colleagues after all — it promises to entertain and educate movie lovers wanting to know more about the evolution of the film industry.

In conjunction with the book’s release, Hirsch is co-programming “ 50 from the ’50s,” a four-week film festival in New York beginning this week featuring some of the decade’s most iconic films.


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