The Internet age has spoiled us in terms of behind-the-scenes stories from famous movies. Decades-old interviews with our favorite directors are accessible on Youtube. Blu-ray commentary features are full of more information than we could possibly ever digest. But there’s just something about a good book that we’ll never tire of. Earlier this week, we received word that legendary comedian and filmmaker Mel Brooks is writing a definitive behind-the-scenes book about the making of his 1974 film Young Frankenstein. Here are several other tell-all tales about Hollywood and the movie industry you can read leading up to Brooks’ Young Frankenstein: A Mel Brooks Book.
Shock Value: A Tasteful Book About Bad Taste by John Waters
The Pope of Trash elaborates on his humble beginnings in Baltimore, the making of his first movies, his muse Divine, and what fame means to him. And you can’t beat an opener like this: “To me, bad taste is what entertainment is all about. If someone vomits watching one of my films, it’s like getting a standing ovation.”
How I Made A Hundred Movies In Hollywood And Never Lost A Dime by Roger Corman
The King of the Bs, who started the careers of luminaries like Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola, relates his experiences as a master of low-budget productions.
A Youth in Babylon: Confessions of a Trash-Film King by David F. Friedman
A history of American exploitation cinema from the perspective of pioneering producer David F. Friedman (Blood Feast, Ilsa: She-Wolf of the S.S.).
Avant-garde filmmaker and eternal shit-stirrer Kenneth Anger wrote a scandalous account of Hollywood’s rich and famous from the 1920s through the 1970s. Many of Anger’s stories have been denounced as untrue (No, Clara Bow didn’t sleep with the entire USC football team), but they made for fascinating urban legends.
The Kid Stays in the Picture: A Notorious Life by Robert Evans
Successful producer Robert Evans, who worked on iconic films like Rosemary’s Baby, Love Story, The Godfather, and Chinatown, chronicles his rise to fame as the production chief of Paramount Pictures and other juicy moments from his personal life and career — like a 1980s cocaine bust, which was the beginning of his downfall.
You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again by Julia Phillips
Producer Julia Phillips (The Sting, Taxi Driver) chats about the power games that dominated the New Hollywood era of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Phillips discusses her drug habit, and those of various A-listers, as well as the ostracism she faced as a woman in a field dominated by men.
My Autobiography by Charlie Chaplin
Chaplin details the poverty he experienced in South London as a child, his film career, and his international celebrity as a movie character loved all over the world. The book is a fascinating look at Chaplin’s personal life and the many chapters in Hollywood history from the late Victorian period, to the McCarthy-era and beyond.
Hitchcock on Hitchcock: Selected Writings and Interviews by Alfred Hitchcock
Ain’t no commentary like a Hitchcock commentary — and the director doesn’t hold back in these interviews and essays about his life, filmmaking techniques, and theories on cinema.