Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

TINTYPE TUESDAY: HOLLYWOOD CELEBRATES THE HOLIDAYS Hits the Bookshelves!

Welcome to another edition of TINTYPE TUESDAY!

Still searching for that last-minute gift for a classic movie fan? Or maybe you’ve run your tootsies ragged and you deserve a little something yourself? Look no further than the gorgeous new book, Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays: 1920-1970!

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Lovingly written and researched by film historians Karie Bible and Mary Mallory, this hardcover passport to classic movie heaven takes you through every holiday from New Year’s Day through Christmas, as only Old Hollywood could. These fabulous photos span the spectrum from naughty to nice, from high glamour to wholesome, and from holy to hilarious.

Take, for instance, the Christmas chapter. Tucked among the more heartwarming pix are W.C. Fields as Old Saint Nick, surrounded by much leggier elves than any I remember, and Peter Lorre sneaking up on a Santa-clad Sidney Greenstreet with a baseball bat. Oh and don’t look now, but Joan Crawford is perched on the chimney with a shotgun—and she doesn’t look happy. But Carole Lombard does, in one of many lovely shots beautifully reproduced in this volume. Suddenly your holiday won’t seem complete until you have a glow just like that…

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Mallory and Bible, both lifelong old-movie addicts, happily plundered their own photo treasures, and then scoured auction sites, paper shows, and film archives such as the famed Margaret Herrick Library in Los Angeles, where you just want to hide out until closing time and wander the stacks all night long. “We were also very fortunate to have the support of some really great collectors who generously opened their vaults to us,” said Bible, who was born on Halloween, which is lavishly represented in the glossy pages of the book.

Amidst all the major holidays (and some minor ones) is a chapter on Hollywood’s all-out effort to rally the nation and sell bonds during World War II, featuring some of the same imagery you’ll find in the section devoted to Independence Day. And yes, that’s Mae West as Lady Liberty (Libertine?).

Then there are the “What were they thinking?” photos, like the one of Charlie McCarthy’s head superimposed on an actual toddler’s body, with butterfly wings attached because, hey, why not? “When I first saw it, I said ‘Wow! This is so wrong, we must include it!'” Bible laughed. If Cupid actually looked like this, we’d all be begging for the sweet mercy of solitude. Much like Dorothy Hart, who’d really like to shake the pervy bunny peering over her shoulder. “I wondered why in the world the studio would employ a life-size man in an Easter photo, especially one that objectifies her on so many levels,” mused Mallory. “How did the Production Code even approve it?”

Many of the photo captions feature the original verso text that was typed on the back by the studio publicists. (Because—duh!—these pix were, of course, promotional tools!) Ironically, the leering Easter bunny was touting one of the most innocent films ever made: “The rabbit’s visit to Hollywood served a dual purpose, as he was doing a bit of technical advising on Harvey, which will star Jimmy Stewart with an invisible rabbit.”

As of today, this fabulous book was available at some online booksellers, including Barnes & Noble, but out of stock at others, such Amazon. If you have trouble tracking it down, you can order it directly from the publisher. And really, if you’re buying it as a gift, pick one up for yourself too. Because once you peruse its pages, it’ll be awfully hard to part with!

Full disclosure: While Mary and I know each other only online, I’m lucky enough to call Karie a friend. But I bought my own book; friends don’t let friends give them free review copies! This was a labor of love for these two, who poured in tons of research hours and their own money, buying up photos and paying for publishing rights. I know there are lots of classic film writers and bloggers who scarf down every freebie in sight, but after all the time and expense the authors put into this, I would’ve felt like a heel mooching a free copy. So when I suggest you buy this book, rest assured that I bought it too!

TINTYPE TUESDAY is a weekly feature on Sister Celluloid, with fabulous classic movie pix (and usually some backstory!) to help you make it to Hump Day! For previous editions, just click hereand why not bookmark the page, to make sure you never miss a week?

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