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The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy and Reality of an American Icon

3.26  ·  Rating Details  ·  42 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Hollywood's famous sign, constructed of massive white block letters set into a steep hillside, is an emblem of the movie capital it looms over and an international symbol of glamour and star power. To so many who see its image, the sign represents the earthly home of that otherwise ethereal world of fame, stardom, and celebrity--the goal of American and worldwide aspiratio ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 15th 2011 by Yale University Press
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Dan C.
Jul 06, 2011 Dan C. rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
This book has been abandoned. The writing style is enough to make me want to tear my eyeballs out.
Mar 24, 2012 Zedder rated it liked it
This is a fun read: it's a insightful overview of the history of the movie industry in Los Angeles and has a ton of great anecdotes. It also made me aware of a subgenre of LA movies that I didn't previously know about: movies about the decline and fall of a former movie star. It turns out that "Sunset Boulevard" is only the best, or most well-known, of a whole series of movies about has-beens. Even better: it wasn't even the first to use former actual movie stars in this context. Turns out that ...more
Christopher Roth
Sep 12, 2014 Christopher Roth rated it really liked it
I was initially resistant to this book. Since I was raised in Hollywood, I noticed mistakes right away, including Sessue Hayakawa being referred to as S. I. Hayakawa, plus the name of Christopher Isherwood's guru and the title of his book about him both rendered wrong. It made me wonder what else was wrong that I wasn't catching. Why would they let some transplant academic write this book? And the book veers sharply at times into cultural critique of films and history of an academic type that is ...more
Mar 04, 2012 Tony rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN. (2011). Leo Braudy. ****.
This is another in Yale University Press’s “American Icon” series, this one authored by a professor of English and American Literature at USC. If the author chose to focus strictly on the Hollywood sign itself, this could have been a ten-page pamphlet – but that would be no way to treat an icon. To bring us up to icon speed, we need to learn about the early history of California. First, it was the mecca for those seeking sunshine and healthy living.
Nov 28, 2011 Sissy rated it liked it
This book taught me that anybody who is anybody in Hollywood came from the Midwest, and that Hugh Hefner saved the sign along with a few other celebrities who are seemingly disconnected with each other about everything but preserving the sign. I read this when I first moved to LA and found it a concise history of Hollywood as told through the sign itself so there are many things that are glossed over. I enjoyed the anecdotes but could've used more - all of the anecdotes are mostly about silent f ...more
The Book : An Online Review at The New Republic
HERE'S A WELCOME ADDITION to the ingenious Yale series on “Icons of America” (edited by Mark Crispin Miller), which already includes Kyle Gann on John Cage’s 4’ 33”, Josh Ozersky on The Hamburger, and Molly Haskell on Gone With the Wind. This time the subject is silent, bigger than a burger but as much a gesture at eternity as Scarlett O’Hara’s plans for tomorrow. Read more...
Michael Benami Doyle
Aug 03, 2015 Michael Benami Doyle rated it really liked it
Shelves: los-angeles
Not simply focused on the history of the sign, itself. The author tells the sign's story in the historic context of urban development, economic development, and studio history in Los Angeles. Made the book compelling in a completely unexpected way. Wish it had been longer.
Jul 23, 2011 cathy rated it really liked it
Loved it. I probably loved it even more because I saw Dr. Braudy lecture on the thopic and had a chance to chat with him afterwards. Very interesting, informed and thorough in his historical handling of this L.A. icon.
Oct 31, 2012 Claudia rated it liked it
Very interesting take on the iconic status of the sign and its importance as a world pop culture icon, and its history within Los Angeles.
Jul 20, 2013 Marya rated it liked it
Some of it was really too academic (it's summer after all) for me, but there was much of it that was enjoyable.
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Leo Braudy is among Americas leading cultural historians and film critics. His most recent book, From Chivalry to Terrorism, was named Best of the Best by the Los Angeles Times and a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times. Among his previous books, The Frenzy of Renown: Fame and Its History was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and Jean Renoir: The World of His Films wa ...more
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