30 Non-Fiction Books About Movies to Read Before You Die

Hollywood Babylon

Author: Kenneth Anger
Original publication date: 1965

Gay experimental filmmaker Kenneth Anger is a force of nature. He made his first short, Fireworks, when he was just 20. Its homoerotic imagery—including a roman candle bursting through a fly, and gang of sailors—got Anger arrested on obscenity charges. The case eventually came before the California Supreme Court. It was decided that, duh, film is art.

Anger, who was born in Santa Monica, grew up in the shadow of Hollywood. The secrets and glamour and gossip intoxicated the young artist. Hollywood Babylon, a tome of true lies, "exposes" scandals dating as far back as the silent era.

As this is Kenneth Anger, a famous conjurer, it can be difficult to tell what's apocryphal and what's fact. But it's all melodramatic and gorgeous, like a heavily made-up star demanding her close-up. —RS

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