Thursday, October 2, 2014


The irresistible title tells the subject matter well but just in case there’s the subtitle - Stumbling Through Hollywood History.  And, friends what a history it is as revealed by Railey who leaves no good (often outrageous) story left unwritten.   He has selected movie legends from the very early days (Fatty Arbuckle, Clara Bow, etc.) through the Studio Era (Joan Crawford, Bing Crosby, etc.) to the Postwar Era (Humphrey Bogart, Ava Gardner, etc.) and finally the 1960's & New Hollywood (Natalie Wood, Frank Sinatra, etc.)  Believe there are some 70 in all who left their mark and more (think Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Steve McQueen).

Of course, the amount of alcohol consumed by each star is detailed.  Where else would you discover that Judy Garland’s favorite libation was vodka and grapefruit juice and when on tour her assistant kept two thermoses at the ready?  Or, have you heard that when John Barrymore and several of his drinking buddies showed up at the draft office in 1941 thoroughly sloshed the registrar asked, “Who sent you?  The enemy?”

The very, very private (which sometimes became public) lives of the stars isn’t overlooked.  Who slept with whom, where and when is given ample coverage (pun intended).  Favorite hangouts of the glitterati such as Mocambo, Café Trocadero, the Brown Derby, and the Coconut Grove are described.

There’s never a dull paragraph in Of All The Gin Joints as a mix of forty favorite cocktails is also included.  You can sample a Chocolate Martini as enjoyed by Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson while making Giant or a mixture of Port and Brandy as imbibed by Richard Harris.

It would be tantamount to impossible to choose a favorite story from this collection but surely the making of The Lost Weekend tops my list.  Ray Milland, a non-drinker, was chosen to play the lead.  Knowing the part would be a career maker he very much wanted the part, but he also wanted his acting to be authentic.  What he went through to achieve this might have done in a lesser man.

Feel certain you won’t skip a sentence of this Hollywood history!

- Gail Cooke

No comments: