Movies were the dominant cultural force in the United States and helped spread American culture around the Nation and the world. Hollywood was a magnet for the rich and famous—and those who wanted to be. At a time when many families were struggling to survive the Great Depression Hollywood in the 30s and 40s was the dream factory cranking out stories of happy endings, lasting romance and victory over the bad guys. It was filled with larger than life characters, from the famous faces on the screen to the directors, producers and studio chiefs who controlled the fortunes of thousands and the entertainment of millions.
Author Kelly Durham has captured this iconic time in America in his new Frank Russell-Pacific Pictures series and his entertaining new novel, The Movie Star and Me (August 9, 2016). Durham exposes readers to the history of the movie business of ‘Old Hollywood’ in this historical fiction tour de force. Movie magic, labor strikes, HUAC committee hearings and the business of show business are revealed as a colorful cast of characters fight for their self-interests–with surprising results.
The Movie Star and Me follows Frank Russell, a young veteran just returned from the Pacific war. On the ship home from Okinawa, Frank discovers several cans of newsreel film in his duffel bag. Once he lands in the States, Frank returns the film to its owner, Pacific Pictures in Hollywood. Over the course of a couple of visits to the studio, Frank impresses its owner Abe Baum, who offers Frank a job. Frank continues to impress and is quickly promoted, earning the attention of Vera Vance, an up and coming starlet. Under Frank’s tutelage, the ambitious Vera becomes the studio’s top box office attraction. But there are secrets at Pacific Pictures that threaten futures and Frank gets caught up in a high-stakes battle where people aren’t always what they seem to be.
“THE MOVIE STAR AND ME drew me in and never let go of me. Durham has effortlessly replicated 1940s Hollywood in such a way that, at times, I was convinced the story was nonfiction. The story is an intoxicating blend of film making, romance, big business and murder. Durham weaves it all together in such a skillful manner that it can only leave readers breathless and wanting more.” Chuck Driskell, author of SEVEN YEARS DEAD
“[Durham] is very good story-teller with quite an imagination who has vividly captured post World War ll Hollywood… Readers’ fascination will be heightened as the yarn had been inspired by actual events in Hollywood in the 1940’s.
…entertaining and a quick read that takes us to several unexpected directions particularly its ending.”
Norm Goldman Reviewer and Editor of Bookpleasures Book Reviews