"It's the Pictures That Got Small"

Charles Brackett on Billy Wilder and Hollywood's Golden Age

Edited by Anthony Slide. Foreword by Jim Moore.

Columbia University Press

"It's the Pictures That Got Small"

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Pub Date: December 2014

ISBN: 9780231167086

448 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $34.95£27.00

Pub Date: December 2014

ISBN: 9780231538220

448 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $33.99£27.00

"It's the Pictures That Got Small"

Charles Brackett on Billy Wilder and Hollywood's Golden Age

Edited by Anthony Slide. Foreword by Jim Moore.

Columbia University Press

Golden Age Hollywood screenwriter Charles Brackett was an extremely observant and perceptive chronicler of the entertainment industry during its most exciting years. He is best remembered as the writing partner of director Billy Wilder, who once referred to the pair as "the happiest couple in Hollywood," collaborating on such classics as The Lost Weekend (1945) and Sunset Blvd (1950).

In this annotated collection of writings taken from dozens of Brackett's unpublished diaries, leading film historian Anthony Slide clarifies Brackett's critical contribution to Wilder's films and Hollywood history while enriching our knowledge of Wilder's achievements in writing, direction, and style. Brackett's diaries re-create the initial meetings of the talent responsible for Ninotchka (1939), Hold Back the Dawn (1941), Ball of Fire (1941), The Major and the Minor (1942), Five Graves to Cairo (1943), The Lost Weekend, and Sunset Blvd, recounting the breakthrough and breakdowns that ultimately forced these collaborators to part ways.

Brackett was also a producer, served as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Screen Writers Guild, was a drama critic for the New Yorker, and became a member of the exclusive literary club, the Algonquin Round Table. Slide provides a rare, front row seat to the Golden Age dealings of Paramount, Universal, MGM, and RKO and the innovations of legendary theater and literary figures, such as Alfred Lunt, Lynn Fontanne, Edna Ferber, and Dorothy Parker. Through Brackett's keen, witty perspective, the political and creative intrigue at the heart of Hollywood's most significant films comes alive, and readers will recognize their reach in the Hollywood industry today.
Charles Brackett was an outstanding writer and producer of his era. Like him, I have served as the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and also like him, I had had a long association with Billy Wilder. I am therefore delighted that Charlie's diaries are being published, providing us with his unique insight into Billy and Hollywood's golden age. Walter Mirisch
Reading Charles Brackett's diary entries is like stepping into a time machine. It provides a vivid and valuable account of day-to-day life in the heyday of Hollywood's studio system—and a bittersweet chronicle of his volatile relationship with Billy Wilder. I couldn't put the book down. Leonard Maltin
Charlie would often talk about his diaries as I worked with him and Billy Wilder on the screenplay of. I am thrilled that those diaries are now published and gratified to be a part of them. Donald M. Marshman Jr.
Charlie was always very kind and friendly to me and I very much look forward to the publication of his diaries. Don Bachardy
This is a book I was literally unable to put down once I began reading it, and I suspect everyone with a reverence for Hollywood in its glory days will feel the same. Here is a rare chance to read what was going on in Charles Brackett's mind and his world while he made so many of the movies we revere so highly today. Robert Osborne, Primetime host of Turner Classic Movies
Anyone interested in the golden age of film should enjoy this very entertaining and illustrative look at the film industry of the 1930s and 1940s. Library Journal
Above all, "It's the Pictures That Got Small" is an indispensable guide to the complex, increasingly awkward relationship between two men who had next to nothing in common and yet contrived to make a fair number of the studio system's finest films. Commentary
Brackett's 1932-49 dispatches from Hollywood's front line, are crammed with sugar-free, often salty observations. The author's honesty is certified by the fact that he can admire a man one minute and put him down the next. When that man is Billy Wilder, which it often is, the result is a day-by-day, year-on-year, pointilliste portrait of a sacred monster, warts and all. Frederic Raphael, Wall Street Journal
Charles Brackett has always lived in the shadow of his high-profile writing partner, Billy Wilder. This valuable compendium of diary entries from 1933 to 1950, painstakingly edited by Anthony Slide, not only sheds light on that renowned collaboration but evokes the reality of daily life in the heyday of the Hollywood studio system. Leonard Maltin, Indiewire
What we see in this volume is a writer much like Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard. At the end of a long day spent negotiating titanic egos, he simply wants to sit down and write the thoughts that race through his head like a dozen locomotives. James Hughes, Film Comment
"It's the Pictures That Got Small": Charles Brackett on Billy Wilder and Hollywood's Golden Age edited by Anthony Slide, offers not only rare insight into their often-stormy partnership but also an insider's view of Hollywood during that era. Susan King, Los Angeles Times
["It's the Pictures That Got Small"] reveals the conflicts that led to some of the best pictures of the last century. Robert Fulford, National Post
An absorbing chronicle of a tempestuous collaboration and the lifestyles of an era.... "It's the Pictures That Got Small" is a plump album packed with tiny but revealing snapshots. David Bordwell, Observations on Film Art
Fascinating passages are lightly sprinkled throughout.... The accounts of how Sunset Boulevard arrived on screen in its finished form are among the most entertaining in Brackett's diaries. David Gritten, The Daily Telegraph
Brackett's diaries read like a funnier, better-paced version of Barton Fink. Sean Elder, Newsweek
Brackett's book is a fascinating look at Hollywood in its classic period, and a unique and indispensable must-have for any movie buff. Tom Moran, Chicago Tribune
The diaries give us a view of Brackett, Wilder, the collaboration, and life at the studio with an immediacy that memoirs don't have. Tom Stempel, Creative Screenwriting
This superbly edited and annotated book is a worthy testimony to a troubled individual in an industry he unjustly denigrated but which he undoubtedly enriched. Neil Sinyard, Neil Sinyard on Film
This view from deep inside the studio system at its height is one of the best books ever about Hollywood, as well one of the finest on writing in years. Black Mask
A fascinating look into the Golden Age of Hollywood from an insider's personal, unbiased point of view.... It's the Pictures That Got Small will find a permanent spot on many a film buff's bookshelf. Christopher Forsley, PopMatters
What is possibly most fascinating about the book is its insight into the operation of Hollywood in the golden years of the studio system. Douglas Allen, Media Education Journal
Slide has culled from Brackett's voluminous diaries a treasure trove of scenes and wit from Golden Age Hollywood.... A book to be skimmed and referenced—but primarily relished.... Recommended. CHOICE
The book is packed with revealing cameos from some of the greatest names of Hollywood's greatest era, and is a valuable record of the texture of life there in those years. Henry K. Miller, Sight and Sound
There are diamonds aplenty in Brackett's diary entries. Christopher Silvester, Literary Review
While anecdotes... sustain readers across almost four hundred pages of diary entries, their value to scholars and historians lies in the ways they exemplify the daily working life of writers in the studio system. Mary Desjardins, Film Quarterly
A collection of Charles Brackett's diaries, expertly edited by Anthony Slide to paint a multifaceted portrait of Brackett's long-term collaborator Billy Wilder. This feels as close as we can get to being in the presence of Wilder's genius, and he emerges as the cruellest as well as the wittiest of men. Jonathan Coe, The Guardian
Acknowledgments
Foreword by Jim Moore
Introduction by Anthony Slide
The Diaries
1932
1933
1934
1935
1936
1937
1938
1939
1940
1941
1942
1943
1944
1945
1946
1947
1948
1949
Leading Names and Subjects in the Diaries
Notes to Introduction
Index

Read Anthony Slide's introduction:

About the Author

Anthony Slide is the author or editor of more than two hundred books on the history of popular entertainment. He has served as both associate archivist of the American Film Institute and as resident film historian of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His most recent publications include Silent Players: A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film Actors and Actresses; Inside the Hollywood Fan Magazines: A History of Star Makers, Fabricators, and Gossip Mongers; and Hollywood Unknowns: A History of Extras, Bit Players, and Stand-Ins.