Sunday, 29 November 2015

Star quality

The unusual upright shape of this thick book adds to its well designed look.

The endpapers

A rather unusual biography because of its large size and pictorial content.  I estimate there maybe six or seven hundred photos throughout the four hundred pages so the contents are really a visual life story rather than a text heavy conventional star biography and actually the lines are well spaced so that they fill the page space left by the photos on each spread.  There are two parts: Memories and myths (231 pages) and The movies (134 pages) the remaining pages have look at Short subjects, Television, Stage, Appendix and Index.

The first part is bursting with those shots of Lana in the public arena with a male friend (usually in a restaurant or night club) the sort that Hollywood snappers took by the thousand of Tinsel Town stars (under the strict control of the studios of course) to satisfy print media back then, other photos show her at home with husband and daughter Cheryl.  All of them are basically posed, the sort the publisher might describe as 'many never seen before', none are candid shots taken without Lana being aware she was being photographed.  I thought the most interesting ones were the studio shots with their perfect lighting and extensive retouching to produce a flawless skin, fortunately some of these are whole page and they look quite stunning.   The second section has a synopsis of Lana's movies from 1937 to 1976 with plenty stills and general studio shots with co-stars.  Nicely, there is usually a color poster of each film.

The book is a rather sumptuous production with thick matt art paper and well printed.  The designers resisted the temptation to angle or overlap any of the photos and there is a subtle use of color panels.  Overall I thought this was a handsome looking book, the upright shape helps too and because of so many photos (in mono and color) it's a treasure trove for Lana fans.

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