Book Review: Hollywood in Kodachrome by David Wills and Stephen Schmidt

An outstanding collection of classic Hollywood imagery.
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According to his online biography, "Australian-born David Wills is an author, independent curator, photographic preservationist, and editor who has accrued one of the world's largest independent archives of original photographs, negatives, and transparencies."  Taking from his collection and that of others, Willis and designer Stephen Schmidt have teamed to create Hollywood in Kodachrome, an outstanding collection of classic Hollywood imagery.

In his introduction, Wills tells the history of the film known as Kodachrome, invented by Leopold Godowsky and Leopold Mannes, and credits many of the studio photographers from Hollywood's golden era, such as Frank Powolny at Fox, George Hurrell and Clarence Sinclair Bull at MGM, Scotty Welbourne at Warner Brothers, Ernest Bachrach at RKO, William Cronenworth at Columbia, John Engstead and Eugene Robert Richee at Paramount, and Ray Jones at Universal, whose work is on display in the book.

Hollywood in Kodachrome is broken down into subjects, beginning with "When Goddesses Roamed The Earth," a captivating 70-page section of Hollywood beauties in promotional pieces, on-set stills, and magazine covers.  In this section, one of my favorite arrangements is a full-page color photo of Lana Turner wearing a red dress from 1941.  On the next page is a black and white picture of photographer Paul Hesse shooting her during that session paired with the end result: the preceding picture on the cover of Photoplay

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Yvonne De Carlo

In the next chapter, "Light and Illusion," the actors join the actresses.  Lucille Ball is the focus of "Technicolor Tessie," a nickname she earned because many considered her "technically perfect and colorful from any angle."  "The Posed Candid," a style pioneered by Bruno Bernard aka Bernard of Hollywood, finds the stars in more causal settings, such as in a home and around a pool. 

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Trudy Marshall, Jeanne Crain, Gale Robbins, June Haver
and Mary Anderson

Photos from "Stars and Stripes" were taken during the '40s, predominantly while WWII was ongoing, so the stars appear in patriotic garb.  Most of the men are shown in their military uniforms.  The book concludes with "Selling The Dream" where the talent gets involved in advertising such as Gregory Peck in a Chesterfield Cigarette ad to help promote Duel in the Sun and Rita Hayworth in a Max Factor lipstick ad in conjunction with Gilda.

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Rita Hayworth

Unfortunately, words alone cannot do justice to the more than more than 250 photographs, some rare and others never before seen, which appear Hollywood in Kodachrome.  But trust me when I write that I can't imagine any classic Hollywood fan not wanting to flip through the book repeatedly to fondly gaze at the history and beauty on display in these marvelous images.

All photos and advertisements are from the David Wills collection

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