Old Hollywood Favorites
How classic films like Casablanca and the movie stars of the 1930s and 40s such as Clark Gable and Bette Davis inspired author Kelly Durham’s new series set during (you guessed it) the Golden Age of Hollywood.
I enjoy old movies; and I think many of us relish in the glitz and glamour of old Hollywood. A fun night for me is to park myself in front of the TV, tune in to Turner Classic Movies or Netflix, Amazon, Apple and other outlets that offer classic movies, and enjoy two uninterrupted hours of old-fashioned movie magic. My favorite classic movie is undeniably Casablanca. It features a magnificent cast, witty dialogue and a timeless story of romance and the triumph of good over evil. Forty-five years after my first viewing, I still can’t watch the scene in which Victor Lazlo leads Rick’s patrons in the Marseillaise without getting goose bumps. I like it when the good guys win!
The Hollywood that produced Casablanca back in 1942 was the focal point for American culture. One out of every two Americans went to the movies each week to catch up on what was happening in the world through newsreels and to be entertained by cartoons, short features and full-length motion pictures. The movie stars of the 1930s and ‘40s were larger than life: Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Bette Davis, Shirley Temple. The stars were so important to the movie-making industry that they were paid enormous salaries and could—frequently did—get away with outrageous behavior. Mickey Rooney, the top box office star in 1939, ’40 and ’41, eventually got released from his contract with MGM because studio head Louis Mayer complained that he couldn’t have “Andy Hardy” getting married and divorced every year. Rooney and Mayer are just two of the colorful characters that populated Hollywood during its golden era.
Characters like these drew me into the myths and legends of old Hollywood, where the stars shone brightly every night and still managed to make it to the set the next day. The film industry generated great wealth and wielded enormous influence. It also, then as now, attracted the ire of politicians who often felt it was easier to campaign against the movie moguls than against general election opponents. This is why my new series is set in old Hollywood, one of the most fascinating and influencing times in America and the world. How could it not make for an exciting setting and cast of characters?
My latest book, also the first book in the series, The Movie Star and Me, is set in Hollywood in 1945 and follows Frank Russell, a recently discharged soldier as he stumbles into a job at the fictitious Pacific Pictures Studios. Frank eventually stumbles in to more than a job—and that’s where things get really interesting.
Kelly Durham lives in Clemson, SC with his wife Yvonne. They are the parents of Mary Kate, Addison and Callie and also provide for their dog, George Marshall. A graduate of Clemson University, Kelly served four years in the US Army with assignments in Arizona and Germany before returning to Clemson and entering private business. Kelly is the also the author of The War Widow, Berlin Calling, Wade’s War and The Reluctant Copilot. Check out all Kelly’s books and blog about his writing journey at kellydurham.com.
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