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History vs Hollywood (Hardback)

How the Past is Filmed

Military > Pre-WWI > American History P&S History > Social History World History > The Americas > USA

By M J Trow
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 264
Illustrations: 20 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399066501
Published: 30th March 2024


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Film studios have been making historical movies now for over a century. In that time, thousands of films have been made covering not just centuries but millennia. Did Neanderthal woman really look like Raquel Welch in her bearskin bikini? Did 6,000 rebellious slaves claim that they were Spartacus? Did Berengaria complain to her husband, Richard the Lionheart, ‘War, war; that’s all you think about, Dick Plantagenet’? Was El Cid strapped to his horse’s saddle to lead his army after he was dead? These aren’t questions of history; they are questions of Hollywood.

Charlton Heston was a foot too tall for General Charles Gordon. John Wayne was a tad too American for Genghis Khan. Eric von Stroheim’s bald head was an odd choice for the perfectly hirsute Erwin Rommel. And Warren Beatty and Fay Dunaway were far too gorgeous for bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde.

Hollywood never gets it right. History and its characters are endlessly complicated, and producers, directors and screenwriters have a simple story to tell. They have a maximum of two hours to explain what happened over weeks or months or years and many of it give it their best shot.

Yet for all Hollywood’s shortcomings in recreating the past, it has managed to evoke eras and people long dead in a magical way that has kept millions of us enthralled for generations.

This title has loads of examples of historic inaccuracies in films, from choice of actor, accuracy if an event, dress faux pas, location choices and much more. It’s a genuinely interesting exploration of films and poetic licence.

NetGalley, Anita Wallas

For the reader who wants to know more about the films Trow covers, this book in a treasure trove. It also provides a wonderful perspective on the historical authenticity, or lack of authenticity, on a multitude of films in a wide range of genres. It is fun to read, and I enjoyed doing so.

NetGalley, Robin Joyce

History vs Hollywood is a fascinating journey through the movie industry's treatment of the facts in its pursuit of the next historical blockbuster. From Spartacus to Bonnie & Clyde, The Longest Day to Cleopatra, the cinema has played fast and loose with the facts of history. Yet historical films continue to draw big crowds, win awards and fascinate the public -- nevermind accuracy. M. J. Trow sets the record straight in a light, easy-to-read book that I found particularly interesting in regard to the movies of the first and second World Wars, but as a history buff, I must say the entire book was engaging. Far more than a dry reference book, the reader can enjoy the author's dry sense of humor and the sense of the inevitablity of the movie process and it's ongoing mission to make our history and heritage better, more visual, more memorable or perhaps more interesting than it might have actually been. A great read for anyone who loves film, history or just wants to take a literary stroll though some of Hollywoods best -- and worst -- efforts.

NetGalley, Leslee Borger

This was an ideal choice for me as I love reading books about cinema and I’m really interested in history.
This was a really informative and entertaining read and I think it was written and researched very well.
I wasn’t surprised because I’m a big fan of the variety of Pen and Sword publications.
Highly recommended

NetGalley, Alison Bevington

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

History v Hollywood is a fascinating account comparing the delights and inconsistencies between history and the big screen.

Well-written and an interesting account. Recommended.

NetGalley, Wendy M Rhodes

This was a thoroughly enjoyable book that examined different historical themed films over time. It was well written and accessible to audiences regardless of their historical knowledge or their knowledge and understanding of film.

NetGalley, Emily Walker

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was a very interesting to read to learn about the fact vs fiction in Hollywood and see how sometimes they have got it right or very incorrect!

NetGalley, A D

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

What a unique book! I love Hollywood themed books and acquiring them for our readers and to see this really cool one which combines history with Hollywood is so very cool! Readers are going to love this! I know I do!

NetGalley, Jill Speedman (Librarian)

About M J Trow

M.J. Trow is the author of nearly 100 books covering crime fiction, true crime and historical biography. He is a military historian by training, lectures extensively in the UK and overseas, and has appeared regularly on the History and Discovery Channels. He can be heard in podcasts on all the usual platforms, both as a guest and the main presenter on both historical and true crime subjects. He lives in the Isle of Wight.

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