Home > Events > Amram Scholar Series Presents: Behind the Scenes of the Golden Age of Hollywood
For the final Amram Scholar Series lecture of the 2021-2022 programming year, WHC is welcoming an author and an editor who have investigated the golden age of Hollywood and some of its most famous players. Nick Davis, author of Competing with Idiots, and Noah Isenberg, editor of Billy Wilder on Assignment will join us for a panel discussion about the 1920s in Hollywood, and how the central figures of their books changed the entertainment industry forever.
This program is free and open to everyone. It will take place on Zoom.
Before Billy Wilder became the Academy Award-winning screenwriter and director of iconic films like Sunset Boulevard and Some Like It Hot, he worked as a freelance reporter, first in Vienna and then in Weimar, Berlin.
Billy Wilder on Assignment brings together more than 50 articles, translated into English for the first time, that Wilder (then known as “Billie”) published in magazines and newspapers between September 1925 and November 1930.
Wilder’s early writings—a heady mix of cultural essays, interviews, and reviews—contain the same sparkling wit and intelligence as his later Hollywood screenplays, while also casting light into the dark corners of Vienna and Berlin between the wars. Wilder covered everything: big-city sensations, jazz performances, film and theater openings, dance, photography, and all manner of mass entertainment. And he wrote about the most colorful figures of the day, including Charlie Chaplin, Cornelius Vanderbilt, the Prince of Wales, actor Adolphe Menjou, director Erich von Stroheim, and the Tiller Girls dance troupe. Film historian Noah Isenberg’s introduction and commentary place Wilder’s pieces—brilliantly translated by Shelley Frisch—in historical and biographical context, and rare photos capture Wilder and his circle during these formative years.
Filled with rich reportage and personal musings, Billy Wilder on Assignment showcases the burgeoning voice of a young journalist who would go on to become a great auteur.
Click here to purchase this book through WHC’s Mitzvah Mall
About the Editor:
Noah Isenberg is the George Christian Centennial Professor and Chair of the Department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas at Austin. His many books include We’ll Always Have “Casablanca” and Weimar Cinema.
A fascinating, complex dual biography of Hollywood’s most dazzling—and famous—brothers, Herman and Joe Mankiewicz, Competing with Idiots is a dark, riveting portrait of competition, love, and enmity that ultimately undid them both.
Herman Mankiewicz went to Hollywood in 1926 and was almost immediately successful, becoming one of the
highest-paid screenwriters. Credits to his name include the Marx Brothers’ Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, Duck Soup, W.C. Fields’s Million Dollar Legs, wrote screenplays for Dinner at Eight, Pride of the Yankees, and 89 other films. He also has a writing credit for Citizen Kane.
Joe, eleven years younger, was focused, organized, and a disciplined writer with a far more distinguished career. He worshiped his older brother but quickly surpassed him professionally, producing The Philadelphia Story and writing and directing A Letter to Three Wives, and All About Eve.
Davis, the grandson of Herman and great-nephew of Joe, meticulously weaves the lives of these two men together. In this large, moving portrait, we see their dreams and desires, fears and feuds, struggles to free themselves from their dark past, and the driving forces that kept them bound to a system they loved and hated.
About the Author:
Nick Davis is a writer, director, and producer. His book, Competing With Idiots: Herman and Joe Mankiewicz: A Dual Portrait, was recently published by Knopf, and his film about the 1986 Mets, Once Upon a Time in Queens, recently aired on ESPN and is now available on streaming platforms.
Presented in partnership with the Jewish Book Council
Sunday, May 22
10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Adult Ed, Amram, Lecture
3935 Macomb Street NW
Washington, DC 20016
11810 Falls Road
Potomac, MD 20854
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