Wallflower Dispatches

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it’s just a book… “LIFE goes to the Movies”

May 27th, 2009 · No Comments · Coffee Table Books, It's just a Book


When Hollywood still ruled supreme in producing celluloid dreams in the 1930s, LIFE magazine hit the newsstands on high quality paper showing readers that photographs were as convincing as text to tell a story. Sold for a dime, the magazine became an instant hit.

With respected contributors such as Alfred Eisenstaedt, Margaret Bourke-White, Robert Capa, Lee Miller, and Edward Steichen amongst others, LIFE more or less invented the photo magazine. The combination of high-octane photojournalism and the tightly coordinated glamour of Hollywood produced a tantalising number of classic photo shots.

While the magazine enhanced the dream of California living, it also set about sneaking behind the scenes and thereby demystifying its glamour at the same time. With exclusive access to film sets, sound stages and the big studios of its day, LIFE captured the stars in everyday poses, a novelty at the time. 

One perfect example is Grace Kelly who was exclusively photographed making her last film before she left to marry her real-life Prince in Europe. With classic shots of Kelly at the Oscars with Audrey Hepburn, on the Paramount lot with her dresses or shopping and packing up her apartment in New York, LIFE used the opportunity to publicise the royal event.

While LIFE helped to create and perpetuate dreams, it also went behind the scenes showing the reader that it was mainly plastic and make-up that created many of the illusions that inspired millions of cinemagoers.

“LIFE goes to the Movies” is a selection of the great moments of cinema history – on and off the camera, a memory of when Hollywood and photojournalism were both at their pinnacle and most influential.

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