There was a time in Hollywood when still photography was as integral to the on-site filmmaking process as the actual reels themselves, and carefully selected publicity shots gave each title—and star—a lasting presence beyond the big screen. Hollywood Frame by Frame goes behind the scenes with imperfect outtakes from iconic films before they were moving pictures.
The book is filled with contact sheets from 1951 to 1997—an eternity revolutionized by technological advances in and outside the industry—and author Karina Longworth offers a sweet bit of history to kick things off.
In the early days—as early as 1910—cinematographers would snap pics on the job, for glossy gossip mags, ads, and production and "special effects" teams. In the 1930s, a separate "unit photographer" was a standard staffer on most projects to help feed the growing media demand for celebrity news. Even then, the output was extensively edited, and the extras that weren't chosen never saw the light of day, many times because they were contractually required to stay private to preserve the image of the star.
Unfortunately, many of these artifacts were simply trashed after theatrical release and public run (which is to say nothing of all the pre-1929 films that have been lost due to fire or deterioration). "The contact sheets collected in this book are thus doubly unique, for the sheer fact that someone saw fit to save them—or rescue them," Longworth writes in the introduction. "As photographer Bruce McBroom, who shot stills on the sets of films such as What's Up Doc?, The Godfather Part II, and 48 Hours puts it: 'Most of Hollywood history has survived because someone dug it out of the trash.'"
You can purchase Hollywood Frame by Frame here, but in the meantime check out these fantastic alternative takes. I feel like looking at stuff like this presents a whole new kind of bizarro, unpolished world where famous folks are actually—gasp!—humans, just like us.
Photo by Peter Stackpole/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Archive Photos/Getty Images
© Sid Avery/mptvimages.com
Paramount/The Kobal Collection/Howell Conant
Photo by Bill Ray/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images