The Whole Equation (2004) David Thomson's strong opinions and acerbic prose made his New Biographical Dictionary of Film uncommonly enjoyable for a reference work, and those qualities ensure that… 2004-11-30 Nonfiction Knopf
Book Review

The Whole Equation (2004)

Details Release Date: Nov 30, 2004; Writer: David Thomson; Genre: Nonfiction; Publisher: Knopf

David Thomson's strong opinions and acerbic prose made his New Biographical Dictionary of Film uncommonly enjoyable for a reference work, and those qualities ensure that The Whole Equation is no less entertaining. Using Chinatown and F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Last Tycoon (the source of the title) as moral touchstones, Thomson puts a contemporary spin on Hollywood's origins by crunching the numbers in Greta Garbo's contract, dissecting the budget of Gone With the Wind, and psychoanalyzing pioneering producers Irving Thalberg and David O. Selznick. Less a proper history of the American film industry than a meditation on its significance, Thomson's engrossing book blows the dust off forgotten scandals (the mysterious death of Jean Harlow's probably gay husband) and offers vivid examples of money's toxifying power, proving over and over that some things never change.

Originally posted Dec 13, 2004 Published in issue #797 Dec 17, 2004 Order article reprints