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August 01, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON

PICTURE by Lillian Ross (Anchor: $10; 270 pp.). Originally published in the New Yorker in 1952, Ross' account of the making of John Huston's "The Red Badge of Courage" still ranks among the most revealing books ever written about Hollywood. "Picture" offers an unmatched vision of the last days of the studio system, when $1.5 million was a big budget and directors moved from film to film (Huston was already at work on "The African Queen" when "Badge" was released). But many of Ross' observations remain strikingly contemporary, including the comment of producer Gottfried Reinhardt, "Everybody in Hollywood wants to be something he is not. . . . The writers want to be directors. The producers want to be writers. The actors want to be producers. The wives want to be painters. Everybody is frustrated. Nobody is happy."

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