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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

November 10, 1996|Kenneth Turan

THE LOST ARTWORK OF HOLLYWOOD: Classic Images From Cinema's Golden Age by Fred E. Basten. Foreword by Ted Sennett (Watson-Guptill Publications: $40, 192 pp.). Though it may be a stretch to consider the Hollywood trade papers (Daily Variety, the Hollywood Reporter and the now-defunct Motion Picture Daily) repositories of lost art on a par with Russia's Hermitage, this book asks you to make the effort. Collected within its covers is a fascinating compilation of artwork that was created to stir up interest and excitement strictly within the confines of the movie industry. Celebrated artists were commissioned, leading to combinations both ideal (Al Hirschfeld on the Marx Brothers' "A Night at the Opera") and unnerving (pinup specialist Alberto Vargas on Shirley Temple in "Dimples"). Some of these ads even contained chatty messages intended for theater owners, like the peppy "They've Come to Make Your Holiday Happy!" attached to the art for "After the Thin Man." Most interesting are the visuals (like the one executed for 1948's "Key Largo") that look surprisingly contemporary even half a century after the fact.

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