Julie Crawford, a recent graduate of Smith College and native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, has arrived at Selznick International Pictures to work as an office assistant. Through a few turns of luck she becomes the personal assistant to Carole Lombard, the bubbly actress rumored to be romantically attached to Clark Gable.
Gable has been contracted to interpret the dashing Rhett Butler in the production of Gone with the Wind. Lombard has been brought along to help him cope with the nightmare that the filming has become.
David O. Selznick has a very clear picture of what he wants to see as the final product. He doesn’t tolerate deviations from his vision or dissension. He will fight Louis B. Mayer, the head of MGM and his in-law; he will fire George Cukor (the first director) and bring along Victor Fleming (fresh from filming of The Wizard of Oz); he will hire an army of screenwriters and reject every screenplay if necessary but the result will be nothing short of perfection.
All along, Julie will learn to navigate the treacherous waters of Hollywood and become Carole’s good friend. And she will realize her dreams and become the woman she ever thought of becoming.
A Touch of Stardust is a fascinating and meticulous account of the filming of Gone with the Wind. It is an ode to the movies and the magic of movie making, to the glamour and decadence of an age gone by, to the movie stars who were part of it, and to the making of movie history.
Alcott takes us on a tour backstage to show us the technical aspects of movie making: the writing of a script (and its likely dissection), the building (and burning) of a set, the direction and production stages, and the battle of egos from all the big personalities involved.
DISCLAIMER: I received from the publisher a free egalley of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.