The tragic and mysterious circumstances surrounding the deaths of Elizabeth Short, or the Black Dahlia, and Marilyn Monroe ripped open Hollywood’s glitzy façade, exposing the city's ugly underbelly of corruption, crime, and murder. These two spectacular dead bodies, one found dumped and posed in a vacant lot in January 1947, the other found dead in her home in August 1962, bookend this new history of Hollywood. Short and Monroe are just two of the many left for dead after the collapse of the studio system, Hollywood’s awkward adolescence when the company town’s many competing subcultures—celebrities, moguls, mobsters, gossip mongers, industry wannabes, and desperate transients—came into frequent contact and conflict. Hard-Boiled Hollywood focuses on the lives lost at the crossroads between a dreamed-of Los Angeles and the real thing after the Second World War, where reality was anything but glamorous."
Jon Lewis is the Distinguished Professor of Film Studies and University Honors College Eminent Professor at Oregon State University. He has published eleven books, including Whom God Wishes to Destroy . . . : Francis Coppola and the New Hollywood and Hollywood v. Hard Core: How the Struggle over Censorship Saved the Modern Film Industry, is past editor of Cinema Journal, and served on the Executive Council of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies.
"This book is a fascinating on-location excursion down the mean streets of a metastasizing metropolis and the shuttered backlots of a sputtering studio system, an anthropological thick description of the gangsters, stars, hustlers, hookers, and hangers-on in the lonely place that is Hollywood."—Thomas Doherty, Professor of American Studies, Brandeis University
"Where previously Lewis focused most on top-level power plays and money grabs, he now trenchantly probes Hollywood's underworlds: grifters, gossip-mongers, and gangsters, loners and losers—bodies 'left by the side of the road.' A fascinating rewriting of Hollywood history, especially around production culture, including cultures of failure and despair." —Dana Polan, Cinema Studies, New York University