In 1939, fifty million Americans went to the movies every week, Louis B. Mayer was the highest paid man in the country and Hollywood produced 530 feature films. One decade and 5000 movies later and the studios were faltering. The forties became the decade of Hollywood's decline: anticommunist hysteria excommunicated some of its best talent, while a 1948 antitrust consent decree ended many of the business practices that made the studio system so profitable. CITY OF NETS tells the story of Hollywood's heyday and decline in a sweeping social and cultural history that encompasses everything from Rita Hayworth's electrolysis to the Zoot Suit riots.
Friedrich draws from celebrity bios to trade-union history, mingling lively gossip with analysis of Hollywood's seedier business dealings, including studio heads' willingness to rely on gangsters to solve their labor problems. With brilliant anecdotes, Friedrich captures a decaying, glamorous culture.