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Hollywood in the 1940s-50s, with deep focus on directors, writers and politics.  A 20th Century Fox director and his wife make independent films adapting American classics and become involved in the Blacklist nightmare, while she tries to overcome his infidelities with scripts and actresses. Their lives, interwoven with their films, dramatize the dominant moral and aesthetic conflicts in Hollywood Their first collaboration is a true untold story of heroism by black tank commanders in WWII, starring Woody Strode.Then they scandalize the nation with Women in Hemingway starring John Huston, Bogart and Bacall.Tracy and Hepburn influence them while making Blithedale, Orson Welles takes over their Pierre and Stalin courts Judy Garland in Flowering Judas.Second in trilogy including Holywood (2004) and Hollyworld (2006).

Huston turned toward Ryan.

“Willy gets fifty percent of any profit off the top. Each of the four partners will split the rest. You and Hemingway, Bogey and me. I’ll talk to United Artists for distribution.”

His wide smile invited celebration.

The opportunity so excited Sarah that she did not resent very much being excluded from partnership, with Bacall, so long as she got screen credit. She saw the beauty of the deal to Huston, who would have to give very little time to the project. And to Bogart, who was involved in new contract negotiations at Warners and had been looking for the kind of deal that John Wayne and some other actors were getting, deferred payment with a percentage of the gross as a capital gain to lower his tax rate. Also, Bogey loved Huston, who had made him a star, though he had also been heard to call John a monster. Sarah and Ryan would be the only ones risking any money, and Willy of course. Every picture was a gamble and they would be betting the ranch and everything else they had. If the picture flopped, they would go bankrupt. The odds were good enough for Wyler though, and now they held five aces. Consequently, when they took a stroll outside to talk it over, they only took a few minutes.

As they returned, Huston smiled widely.

“What do you say, kids?”

Before Ryan could answer, having waited to bring it up, Sarah said, “I want screen credit with John.”

Huston laughed heartily in surprise.

“Hey, I like this kid,” said Bogart.

“I thought you would!”

“No whistling!” cautioned Bacall.

Huston called in his stenographer. He dictated a deal memo to send Hemingway. As soon as she returned with it, each partner signed. Everybody shook hands.

Sarah felt elated, modest and anxious. She wondered if anyone other than her husband had actually read her screenplay. Huston could have glanced through it and planned to make whatever changes he wanted during the shoots. She worried about keeping him faithful to the truth, the precise implications of the stories. Meanwhile, Bogart with his beer and Bacall with her martini were teasing each other about their roles, needling back and forth with a feisty affection. They had only been married for just over a year and Sarah saw how they could sell this picture. She just hoped that they would stay faithful.

Then Huston let the monkey out of its cage.

Sarah and Betty got out of the way and sat down on a sofa in the corner. The black monkey with a white face hopped onto a table and up onto Huston’s shoulder. John talked to it like a pirate and fed it peanuts. Ryan was showing Bogart something in the book of stories with his notes in it when the monkey leaped to the floor, snatched the book out of his hands and loped away.

“Hey!” Ryan yelled.Bogart swore in good humor and Huston roared with laughter, rocking like a drunken sailor while Ryan chased the animal to no avail. The monkey sat down high up on a ceiling beam, screeching and tearing out pages of the book and tossing them. Ryan staggered around trying to catch the pages as they came fluttering down. Finally the monkey dropped the book and scrambled down the wall and jumped up onto the table and peed into the pitcher of iced martinis! Bogart exploded into obscenities! He grabbed the monke

Michael Hollister was born in Los Angeles, where his father was in the movie business.  As a boy, he lived on a ranch in the San Fernando Valley, with neighbors including Clark Gable, John Huston and Andy Devine.  He served in the U.S. Army, graduated from the University of Oregon and taught fiction writing at Stanford while earning a Ph.D.  He has worked as a sketch artist, intelligence agent and professor of American literature.  The father of three children, he lives with his wife Judy and two west highland terriers in Brookings, Oregon.  He has published the novel Holywood and over thirty stories and articles in periodicals including Berkeley Fiction Review, North Atlantic Review, Wisconsin Review, Arizona Quarterly, Hawaii Review, Mississippi Review, The Explicator and Studies in the Novel.



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