Michael Hollister

        Michael A. Hollister
Novelist & Critic


Patrick Garry, novelist

(Film review excerpt from novel Follywood)

Key Largo

    Huston had a new passion too. He talked with expansive gestures about his next picture Key Largo, a play he was adapting to the screen, again with Bogart and Bacall. They were leaving soon to shoot in Florida. That was a wonderful thing about making movies, they all agreed, you were constantly renewing yourself, moving on to another project, another life almost. Bogart seemed especially anxious to move on. Huston squinted at him and declared, "Just when you get to know an actor in one role, he becomes someone else!" Bogart squirmed. Actually, Huston was not ready to move on. He wanted revenge. He paced around, ranting like Captain Ahab. He was twisting his adaptation into an attack on the House Committee, turning his next picture into a wish fulfillment reversal of history starring Bogart as a liberal and war hero who does not back down, who defeats the forces of the right wing, represented as gangsters led by the squinting heavy-jowled icon of evil Edward G. Robinson.

    Eisley stretched his brain to accommodate Huston, trying to imagine virtually the entire U.S. House of Representatives, both parties, as rightwing gangsters for voting by landslides to send the Ten to prison for contempt of Congress, and trying to see the Communists as innocent liberal war heroes. Drinking stimulated cartoon thinking. Huston also intended to defy the Blacklist by casting as one of the gangsters the Communist Marc Lawrence. After they saw the picture, the Eisleys thought his allegory was so confusing and imperceptible, except in a few scenes, that it would never be recognized as Communist propaganda. John talked louder and wilder the more he drank and referred to the FBI with defiant contempt, as if the room might be bugged.

Follywood, pages 177-78
Apocalypse Now
The Best Years of Our Lives
The Big Chill
Billy Budd
The Bostonians
Citizen Kane
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Coming Home
Daisy Miller
The Day of the Locust
Dr. Strangelove
Easy Rider
A Farewell to Arms
The Front
Gone with the Wind
Good Night, and Good Luck
The Graduate
The Grapes of Wrath
The Great Gatsby
Guilty by Suspicion
High Noon
Huckleberry Finn
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Key Largo
The Majestic
Meet John Doe
The Old Man and the Sea
On the Waterfront
The Player
The Red Badge of Courage
The Scarlet Letter
The Shrike, based on Miss Lonelyhearts
2001: A Space Odyssey
The Sun Also Rises
Triumph of the Will
The Way We Were
Wise Blood
The Wizard of Oz
The World According to Garp

Three historical novels dramatize Hollywood's global influence from the 1930s to the present age of terrorism, through the life stories of Sarah McCloud, a farm girl from Oregon, and Ryan Eisley, the son of a beer distributor from Ohio.

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Hollywood and spirituality in the 1930s. The first marriages of Sarah and Ryan illustrate effects of popular culture on morality. When her husband Burke leaves her, Sarah must separate from her little boy and goes to work in a defense plant. Ryan rises from gas pump attendant to movie director at the Fox studio, with sordid adventures at a Hollywood brothel and an orgy hosted by a horror star. He adapts stories pertinent to his life, including a comic biopic of theologian Jonathan Edwards. Their lives converge to an inspirational ending as the nation rallies after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, a time when Americans felt united as a country. In the climax, Burke fights in the battle of Tarawa. (2004)  
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Hollywood in the 1940s-50s, with deep focus on directors, writers and politics. Sarah marries Ryan and they produce independent films adapting American classics, while she tries to overcome his infidelities with scripts and actresses. Their lives and films dramatize the dominant political and aesthetic conflicts in Hollywood. Their first collaboration is a true untold story of heroism by black tank commanders in WWII. Then they become involved on both sides of the Blacklist scandal with Women in Hemingway starring John Huston, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Tracy and Hepburn influence them while making Blithedale, Orson Welles takes over their Pierre and Stalin courts Judy Garland in their Flowering Judas. (2005)  
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The Eisleys film Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, then during the 1960s Ryan turns countercultural and documents the black civil rights, hippie and anti-Vietnam War movements. Their son Davin serves as a medic in Vietnam, while Sarah tries to hold their family together, becomes a film critic in San Francisco, then moves to Portland and enters the Hollyworld of higher education. Their story is interwoven with films including Billy Budd, Dr. Strangelove, The Graduate, Woodstock, Easy Rider, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters, Apocalypse Now, Reds, The Big Chill, The Player and The Passion. It exposes Communist propaganda movies, ridicules political correctness, satirizes Marxist movie stars and professors and culminates with the Iraq War. (2006)  
Peter Carafiol
Free Speech
Hollywood Novels
Communist propaganda