Sam Wasson

Five Things I've Learned About

The Last Time I Saw Hollywood

Presented in partnership with John Kochman

LIVE: Sunday, December 55:00pm pacific / 8:00pm eastern

Join celebrated author Sam Wasson in this live, 90-minute class and discover the five things he’s learned about Hollywood’s second golden age, and the ways that those few gorgeous years in the late sixties and early seventies illuminate the challenges shaping the film industry today.

Online Event Details

  • 90 minutes

Price

  • Single ticket for session - $40.00
Add to Calendar 12/05/2021 05:00 PM 12/05/2021 06:00 PM America/Los_Angeles Sam Wasson | The Last Time I Saw Hollywood

Join celebrated author Sam Wasson in this live, 90-minute class and discover the five things he’s learned about Hollywood’s second golden age, and the ways that those few gorgeous years in the late sixties and early seventies illuminate the challenges shaping the film industry today.

https://myfivethings.com/class/sam-wasson-the-last-time-i-saw-hollywood/

Join Richard Peña and me in this live, 90-minute class and discover the five things I’ve learned about Hollywood’s second golden age, and the ways that those few gorgeous years in the late sixties and early seventies illuminate the challenges shaping the film industry today.

We have to talk. 

It’s way past time to look very closely at the few gorgeous years in the late sixties and early seventies we call — rightly, I think — Hollywood’s second golden age. We know the names — Coppola, Bogdanovich, Warren Beatty, Jane Fonda, Robert Evans, Sue Mengers, Pauline Kael… — and we know the movies — Godfather, Taxi Driver, Nashville…— but what have we learned? 

Have we learned?

Not for better does the Hollywood of today bare no resemblance to the industry of fifty years ago. Can something be done about it? (I don’t know.) Should something be done about it? (Yes!)

These are themes and questions I approach time and again in my books, FosseThe Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of HollywoodFifth Avenue: 5 AM, Paul on Mazursky…all different parts of a single ongoing story, Hollywood.  

In this conversation with the great Richard Pena, I hope to do the hard work of growing from history, to first look, with honest eyes, at the past, then turn those eyes to the present, and ask, sincerely, Where do we go from here?

These are tough questions to ask about any industry, but when it comes to an art / business as complicated as Hollywood — a labyrinthine Catch-22 of personalities, technology, politics, businessmen, artists… — it is especially challenging to see a way through. 

And yet…there once was a way through. How else to explain not just one Godfather, but two? How else to explain, not just two Godfathers, but The Conversation in between? It was not an accident. We know that because it kept happening — not just to Coppola, but to Scorsese, to Altman, to Ashby…Why?

No renaissance can be explained by luck alone — and this one is no exception. 

I think I know why. In my work, over the years, I’ve learned five, maybe even ten reasons why. And with Richard’s insight, I know I’ll learn more. How lucky for me…For us…

And the time has never been more right. With today’s Hollywood in crisis, the opportunity to re-interrogate the system is very urgently at hand. No ivory-tower discussion this!

We tell film history for the same reason we tell any kind of history — the same reason we do anything. To brighten the future…the make the second draft better than the first…

Sam Wasson

L.A. native Sam Wasson studied Film at Wesleyan University and at the USC School of Cinematic Arts before publishing his first book, A Splurch in the Kisser: The Movies of Blake Edwards, which film critic Andrew Sarris deemed “the critical resurrection of Blake Edwards."

In 2010, Wasson's Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman became a New York and Los Angeles Times Best Seller. The book has been translated into over a dozen languages, and was named by Entertainment Weekly one of the best pop-culture books of all time. 

Paul on Mazursky, Wasson’s 2011 book of conversations with the legendary writer-director of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and Down and Out in Beverly Hills, moved director Quentin Tarantino to declare Paul Mazursky "one of the great writer-directors of cinema.”

Fosse, Wasson’s award-winning 2013 biography of the legendary director-choreographer, appeared on over a half-dozen Best of the Year lists and was called “one of the most eloquent showbiz accounts in years” by the Chicago Tribune. In conjunction with the Paley Center for Media, Wasson unearthed "Seasons of Youth," a lost 1961 Fosse television special, now publicly available at the Paley Center's archives in New York and Los Angeles. 

In addition to his work as an author, Wasson has written for numerous publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Yorker. He’s served as a consultant for The National Comedy Center in New York and The Film Society of Lincoln Center, was a Visiting Professor of Film at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and Emerson College in Los Angeles. As panelist and lecturer Wasson has appeared all over the world, from the 92nd Street Y in New York to The Second City in Chicago and the Rome International Film Festival, and has been a featured guest on CNN, BBC, Fox, ABC, NPR, and for The Criterion Collection.

In 2017, The New York Times called Wasson's latest book, Improv Nation: How We Made A Great American Art, "one of the most important stories in American popular culture."

His latest book, The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood, was a New York Times Best Seller. “Sam Wasson’s deep dig into the making of the film,” Janet Maslin wrote, “is a work of exquisite precision. It’s about much more than a movie. It’s about the glorious lost Hollywood in which that 1974 movie was born.”

In 2020, he and producer Brandon Millan founded Felix Farmer Press to publish necessary books, each a limited edition, on the art, business, culture and history of the Hollywood film. Their first book, The Marvel Universe: Origin Stories, by Bruce Wagner, is available exclusively at Book Soup.

Sam lives in Los Angeles.

Richard Pena

Richard Peña is a Professor of Film and Media Studies at Columbia University, where he specializes in film theory and international cinema. From 1988 to 2012, he was the Program Director of the Film Society of  Lincoln Center and the Director of the New York Film Festival. At the Film Society, Richard Peña organized retrospectives of many film artists, including Michelangelo Antonioni, Sacha Guitry, Abbas Kiarostami,  King Hu, Robert Aldrich, Roberto Gavaldon, Ritwik  Ghatak, Kira Muratova, Fei Mu, Jean Eustache, Youssef Chahine, Yasujiro Ozu, Carlos Saura, Nagisa Oshima and Amitabh Bachchan, as well as major film series devoted to African, Israeli, Cuban, Polish, Hungarian, Chinese, Arab, Korean, Swedish, Turkish, German, Taiwanese and Argentine cinema. Together with Unifrance, he created in 1995 “Rendez-Vous with French Cinema,” the leading American showcase for new French cinema. A frequent lecturer on film internationally, in 2014-2015, he was a Visiting Professor in Brazilian Studies at Princeton, and in 2015-2016 a Visiting Professor in Film Studies at Harvard. He also taught courses at the Sorbonne, Beijing University and the University of São Paulo. In May, 2016, he was the recipient of the “Cathedra Bergman” award at the UNAM in Mexico City, where he offered a three-part lecture series “On the Margins of American Cinema.” He also currently hosts WNET/Channel 13’s weekly Reel 13.

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