SCANDAL//Hollywood Babylon-Kenneth Anger


I’ve spent most of the summer so far listening to the You Must Remember This podcast, which explores all elements of 20th century Hollywood- a topic I have long been fascinated by. Karina Longworth, the host, frequently references this book which any good cinephile should be both aware and beware of. Covering successive scandals from the silent era to the mid-20th century.

I toyed with labelling this book ‘non-fiction’, but that would be giving it a gravitas it doesn’t deserve. Written by Kenneth Anger, a former child star and director of B movies, it’s a book full of scandal-rag stories which have long since been disproved. However, it is interesting in terms of giving a reader a look at the seedier side of Hollywood, even if it is fictional. I’ve used it as a launchpad for research I’ve been doing for something I’m doing, if only because it then led me to look up more reliable sources to factcheck what I’ve read (Anger has said that a lot of his ‘research’ was merely ‘hunches’ he had from communicating with the dead… AHEM.)

What I will say is that this book is a cult classic of Hollywood scholarship and should be treated as a sort of weird curiosity. The ‘stories’ are short and may well prod you into looking into a scandal, or a star, in greater detail. I’d recommend a look- but take it with a pinch of salt.

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