review A Cast of Killers 107

Sidney D. Kirkpatrick ☆ 7 review

review A Cast of Killers 107 æ On February 1 1922 the distinguished silent film director William Desmond Taylor was shot to death in his Los Angeles bungalow by an unknown assailant Reports of strange activities at the scene of the crime circulated soon after When the police arrived was the head of Paramount Studios burning a bundle of papers in the fireplace anOn February 1 1922 the distinguished silent film director William Desmond Taylor was shot to death in his Los Angeles bungalow by an unknown assailant Reports of strange activities at the scene of the crime circulated soon after When the police arrived was the head of Paramount Studios burning a bundle of papers in the fireplace and was a well known actress searching the house for letters she claimed were hers Despite a full scale investigation the case was never solved; for sixty years is has remained a lingering Hollywood scandal In 1967 than forty years after Taylor's death t. King Vidor was a legendary film director largely forgotten by Hollywood at the time of his death Sydney Kirkpatrick came to Vidor's home after his death to research a well deserved biography but instead discovered a buried box full of virtual dynamite In the box were notes for a planned project which was to be the director's comeback film But the explosive nature of his findings had prompted Vidor to bury it literallyThis book is based on what Kirkpatrick found in that box It is full of mystery and murder love and lust and in the end sadness at the solving of one of the most famous and sensational scandels in the history of tinsletown It is a mesmerizing journey into the early days of Hollywood and the lengths it would go to to cover up its secretsIn 1922 the murder of director William Desmond Taylor was so filled with scandel it ruined careers and nearly destroyed Hollywood If the absolute truth had been known it might have King Vidor had been a part of this Hollywood in its formative years and planned to make his comeback film by telling the story of it Kirkpatrick could have turned this into a pulp type expose but instead and to his credit takes a respectful and nostalgic tone both for Vidor and a time gone by He uses Vidor's notes and findings to let this murder mystery unfold just as it did for VidorFor every film buff with a fascination for old Hollywood this is a book you can't put down It is juicy but never tawdry Vidor sifting through the misinformation of Hollywood and the alleged corruption of the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office of the period to slowly paint a picture of the truth He eventually decided not to tell the story because some of the players were still alive The Taylor homicide and its aftermath is filled with names like Mabel Normand Alan Dwan James Kirkwood Gloria Swanson Claire Windsor and Charolette Shelby and her lovely waif like daughter Mary Miles Minter an early rival of Mary PickfordVidor's reputation and the fact he had been a part of this Hollywood way back when gave him gravitas and would prompt many to open up and talk to Vidor in a way in which they might not have to someone else He would even get to look at police files that would contradict nearly all of what was reported at the time raising even uestionsAs Vidor plays detective in order to write the screenplay that he hoped would put him back on top Kirkpatrick cast a spotlight on a man who was once a vital part of the film industry struggling to be remembered During his investigation Vidor would come into contact with old flame Coleen Moore a lovely silent star with a fine career of her own It was a happy coincidence yet it would force Vidor to make decisions affecting the rest of his life and does not whitewash his failingsA Cast of Killers is a fun fast read tinged with sadness King Vidor somehow knew it would be Before beginning his investigation the legendary director likened it to an old bottle of wine If you love a good mystery andor Hollywood this is one you have to readI realized it was vintage stuff the rarest vintage of all a murder that has never been solved One opens such a bottle at his own perilKing Vidor 1967

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He great King Vidor whose directing credits include Northwest Passage The Fountainhead Duel in the Sun and War and Peace determined to solve the mystery which had haunted him throughout his career in order to make a film about it Through his intimate knowledge of both the studios and the stars he succeeded where dozens of professional detectives had failed in discovering the identity of the murderer But because his findings were so explosive he decided he could never go public and locked his evidence away After Vidor's death in 1982 Sidney D Kirkpatrick Vidor's authorized biogra. I found this wonderful gem in pristine condition in a used bookstore I absolutely hung on every word of how the story unfolded For anyone who loves old hollywood and mystery A Cast of Killers is an absolute must read I had heard of the William Desmond Taylor murder when I was a boy and always wanted to learn about it This book is as close as I believe any one has ever come to learning much of what was kept hidden from the publicGreat book

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A Cast of KillersPher gained access to the evidence and reconstructed the amazing story of Taylor's murder and Vidor's investigation With a cast of suspects that includes the actress Mabel Normand a reputed drug addict; the beautiful ingénue Mary Miles Minter; Mary's domineering mother Charlotte Shelby; Taylor's homosexual houseman; and Taylor's secretary who bore an uncanny resemblance to Taylor's mysteriously elusive brother this true crime story has all the elements of a classic murder mystery Covered up for than half a century the full story can now be told in all its riveting shocking deta. “they realized they had a ‘rug show’ on their hands the kind of film with too many interiors”