Picture Author:Lillian Ross When New Yorker staff writer Lillian Ross heard that John Huston was planning to make a film of Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage, she decided she would follow the movie's progress "in order to learn whatever I might learn about the American motion-picture industry." In the spring of 1950, Huston visited New York and called the young writ... more »er to say that progress was not smooth: "Come on over, kid, and I'll tell you all about the hassle."
"the funniest tragedy that I have ever read."
William Shawn, then managing editor of The New Yorker, described Picture for the jacket of the first hardcover edition, writing: "On the surface, Miss Ross has written a precise, marvelously detailed account of how one motion-picture, The Red Badge of Courage, was made. Beyond that, exuberant, she has presented everything any sane person should want to know about how a big film studio functions. And beyond that, she has written what must be called, for lack of a more appropriate word, the definitive book on
the Hollywood community--its language, its manners, its preoccupations, its ideas. Last, she has
told a dramatic story about some extraordinary people, and, in a
triumph of interlineation, has
written a treatise on human nature." Lillian Ross's marvelous description of John Huston's work and the film's subsequent fate at the hands of its studio bosses was first published as a serial in The New Yorker and was released in book form as Picture in 1952. It remains the best account of the inner workings of Hollywood. Picture received tremendous praise not only for the sheer quality of the writing but also for its technical innovation--the presentation of reporting as a novel. Picture received plaudits from the worlds of film and literature in equal measure. Charles Chaplin acclaimed it as "a brilliant and sagacious bit of reporting," and S. N. Behrman deemed it« less