Most film histories concentrate on the classy stuff: artistic achievement, stylistic movements etc. But this book looks at the other stuff.
The title of the book echoes that of Kenneth Anger's Hollywood Babylon, the ground-breaking piece of gossip mongering that blew the lid off virtually every scandal of Hollywood's golden age. The title does the book a disservice since it has neither the jaw-dropping pictures of the original nor the major league secrets of major league stars to uncover. The nearest equivalent to Shepperton Babylon is Brownlow's The Parade's Gone By; though instead of an oral history of Hollywood's silent days we have a history of the bits of British film history the critics tend to overlook.
For the book Sweet interviewed many figures who had long since dropped into obscurity. He got to some of them just in time. So we get to hear stories from the likes of Victoria Hopper and Rene Gadd as well as from more mainstream figures like Norman Wisdom (who's treated very unkindly, in my opinion). Their stories run from the early days of the movies to the fag end of the seventies.
The book is an entertaining read and helps reinstate figures who have been unjustly forgotten.
Pub: Faber and Faber
ISBN: 0 571 21297 2
Price: £12.99 (UK)Shepperton Babylon: Available at Amazon UK