Picks and Pans Review: Striking Poses

updated 05/11/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/11/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Richard Schickel

They just don't make cheesecake photos like they used to. The old Hollywood studios had their actresses under contract, and as part of the star-building process, the women were forced to pose for publicity pictures. This book is a collection of those photographs, all in color, and the glimpse they give us into the past is clear evidence that when it comes to show business or fad or fashion, time is the greatest joker of all. These pictures are hilarious. Even the names of long-forgotten starlets seem funny. Olga San Juan, a blonde in red, slides down a fake snow hill with a big, white teddy bear. Muriel Barr shows off a gold bathing suit and a white telephone. Shelley Winters (then a svelte beauty) lounges on pink pillows in red briefs and fishnet stockings. Some major stars are here, too: Cary Grant plays a harp. Elizabeth Taylor plays with a chipmunk. Betty Grable imitates her famous pinup. And pages of bright orange faces with heavily lipsticked mouths stare out, frozen in self-conscious poses for a studio photographer. TIME film critic Schickel has supplied the affectionate commentary, noting, "Here are lifestyles of the rich and famous with the anxiety airbrushed out." Oh, and there's even a bare-chested Ronald Reagan opening his gate to welcome everybody onto his ranch. (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $24.95)

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