These Books Take You Behind-The-Scenes Your Favorite Films

by Kerri Jarema
Warner Bros.

We all have that list of favorite movies that we watch over and over and over again. The lines we can quote by heart, but that still make us laugh. The plot twists we know are coming that still makes us gasp. And the couple we've watched get together on screen hundreds of times, but still makes us cry. You've probably found yourself watching your favorites and wishing you could have been a fly on the wall during the production. Did the actors get along as well as it looks on screen? Was their drama with the director? Did the budget hold up? And who was totally hooking up with who?

Luckily for all the film buffs out there, we've got tons of books that take you behind-the-scenes of your favorites, revealing secrets of the production, cast, crew and even the fans who have kept the legacy of these movies alive. Whether you're looking to dig into the Oscar-winning classics like Casablanca and The Wizard of Oz, or are more into modern favorites like You've Got Mail and Clueless, the 11 picks below dig into some of the most beloved, oft-watched, revered and talked about films in movie history. You might want to grab a bowl of popcorn before you dig in to these.


'I'll Have What She's Having: Nora Ephron and the Three Movies that Changed Romantic Comedy' by Erin Carlson (August 29, 2017)

This is both a backstage look at the making of Nora Ephron's revered trilogy — When Harry Met Sally, You've Got Mail, and Sleepless in Seattle — which brought romantic comedies back to the fore, and an intimate portrait of the beloved writer/director who inspired a generation of women. With a cast of famous faces including Rob Reiner, Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, and Billy Crystal, Erin Carlson takes readers on a rollicking, revelatory trip to Ephron's New York City, where reality took a backseat to romance and Ephron — who always knew what she wanted and how she wanted it — ruled the set with an attention to detail that made her actors feel safe but sometimes exasperated crew members.

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'As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride' by Cary Elwes

Actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, gives a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

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'The Princess Diarist' by Carrie Fisher

The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie. These excerpts from her handwritten notebooks are Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes. Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty.

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'As If!: The Oral History of Clueless as told by Amy Heckerling and the Cast and Crew' by Jen Chaney

Acclaimed pop culture journalist Jen Chaney shares an oral history of the cult classic film Clueless in the ultimate written resource about one of the most influential, revered, and enduring movies of the 1990s. Using recollections and insights collected from key cast and crew members involved in the making of this endlessly quotable, ahead-of-its-time production, get a behind-the-scenes look at how Emma influenced Heckerling to write the script, how the stars were cast into each of their roles, what was involved in creating the costumes, sets, and soundtrack, and much more.

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'Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood' by Mark Harris

Explores the epic human drama behind the making of the five movies nominated for Best Picture in 1967 — Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, Doctor Doolittle, and Bonnie and Clyde — and through them, the larger story of the cultural revolution that transformed Hollywood, and America, forever.

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'The Sound of Music Story: How A Beguiling Young Novice, A Handsome Austrian Captain, and Ten Singing von Trapp Children Inspired the Most Beloved Film of All Time' by Tom Santopietro

When The Sound of Music was released in the United States and the love affair between moviegoers and the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical was on. Now, Tom Santopietro has all the inside scoop from behind the scenes stories of the filming in Austria and Hollywood to new interviews with Johannes von Trapp and others. Santopietro looks back at the real life story of Maria von Trapp, goes on to chronicle the sensational success of the Broadway musical, and recounts the story of the near cancellation of the film when Cleopatra bankrupted 20th Century Fox.

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'We'll Always Have Casablanca: The Life, Legend, and Afterlife of Hollywood's Most Beloved' by Noah Isenberg

Featuring a pitch-perfect screenplay, a classic soundtrack, and unforgettable performances by Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and a deep supporting cast, Casablanca was hailed in the New York Times as “a picture that makes the spine tingle and the heart take a leap.” The film won Oscars for best picture, best director, and best screenplay, and would go on to enjoy more revival screenings than any other movie in history. We’ll Always Have Casablanca is celebrated film historian Noah Isenberg’s rich account of this most beloved movie’s origins. Through extensive research and interviews with filmmakers, film critics, family members of the cast and crew, and diehard fans, Isenberg reveals the myths and realities behind Casablanca’s production.

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'You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes, and Their Impact on a Generation' by Susannah Gora

The films of the Brat Pack—from Sixteen Candles to The Breakfast Club—are some of the most watched films of all time. The landscape that the Brat Pack memorialized is rich with cultural themes and significance, and has influenced an entire generation who still believe that life always turns out the way it is supposed to. You Couldn’t Ignore Me If You Tried takes readers back to that era, interviewing key players, such as Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Andrew McCarthy, and John Cusack, and mines all the material from the movies to the music to the way the films were made to show how they helped shape our visions for romance, friendship, society, and success.

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'Final Cut: Art, Money, and Ego in the Making of Heaven's Gate, the Film that Sank United Artists' by Steven Bach

Heaven's Gate is probably the most discussed, least seen film in modern movie history. Its notoriety is so great that its title has become a generic term for disaster, for ego run rampant, for epic mismanagement, for wanton extravagance. It was also the film that brought down one of Hollywood’s major studios—United Artists, the company founded in 1919 by Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, D. W. Griffith, and Charlie Chaplin. Combining wit, extraordinary anecdotes, and historical perspective, this is a a landmark book on Hollywood and its people.

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'The Making of the Wizard of Oz: Movie Magic and Studio Power in the Prime of MGM' by Aljean Harmetz

It was 1938, the heyday of Hollywood, when studios were discovering the use of color; the importance of star power, and how to make beautiful, sprawling movies. From this was born The Wizard of Oz, a film that, over 60 years later, continues to captivate us. It seems we can never get enough of the dishy inside details, the amazing feats of production that made it such a spectacle, and the personalities both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. This is the book Oz aficionados will turn to for more information on America's favorite movie, jam-packed with fascinating facts and telling asides.

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'The Wes Anderson Collection' by Matt Zoller Seitz

Wes Anderson is one of the most influential voices from the past two decades of American cinema. Anderson is known for the visual artistry, inimitable tone, and idiosyncratic characterizations that make each of his films—including Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited, and Moonrise Kingdom—instantly recognizable as “Andersonian.” The Wes Anderson Collection is the first in-depth overview of Anderson’s filmography, guiding readers through his life and career. Previously unpublished photos, artwork, and ephemera complement a conversation between Anderson and award-winning critic Matt Zoller Seitz.

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