Mike Nichols, Sidney Lumet, Roman Polanski: Three New Books Chronicle Larger-Than-Life Moviemaking

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Courtesy of Macmillan (3)

A trio of reads look at the minds behind such classic films as 'Chinatown,' 'Network' and 'The Graduate.'

By Sam Wasson

Historian Wasson, whose Fosse was inspiration for FX's Fosse/Verdon, trains his eye on Roman Polanski's 1974 film Chinatown in The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood. The book follows four compelling figures — Polanski, producer Robert Evans (who died Oct. 26), star Jack Nicholson and writer Robert Towne — racing to complete a future classic amid 1970s Hollywood excess. Flatiron Books, $29

By Maura Spiegel

Columbia University academic Spiegel presents the first in-depth bio of the director (who died in 2011) behind such classics as 12 Angry Men and Network. Spiegel traces Lumet's beginnings as the son of Polish Jewish immigrants in NYC to later heights of success: "What he may have lacked in movie star looks, he made up for with charisma, dynamism, and an oft-noted sex appeal." St. Martin's Press, $30

By Ash Carter and Sam Kashner

Until Mark Harris' four-years-in-the-making Mike Nichols: A Biography drops in 2020, Nichols fans can find their fix in Life Isn't Everything: Mike Nichols, as Remembered by 150 of His Closest Friends. An oral history of the comic mastermind (co-compiled by Ash Carter, son of Graydon Carter), the book is a trove of anecdotes from collaborators like Cher and Al Pacino. Henry Holt, $30

This story first appeared in the Nov. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.