Dolce Vita Confidential

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781474606165

Price: £12.99

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Uproariously readable … Levy is a master of the group biography’ Sunday Times
‘Teeming with satisfying gossipy details’ Guardian
‘Exalts the intoxicating, beguiling dreaminess of Rome in its celluloid heyday’ TLS

1950s Rome. From the ashes of war, the Eternal City is reborn as the epicentre of film, style, boldfaced libertinism and titillating journalism. It’s the heyday of fashion icons such as Pucci and Brioni, and the height of ‘Hollywood on the Tiber’, when a dizzying array of stars flock to Cinecittà, the huge movie studio on the outskirts of Rome. At the bars on Via Veneto the likes of Ingrid Bergman, Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor mix with blue bloods and bohemians, while behind them trail street photographers in pursuit of the most unflattering and dramatic portraits of fame.

In a fast-paced, kaleidoscopic narrative, Shawn Levy shows how all roads lead to Federico Fellini’s world-conquering movie La Dolce Vita, starring Marcello Mastroianni and the Swedish bombshell Anita Ekberg. He recreates Rome’s stunning ascent with vivid and compelling tales of its glitterati and artists, down to every last outrageous detail of the city’s magnificent transformation.


Shawn Levy's fascinating book takes you on a postwar tour of Rome at the birth of celebrity during the boomtime of Cinecittà, the studio responsible for the city's glory days reputation as 'Hollywood on the Tiber' ... Levy has achieved a feat in including so much in one volume - he pours a large bottle of chianti into a digestivo glass ... [A] beautifully written walk on the wild side ... [It] oozes nostalgic glamour
Alex O'Connell, The Times </i>Book of the Week</i>
A palatable and stimulating engagement with an era that still functions as a powerful marketing tool for Italian exports ... This is an exciting account of a revolution in art and society ... Levy's snapshots of ruthless newshounds and voluble starlets show his flair for scene-setting. He takes us on a joyride through the photoshoots and exposés that gave birth to new, competitive media, and the ideas and freedom generated by democracy ... All roads led to Fellini's masterpiece of decadence, La Dolce Vita. Levy laps up the image that encapsulated an era: the blonde goddess Anita Ekberg lifting her skirts in the ancient well-spring of the Trevi
Lilian Pizzichini, The Spectator
The energy of 1950s Rome fizzes in this epic biography of the city at the height of its filmic glory and postwar stylishness. The hub of the book is the Cinecitta studio, where stars from Hollywood and Europe worked and played, but it is beyond that complex where Levy paints his most vivid picture. Rome, as he tells it, was a place of power, sex and death - and the birthplace of the paparazzi that now dominate cultural life. His book is a nostalgic trip with an edgy underbelly - much like Rome itself, then
Jonathan Dean, Sunday Times </i>Stage & Screen Book of the Year<i>
Shawn Levy has composed an exuberant portrait of postwar Rome and the filmmakers, movie stars, fashion designers, journalists and paparazzi whose supreme hunger, energy and creativity transformed it into the most stylish city in the world. He brings an infectious and freewheeling enthusiasm to every page as he reintroduces us to the extravagant romanticism of fast cars, reckless hedonism, and beautiful people behind the resurrection of the Eternal City
Glenn Frankel, author of <i>The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend</i>
An account of the life-enhancing background from which sprang the masterpieces of Italian cinema in the 1960s
Duncan Fallowell, The Spectator </i>Books of the Year<i>
An entertaining and exhaustive look at the glamorous world of 'Hollywood on the Tiber'. [Levy]'s a good man for the job as it was he who wrote the much-admired Rat Pack Confidential
John Meagher, Irish Independent
Something extraordinary in cultural terms happened in Italy in the postwar years, as Levy recounts with enthusiasm and colour ... [He] captures much of the excitement of that time and place in a prose style that is teeming with satisfying gossipy details ... This book would be just the thing to pack if you were intending a Hepburn-ish Roman holiday this summer
Bee Wilson, Guardian
Although it also covers the rise of Italian fashion and automobiles, the real heart of Dolce Vita Confidential, Shawn Levy's account of post-war Italian culture, is pure celluloid; from the emergence of Hollywood on the Tiber (resulting in films like Roman Holiday and Quo Vadis) to the rise of Italian directors such as Roberto Rosselini, Michelanglo Antonioni and, the book's real hero, Federico Fellini. Levy is enamoured of Italian sixties cinema and the way it reflected and refracted Il Boom years. Fellini's La Dolce Vita was both a response to and an advertisement for the emergence of paparazzi photographers on Via Veneto after all. But the pleasure of the book probably comes in the gossip; here are love affairs between actresses and aristocrats, a tragic murder or two and the inevitable starry feuds
Teddy Jamieson, The Herald </i>Best Film Books of 2017<i>
A brisk, frothy narrative ... informative and fun
Ben Downing, Wall Street Journal
Shawn Levy's absorbing, well-researched book exalts the intoxicating, beguiling dreaminess of Rome in its celluloid heyday
Ian Thomson, Times Literary Supplement
A sensational read
John Cooper Clarke, Irish Examiner </i>Books of the Year<i>
[A] zabaglione of a book
Roger Lewis, Daily Mail </i>Book of the Week<i>
A fantastically gossip-filled but intelligent history of Italy's postwar film-making industry and the culture it spawned
Sunday Times </i>Summer Reads<i>
Uproariously readable ... [Levy] tells some terrific, if dreadful, stories about the convergence of noblemen and actresses ... Fans of La Dolce Vita will recognise many scenes from the film in these tales. Levy pulls all the threads of his story together in his discussion of the world-conquering movie. The author of Rat Pack Confidential, he is a master of the group biography, pacing his chapters for maximum suspense and revelation ... The climactic story is a humdinger ... Wickedly readable
John Walsh, Sunday Times
Details the fashion and cinema of 1950s Rome - from Pucci to Peck - with love
Sloan Crosley, Vanity Fair