“The Bonfire of Vanities” is a novel written by Tom Wolfe on the excesses of the 80’s. Set in New York, the novel highlights and mocks the prejudices and flaws in the residents. After the novel became a hit, Warner Bros acquired the rights to the movie. They entrusted Brian de Palma to direct. A novel well liked do not necessarily turn into a block buster movie. For “The Bonfire of Vanities”, the outcome was disastrous. Despite a dream star cast comprising of Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, Melanie Griffith and others, the movie tanked at the box office.
Julie Salamon writes this novel which chronicles the making of movie “The Bonfire of the Vanities” and also it’s release. The book unfolds like a novel where Julie tells us the story in four parts - the Preproduction, the New York Shoot, The Los Angeles shoot and the Postproduction. She tells us about the processes, the technicians and executives thereby giving us an unique look on how a movie is made in Hollywood and the compromises involved in making a movie. During the making of “The Bonfire of Vanities”, Julie had unrestricted access to the sets and other areas of production. This has helped her piece the novel together using her first hand experiences and interviews with the cast & the crew.
The book does not give the reader an analysis of the failure. Instead it is a narrative on how this movie was made. This book is recommended to a movie lover who is interested in learning how a movie is made and also how studios operate. It would help if you have read Tom Wolfe’s novel before.