The Castle on Sunset ~ A Capsule Book Review

The Castle on Sunset cover

The Castle on Sunset
~ A Capsule Book Review by Allen Kopp ~

It overlooks the famous Sunset Strip in Hollywood. It stands seven stories tall and was built, in 1929, in imitation of a French chateau. It was an apartment building at first and was later turned into a residential hotel. It has long been a mecca for artists and creative people, in an out of the movie business. It is the Chateau Marmont.

Shawn Levy’s nonfiction book, The Castle on Sunset, is a detailed account of the life of the Chateau Marmont, a Hollywood landmark that has seen its fortunes rise and fall. It has had many different owners over the decades, some indifferent and uncaring, while others were scrupulously caring and attentive. The Chateau Marmont was a quiet, “un-Hollywood” retreat in the thirties through the fifties; a favorite of stage-trained, New York, Method actors in the fifties and sixties who came to Hollywood to make movies; in the seventies and eighties, it was a bohemian enclave, slightly seedy and run-down; in the twenty-first century, it became, with its upgrading and renovations, a trendy destination for hip, young Hollywood. Over the years it went from being a reasonably priced hotel to one that only the wealthy can afford. If you think you can go to Hollywood and stay in the Chateau Marmont, you won’t be able to get in unless you are a Hollywood A-lister. (Do you know anybody who is? Neither do I.)

I might not have learned much that I didn’t already know by reading The Castle on Sunset, but it’s intermittently interesting to read, depending on how interested you are in the person being discussed. If you are interested in the death of John Belushi, you will be riveted by the section on his drug overdose death that occurred in one of the hotel’s bungalows in 1982. You didn’t know that Anthony Perkins was gay? He was known for entertaining his male dates at the Chateau Marmont. Movie director Nicholas Ray conceived of his classic film, Rebel Without a Cause, while staying at the Chateau Marmont, while simultaneously having an affair with his sixteen-year-old leading lady, Natalie Wood. He was considerably older than she was.

If you are interested in Hollywood lore, gossip, and naughtiness, you are sure to find The Castle on Sunset a valuable addition to your reading list.

Copyright © 2022 by Allen Kopp

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