December 09, 1985 12:00 PM

by Julie Welch and Louise Brody

This impressive collection of photographs for movie fans has on its jacket a splendid photograph of a young, pre-mustached Clark Gable lounging on a movie set. Most of the pictures are publicity stills, yet they have been carefully chosen and beautifully reproduced. The book opens with Rudolph Valentino, trying to look sultry and barely managing to avoid looking silly. John Barrymore has on more lipstick than his leading lady in a 1929 still from Eternal Love. Gary Cooper, it is clear, could wear a fop’s suit and still look great. Photos from the ’30s remind us Robert Young wasn’t always a wrinkled old doctor on television. The book concludes with such modern actors as Sean Penn, Christopher Reeve, Sylvester Stallone and John Travolta. Their peevish, self-absorbed mien shows us that, for better or worse, Hollywood no longer produces myth-generating leading men. (Villard, $24.95)

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