About a third of the way through Steven Rea’s book “Hollywood Cafe: Coffee with the Stars,” one happens upon a picture of Humphrey Bogart sitting in a chair, a cigarette in one hand, a tommy gun in the other. Above him lords Lauren Bacall, looking at him with disdain while idly holding a cup of coffee. It’s not from one of their undying film classics; it’s from a rare 1955 TV production of “The Petrified Forest.”
“Few have ever seen it before,” Rea tells us. “It hasn’t been out there since the 1950s.”
The “newness” of many of the images isn’t the only thing that fuels “Hollywood Cafe.” It’s a collection of photos of stars, tied by one theme: coffee. Some are production stills shot on the set of Golden Age Hollywood films (plus a few modern-ish stragglers, like “Say Anything”). Others are staged publicity photos, creating a wholesome image of a period we now know to be even rowdier than today.
“There’s something about these photographs — the glamor of them, the artificial candidness — that really appealed to me,” Rea says. “It evokes an earlier, innocent time. They’re artificial at the same time they’re projecting something real.”