Inky Film Critic Steven Rea Offers Coffee and Glamour in Hollywood Café

The book launches tonight at the La Colombe in Fishtown

Inquirer film critic Steven Rea is a serious coffee guy; you know the type, the one who breaks out the Chemex pour-over pot for just the perfect cup. He gets top scores when quizzed about which coffeehouses he frequents: La Colombe, Menagerie, Rival Brothers, Shot Tower Coffee, Volo, Highpoint Cafe…

“I’ve been a coffee person since my junior high school days,” says Rea. “I grew up in New York City. I’d cut school and go to Central Park and smoke cigarettes and drink coffee from the Boathouse.”

It makes sense that Rea found a way to combine his loves for coffee and cinema in his new book, Hollywood Cafe: Coffee with the Stars (Schiffer).

The book — which gets the launch party treatment tonight, 5-7 p.m., at Fishtown’s La Colombe (1335 Frankford Avenue) — features black-and-white photographs of nearly 200 movie stars, mostly from the mid-twentieth century. Major stars are captured with their cups including Rita Hayworth, Jean Harlow, Charlie Chaplin, Boris Karloff, Lana Turner, Joan Crawford, Lucille Ball, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, James Stewart, Humphrey Bogart, Elizabeth Taylor.

This book evolved during the research for Rea’s earlier book, Hollywood Rides a Bike: Cycling With the Stars. Rea dove into the world of archival photographs for that project and made a lot of contacts. While gathering photos of actors on bikes, he stumbled upon a shot of Lauren Bacall casually leaning against a bike while cradling a cup of coffee in her hand (p. 187).

Rea happily spent hours obsessively tracking down film stills and sifting through archives for the images featured in this book. “I still get up every morning and troll eBay looking for photographs,” says Rea. “I have volumes and volumes of bike photos and coffee photos.”

When reviewing movies is he distracted by cups of coffee? “Yeah. I won’t go so far as to give a movie an extra star if it has coffee or a bike, but I do make a mental note and it gives me a tinge of pleasure.”

Steven Rea will sign copies of Hollywood Cafe: Coffee with the Stars tonight, January 14, 5-7 p.m., at Fishtown’s La Colombe, 1335 Frankford Avenue.