Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood is, in my opinion, the most important book of movie history about the most important era of movie-making. Spanning the late 1960s to the early 1980s, it vividly covers Hollywood's cultural revolution following the collapse of the confining studio system. The subsequent explosion of vital, boundary-pushing talent changed the industry, briefly, into a prolific factory for gritty dramas and edgy comedies, until Star Wars changed everything. Biskind knows this subject as well as anybody, digs into its seamiest corners, and writes about the debauched era with due excitement. The problem this book presents for me, however, is the urge it provokes on every page to stop reading and watch the movies discussed therein before continuing on to the next.
Biskind followed Easy Riders, Raging Bulls with a similar look at the indie film boom of the 1990s, Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film. That one's on my shelf for future reading, but I imagine that both of his books, with producer Julia Phillips' scathing memoir You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again sandwiched in the middle, will teach you anything you ever wanted to know about the movie industry from 1967-2000.