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The Star Machine by Jeanine Basinger

Read any good books lately?

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mahlerii
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The Star Machine by Jeanine Basinger

Postby mahlerii » June 17th, 2008, 12:15 pm

My brother gave me a gift card for Barnes and Ignoble :D and since I was in the mood for another movie book, I chose this one. Basinger provides interview fodder in the documentary on the making of El Cid in the new dvd of the film. The book is a joy to read. It is so full of information that it could be 4 or 5 books. She goes through careers of many actors as well as talking about how the Star Machine works and how the actors dealt with it. I now have copies of her other books Silent Stars and A Women's View and look forward to reading them.

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charliechaplinfan
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Postby charliechaplinfan » June 17th, 2008, 2:03 pm

I'm about 4/5ths of the way through this book. I like it, it's not in too much depth. I loved her book on Silent Stars which was very well researched and written and very respectful.

What I like about The Star Machine is that it brings some of the character actors and-not-quite-so-famous stars to the forefront and discusses them and their films. These are people I know little about. It's very easy to pick up and put down.

One big plus for me is that she's not a gossip churner. For instance in her chapter in Loretta Young, she mentioned Loretta's love child, one sentence, that was it. I got to find out about Loretta's career instead of the oft repeated fact that she had a lovechild with Clark Gable. There are many other instances of this. Plus she likes everyone she talks about, another good point.

I'll review it fully when I've finished it :D .
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

jdb1

Postby jdb1 » June 18th, 2008, 9:03 am

We've discussed this book elsewhere on SSO, and many of us agreed that although it had some interesting material, the writing left a lot to be desired. I was very disappointed in the gushy, star-struck style of this book, which was purportedly written by the chairwoman of a university-level film department. To me, it read more like something a recent college graduate who just landed a job as a junior editor at Mademoiselle magazine would have produced.

It's not that I don't like star-struck books about Hollywood -- they can be very entertaining. It's that I don't think it's a very admirable product for a high-level academic to put out, especially since the book is marketed as such (that is, as an academic work). I don't expect pages of footnotes and bibliography, but I'd expect something more from someone with those credentials than just "Ooh, this is my favorite!"

Someone, maybe Moira, commented that most of Basinger's other books aren't quite so "Entertainment Tonight." [Do you have that in the UK, Alison? You surely have something like it - it's a nightly gossip show consisting entirely of video press releases and 20-second or less sound bites, mostly from B, C, and D-list "celebrities."]

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charliechaplinfan
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Postby charliechaplinfan » June 18th, 2008, 1:18 pm

We do have that kind of show here. I know what you mean, it's a little like a daytime magazine show.

Silent Stars is the better book. It's a great introduction to the great silent stars. She describes their acting and which films are of the most interest. I found it a great starting block for launching into silents.

The Star Machine is perfect for me. With having the kids I'm interrupted until ten o'clock at night with various requests by that time I can't concentrate on some of the more detailed books I have.

Also the stars she is highlighting like Mickey Rooney, Norma Shearer, Charles Boyer, William Powell, I don't know all that much about them but if you did know it would be tedious.

If I didn't know she was an academic, this book would have given me no clue as to that fact. It is a strange subject for an academic to write on.

I would recommend Silent Stars way before The Star Machine.

If there is one thing I love other than watching movies, it's having and finding new movie books :D
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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charliechaplinfan
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Postby charliechaplinfan » June 22nd, 2008, 2:12 pm

I've finished The Star Machine now. I can honestly say that it doesn't strike me as the work of an academic but a work of someone who has always enjoyed movies and (quite cleverly) wants to write a book around her favorites.

Amongst the actors showcased are Tyrone Power, Lana Turner, Errol Flynn, Charles Boyer, William Powell, June Allyson, Betty Grable, Eleanor Powell, Deanna Durbin and she goes into details about some lesser known supporting players.

This is a book written by a fan of the movies and how stars came about. What I liked about the book is that it gave me details on stars I'd never really read about before. I also liked the fact that she is no scandal monger and likes movie stars. I have no interest in reading books by authors or journalists who want to take movie stars down a peg or two.

What I didn't like was the reference to today's stars and trying to fit them to type as in the past. Today's stars don't remotely seem the same kind of people as stars in the past.

I've learned more about Hollywood and some of it's stars. It was easy to pick up and put down. If you're looking for a quick and easy read that isn't going to tax the brain cells and you don't mind someone elses opinion this is the book to get out the library. If you've more time and more brain cells engaged than I have I'd pass and try her Silent Stars.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin


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