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Looking for recommendations for good movie reads

Read any good books lately?

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charliechaplinfan
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Postby charliechaplinfan » November 14th, 2008, 1:55 pm

I just read Karl Brown's book Adventures with DW Griffith. It looked quite a formidable tome, very small writing with the text packed tightly into each page. I braced myself for a hard read, I couldn't have been further from the truth. Karl Brown has a writing style all of his own that completely won me over. He was a lad of 16 when he started working for Griffith and 21 when he left his employment just before Griffith returned East with his prodution company. He jumps off the page at the reader as ths young lad, who started with Griffith with some film experience and who Griffith allowed to blossom by allowing him to do experiments. Insights are gained into the filming of primarily Birth of a Nation and Intolerance and also into the stars such as Lillian Gish and the cameraman Billy Bitzer. One of the best books on silent cinema I've read.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

moviemagz
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Postby moviemagz » November 24th, 2008, 5:05 am

feaito wrote:Thanks for the further recommendations!!!

I also recommend the vintage James Robert Parish books:

Paramount Pretties
The RKO Gals
The Fox Girls


Parish was often very harsh with his comments about the various films, it almost made you wonder if he liked old movies at all. And you certainly can tell which stars are NOT on his favorites list (ie: Miriam Hopkins in the Paramount book [even though she's also not on mine LOL] .)

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MichiganJ
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Postby MichiganJ » January 14th, 2009, 4:30 pm

In the middle of a number of books, but one I can't put down (and can barely pick up, it's so heavy) is Art of the Modern Movie Poster. Featuring over 500 pages of absolutely stunning pictures of film posters from around the world, this book is fantastic. Rather than comparing the various posters for each film (although this is done with some), the book is broken into chapters by country, and so far, I've made it through Poland, The Czeck Republic, Russia, Germany and France (and boy are my arms tired....from holding this tome!) Each page holds anywhere from one to six posters, and, brilliantly, the information identifying the poster is not directly under the picture, forcing me to try and figure out what movie is being represented. Naturally, many you can tell by the cast, etc. but a lot are difficult and yet make perfect sense once you learn what the film is. The various posters for Hitchcock's The Birds, for instance, are spectacular, if somewhat bizarre (as is the film, I suppose). So far, some standouts include: the Czech's The Big Sleep (the "new" version); Russia's Once Upon a Time in America; Czech's The Seven Year Itch; a 2-page spread of some of Godard films from France. France's Love at Twenty (Truffaut's film); and the stunner: the Czeck poster for Bergman's Persona, which has the famous photo of Liv and Bibi made out of sand.
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charliechaplinfan
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Postby charliechaplinfan » January 15th, 2009, 3:17 pm

That sounds like an absolutely great book, might keep my eyes peeled for that one :wink:

Over the past month I've read Mary Pickford Rediscovered by Kevin Brownlow which is highly recommended for so many reasons but mostly for the reflection on her body of work and the beautiful illustrations.

Then following along that road I read Eileen Whitfields book on Mary, well written, lots of narrative, I didn't completely agree with her opinions on some of Mary's films, I thought she was a little harsh but all in all very good.

I'm half way through Jeffrey Vance's book on Douglas Fairbanks which I highly recommend for the details it gives on his career and his movies.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Postby rudyfan » January 15th, 2009, 5:27 pm

charliechaplinfan wrote:I just read Karl Brown's book Adventures with DW Griffith. It looked quite a formidable tome, very small writing with the text packed tightly into each page. I braced myself for a hard read, I couldn't have been further from the truth. Karl Brown has a writing style all of his own that completely won me over. He was a lad of 16 when he started working for Griffith and 21 when he left his employment just before Griffith returned East with his prodution company. He jumps off the page at the reader as ths young lad, who started with Griffith with some film experience and who Griffith allowed to blossom by allowing him to do experiments. Insights are gained into the filming of primarily Birth of a Nation and Intolerance and also into the stars such as Lillian Gish and the cameraman Billy Bitzer. One of the best books on silent cinema I've read.


I could not agree more. Sadly, Brown was working on a second manuscript which I recall Kevin Brownlow telling me was completed. It was mentioned in a footnote in Brownlow's The War The West and The Wilderness and I asked him about the follow up volume. Keving told me that Farrar Strauss & Giroux decided not to publish it. I wish Brown's descendents would offer it up to a smaller publisher, that is one man who does not deserve to be silenced. His book is right next to Brownlow's (and not due to alphabetizing!)
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charliechaplinfan
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Postby charliechaplinfan » January 16th, 2009, 3:00 pm

Donna, that's such a shame, I wish we could contact his family and tell them how fascinating we find him. Karl Brown's a natural at telling a story, I just love how his personality came shining through the text.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: Looking for recommendations for good movie reads

Postby Professional Tourist » March 3rd, 2009, 9:04 pm

If anyone might be interested in reading about Judy Garland, for a couple of years I read just about every book about her I could find -- and there are plenty since she lived her life so publicly. I can recommend the following:

Judy -- Gerold Frank
Rainbow's End -- Coyne Steven Sanders
World's Greatest Entertainer -- John Fricke
Get Happy -- Gerald Clarke (a bit spicier than the others :wink: )

Some of these books are out-of-print, but it's easy to find used copies on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.

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Re:

Postby rudyfan » March 4th, 2009, 11:36 am

feaito wrote:Kay Francis, A Passionate Life and Career by Lynn Kear and John Rossman is a good book, with its sources very well identified, but I felt it focused more on Kay's personal life rather than her career. Is her other biography I Can't Wait to Be Forgotten more focused on her career?


I'm sorry I'm late dropping in to this thread, so this question may well have been answered. Scott O'Brien's book is okay. Too much plot of film filler and covers much the same territory as the Lear/Rossman book.

I adore Kay, absolutely fascinating person on screen and off.

I recently read Mary Astor's two books, My Story and A Life on Film. Taken in the context of when My Story was written, Astor is quite candid on some things and is quite skittish about others (the mores and morals of the time, I expect as well as the dainty none of your damned business) :wink:

David Skal's bio on Claude Rains is pretty good. I've always had a fascination with Rains and this book does quench that thirst to a degree.

I'm looking forward to Emily Leider's forthcoming bio of Myrna Loy. I loved and love Being and Becoming, but I'm glad someone else is taking a look at Myrna.

Donna
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feaito

Re: Looking for recommendations for good movie reads

Postby feaito » March 4th, 2009, 9:19 pm

Thanks for your feedback Donna. I truly appreciate it.

What about Kear's & Rossman's second book on Kay, "The Complete Kay Francis Career Record: All Film, Stage, Radio and Television Appearances"? Have you read it? I also have that one in my Wish List.

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Re: Looking for recommendations for good movie reads

Postby Vienna » November 2nd, 2012, 9:09 am

I am surprised there isn't more on this thread. So many good books out there.
I'm re- reading HITCHCOCK AND SELZNICK by Leonard Leff (1987). This partnership was never going to survive as both men had to be in charge.Very readable with lots of illustrations.
THE BIG BOOK OF 'B' MOVIES or HOW LOW WAS MY BUDGET is by Robin Cross (1981) . More an illustrated history, there are over 300 photos of film scenes - films like NANCY DREW, THE SAINT, HOODLUM EMPIRE, MY NAME IS JULIA ROSS.
One of my all time favorite books is DARK CITY,THE LOST WORLD OF FILM NOIR, written as if by a noir scriptwriter, by Eddie Muller.
I realise so many books are no longer easy to find but it's worth the search!

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: Looking for recommendations for good movie reads

Postby charliechaplinfan » November 2nd, 2012, 3:48 pm

I think this thread got lost because we also have a What Are You Reading Thread under General Chat but with Christmas coming up it's a good thread to start going again.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

kingrat
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Re: Looking for recommendations for good movie reads

Postby kingrat » February 26th, 2014, 12:49 pm

Warner Brothers Directors (1978) can be found on abebooks for ten dollars or even less. It's an oversized book by William Mayer with short accounts (average of about 15 pages each, with some photographs) of the careers of 19 directors who worked at WB during the classic era. The discussion isn't limited to their careers at WB, and Mayer brings us up to the present for those still active. For instance, John Huston's career is followed all the way through The Man Who Would Be King.

Although it would be nice to have more information about each one, this is a handy overview with a brief filmography for every director. For the little-known figures like Peter Godfrey, that's especially helpful. Mayer's favorites are not necessarily indebted to any critical school, so that he writes enthusiastically about some unexpected choices like Negulesco's Three Strangers, Litvak's Anastasia, and Peter Godfrey's The Woman in White.

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Re: Looking for recommendations for good movie reads

Postby Vienna » February 26th, 2014, 1:09 pm

Thanks for info on the book on Warner Brothers directors - I've just ordered it through Amazon.

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Re: Looking for recommendations for good movie reads

Postby sandykaypax » May 25th, 2014, 5:46 pm

I highly recommend the new Barbara Stanwyck bio by Victoria Wilson--Barbara Stanwyck: Steel True 1907-1940. So incredibly detailed! I finally understand her marriage to Frank Fay now. It always seemed such an odd coupling. But he was familiar to her--both from vaudeville and Broadway. The bio only goes up until 1940, so I hope I don't have to wait too long for the second half!

Sandy K

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Re: Looking for recommendations for good movie reads

Postby Professional Tourist » May 25th, 2014, 6:16 pm

sandykaypax wrote:I highly recommend the new Barbara Stanwyck bio by Victoria Wilson--Barbara Stanwyck: Steel True 1907-1940. So incredibly detailed! I finally understand her marriage to Frank Fay now. It always seemed such an odd coupling. But he was familiar to her--both from vaudeville and Broadway. The bio only goes up until 1940, so I hope I don't have to wait too long for the second half!

Sandy K

I have not read this book, but have read many reviews of it on Amazon, where the opinions are decidedly mixed. Most of the negative reviews are for the editing, where readers felt the book could have been cut by a few hundred pages. They say it goes off topic a lot, discussing directors and other actors (including some with whom Stanwyck never worked) and providing detailed descriptions of films (including some in which she did not appear). Here is an example:
The book, though, suffers from a bad case of irony: It's greatest strength - it's research - is also it's greatest weakness. Victoria Wilson has clearly spent years digging up everything out there on all aspects of Stanwyck's life and career. She has also done a thorough job of examining the times in which Stanwyck worked. Clearly the author's intention is to use this latter research to rivet her subject within the context of her time and place. The problem is that there are simply too many times when the narrative is slowed to a crawl by more information than we either need or desire. I really don't need to know the entire life history of a director, for example, who made a film for which Stanwyck did a screen test, but did not get cast. There were simply too many times when I muttered "Get on with it!"

I'm glad you've enjoyed the book, Sandy; many fans have loved it. Others have found it a frustrating read, surprised that an author who is an editor herself would not have done a tighter job of compiling her research and forming a more cohesive narrative.


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