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The Five Most Inspirational Books About Film

Read any good books lately?

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ChiO
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Re: The Five Most Inspirational Books About Film

Postby ChiO » July 19th, 2010, 8:27 am

The biggest surprise in the Sight & Sound poll for me was that The Parade's Gone By was not the top choice and that it wasn't even in the Top 5.
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Ann Harding
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Re: The Five Most Inspirational Books About Film

Postby Ann Harding » July 19th, 2010, 9:20 am

ChiO wrote:The biggest surprise in the Sight & Sound poll for me was that The Parade's Gone By was not the top choice and that it wasn't even in the Top 5.

Well, that doesn't surprise me that much actually. Most modern film critics are pretty ignorant regarding silents. I don't know about the US, but over here, the big and famous film writers/historians are not knowledgeable for films made before 1930 whether French or American.

feaito

Re: The Five Most Inspirational Books About Film

Postby feaito » July 19th, 2010, 11:39 am

Romantic Comedy in Hollywood by James Harvey. The best study of comedies I have ever read, beautifully written.


I concur Christine, a great book indeed!

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ChiO
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Re: The Five Most Inspirational Books About Film

Postby ChiO » July 19th, 2010, 11:53 am

Christine wrote:
I don't know about the US, but over here, the big and famous film writers/historians are not knowledgeable for films made before 1930 whether French or American.


My sense is that that is true for the US as well, which is one reason I thought it would make the list. As the best-known book about the silent era, I assumed that it would be the reference book most critics have and rely upon to fill in that gap.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

kingrat
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Re: The Five Most Inspirational Books About Film

Postby kingrat » July 19th, 2010, 11:52 pm

ChiO, what a great topic to start. So many good books to search out. Narrowing the list to five seems impossible, but here are some favorites. Every one is easily within the grasp of every contributor to these boards:

1. Raymond Durgnat, Films and Feelings. A marvelous book that doesn't make distinctions between auteurist-approved and auteurist-disapproved directors. He looks for connections between films by different directors and looks for images common to several films. The book is quirky and somewhat random in the films chosen for close inspection, yet it has definitely influenced my approach to films. Even thought the dude doesn't grasp that JOHNNY GUITAR is outrageously camp.

2. William Mann, Behind the Screen. Through meticulous research Mann has recovered some of Hollywood's extensive gay and lesbian past. As the title suggests, Mann concentrates on directors, writers, choreographers, costume designers, and others whose contributions were "behind the screen," although he also includes information about some actors.

3. Jeanine Basinger. I'm crazy about two of her books, A Woman's View and The Star Machine. The former is the ultimate book about Hollywood women's pictures, and after you read it, you'll watch films and say, "Oh,it's a Three Girls film" or "There's the Happy Interlude," using her terms. No one else seems to understand so perfectly how Hollywood sent mixed messages in almost every film. The Star Machine gives numerous examples of both successful and unsuccessful Hollywood careers. And who can resist her comment that Lana Turner changed from vanilla milkshake to champagne cocktail to frozen daiquiri? Basinger's study of the WWII film as a genre is another important book.

4. Two splendid books to read along with studies of individual directors are Thomas Schatz,The Genius of the System, and Mick LaSalle, Complicated Women. Schatz provides plenty of information about how producers, production units, and even studios functioned and how they were sometimes more important than individual directors. Mick LaSalle's book about pre-Code actresses argues that in the pre-Code era the star actress was often more of an auteur than the director. You can't read LaSalle without wanting to see more pre-Code films.

5. If you want to relax with a beach read that will also tell you a lot about classic films, there's Lee Server's biography of Ava Gardner. Well-written, well-researched, outrageous, compulsively readable.

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Re: The Five Most Inspirational Books About Film

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » July 21st, 2010, 1:11 pm

Dear kingrat , I am so glad you enjoyed the Lee Server book, Ava Gardner, Love is Nothing, after my recommendation at the TCM festival. It is a great summer read, and hard to put down once you've read a couple of paragraphs.

The Mick LaSalle book about women and the precode era is also engrossing, and I enjoyed the documentary related
to its release hosted by Jane Fonda. Torch Singer is one of my favorite precodes, along with The Smiling Lieutenant,
Design For Living, and Baby Face.

I am currently hunting up copies of those Jeanine Basinger tomes you just mentioned.
Chio, feaito, Ann Harding--I hope to read the James Harvey book, too.

Thanks for the info!
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feaito

Re: The Five Most Inspirational Books About Film

Postby feaito » July 21st, 2010, 1:48 pm

Happy to see you around Christy! :D

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Re: The Five Most Inspirational Books About Film

Postby MissGoddess » July 21st, 2010, 2:25 pm

For what it may be worth, I've read the James Harvey book (it was several years ago but I learned A LOT from it), as well as Truffaut's book on Hitch, and Sin in Soft Focus. I don't have the Who The Devil Made It books, though I've read many of the interviews seperately. I want to get that one for my collection one day. I can't say I found any of these "inspirational"....I'm still thinking about that one. I probably shouldn't mention Marilyn Monroe's My Story in such august company... :lol:
"There's only one thing that can kill the movies, and that's education."
-- Will Rogers

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: The Five Most Inspirational Books About Film

Postby charliechaplinfan » July 21st, 2010, 4:33 pm

Why not mention Marilyn's My Story if it's a book you've enjoyed. i just like to talk about books.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: The Five Most Inspirational Books About Film

Postby MissGoddess » July 21st, 2010, 6:33 pm

Thanks, ccfan. I admit my tastes aren't necessarily intellectual and such books can often make my brain hurt. :lol:
Marilyn's little book was a nice antidote (even though it's mostly ghost written by Ben Hecht, a mucho intellectual...have
you ever read HIS doorstop...I mean biography, Child of the Century? I think I could have used a bottle of bicarb
after I finished it! I was only about 20 at the time. I think I had more patience for big reading then.)
"There's only one thing that can kill the movies, and that's education."
-- Will Rogers

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: The Five Most Inspirational Books About Film

Postby charliechaplinfan » July 22nd, 2010, 11:49 am

Oh me too. I could devour great tomes but now it's different. I love Kevin Brownlow's books, I recognise that they are the very best written about film but they're the kind of books I have to take on holiday with me and get my brain in gear before tackling them.

In some ways I think the best books are the ones that stay with you after you've read them.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin


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