What Movie Related Book Have You Read Lately?

Read any good books lately?
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TikiSoo
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What Movie Related Book Have You Read Lately?

Post by TikiSoo »

In honor of the great long running thread on the TCM Boards, I'm going to start one here. Yes, classic movie fans are a literate bunch and just like opinions of movies, have great opinions of books about the movies.

I'll start with WC FIELDS & ME, a book published in 1971 written by his long term companion Carlotta Monti. I've wanted to see the movie based on this book FOREVER, mostly to see fave Jack Cassidy playing fave John Barrymore, but it's held from public view. I found this on a $1 table not knowing there even was a book-what a bargain!

Thankfully, this is not a linear 'from childhood to success to death' story -it's as exactly as the title states; Monti's impressions of life with Fields -"Woody" as she refers to him.
And by doing so, you get a pretty vibrant picture of the incredibly quirky man, his actions and his way of thinking in every day situations & his Hollywood career. Monti is never mean, in fact she's pretty loving and gentle even when disclosing pretty unflattering aspects of his personality.
Fields was extremely guarded & suspicious of those trying to get a piece of him, rightly so. Although labeled "difficult" on the movie set, his antics never came from narcissism or ego but from concern for how the comedy would play on screen.

By no means is this a "tell all" book and thank goodness. Instead, she just tells you what life was like with her beloved Woody and it's left for YOU to decide.
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Re: What Movie Related Book Have You Read Lately?

Post by EP Millstone »

W.C. Fields and Me can be watched on the Russian site Mail.ru, on YouTube, and on Amazon Prime.

Regarding movie-related books that I've read . . .

I'm currently slogging through SPAGHETTI WESTERNS Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone by Christopher Frayling.

After seeing Christopher Frayling expound on and rhapsodize about movies, I was eager to read Frayling's monograph. But after enduring his severely academic, arduously pedantic and prolix, and lethally soporific prose, any interest that I had in reading other books written by Frayling has shriveled like a burnt-out cheroot clenched between the teeth of Clint Eastwood. The crowded, densely packed page layout and typography of the 2006 I.B. Tauris edition that I have compound the torture. As do Frayling's paragraph-sized sentences that cry out for merciful punctuation to give this reader's eyes salvation and relief.

Frayling is/was a Rector of the Royal College of Art and Professor of Cultural History, which I guess is an alibi for authoring such a dry and drab tome. Bombarding the reader with lists, tables, appendices the size of small novellas, and waaaay more than a fistful of sociological and analytical statistics, Frayling ploddingly wrings the pleasure and thrills out of Spaghetti Westerns.

. . . which provokes me to append the lengthy name of Frayling's study with a cautionary subtitle: The Good, The Bad, and The Boring.
"Start every day off with a smile and get it over with." -- W.C. Fields
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Re: What Movie Related Book Have You Read Lately?

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I am just finishing the thick, marvelous book on my favorite malcontent John Barrymore. This book was written in 1977 by John Kobler about 365 pages long, just a bit too long imho.

Many readers prefer when all the characters involved are fleshed out by back stories, but since many of those on John's periphery are long forgotten, it's easy to simply skip over these paragraphs. For example, there was a famous voice coach for stage that helped out those transitioning into sound film. Almost two pages were dedicated to her life, where she came from & her rise to being in great demand. Interesting, but veering too far off Barrymore. (but these asides add to those interested in early theater/film history)

I did love that the book begins with the Barrymore parents, including some photos that gives us a base to where the 3 acting children came from. I found it astounding that none of them really cared for acting early on but just "fell into it" out of necessity. I do believe much of what was written in this book is based on the sources stated- letters, articles, etc rather than pure connection & opinion which is mostly what you find today on the internet.
Who doesn't see Drew Barrymore in her grandparents' wedding photo:
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While an excellent book, there is no fan white washing of Barrymore's life-all of it is included, many by quoting those who were involved. In some ways you leave with the same reverence & admiration you always had for the Great John Barrymore. But this book also illustrates his personal struggle with fame, personal love & life and very much so, his career.

Apparently, the "Theater" tried luring all three siblings away from "crass Hollywood" and back to what they considered "legitimate" acting. But after reading this book it's easy to see the Barrymores mostly saw acting as a job, a way to make money. The best part of them staying in pictures is we have them there forever.

Sure, nothing would be as incredible as seeing John as Hamlet, but it was never filmed. While he seems to have died in sad disgrace, thankfully his sensitivity & greatness as an actor has overcome any sad image over time.

At least I found out about this photo-it's his pet vulture!
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Re: What Movie Related Book Have You Read Lately?

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I just finished reading Geena Davis' autobiography which was excellent. Full disclosure-I know several of her family members but she revealed just a bit more about her professional life which I found very interesting.

I'm only 26 pages into Quentin Tarantino's new CINEMA SPECULATION (library copy) but I already am in love with it, need my own copy. We are pretty much the same age and grew up with similar sensibilities (he calls "sophistication" haha.

"At some point when I realized I was seeing movies other parents weren't letting their children see, I asked my Mom about it.
She said, "Quentin, I worry more about you watching the news. A movie's not going to hurt you."
After being exposed to all these images, did any of them disturb me? Of course some did! But that didn't mean I didn't like the movie."

I love his attitude of movies as a storytelling art form, not unlike my other love, Martin Scorsese. I love both guys and their take on movies. But as with Scorsese, I can only watch a few of their offerings due to the violence.

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Re: What Movie Related Book Have You Read Lately?

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TikiSoo wrote: March 10th, 2023, 12:18 pm I'm only 26 pages into Quentin Tarantino's new CINEMA SPECULATION (library copy) but I already am in love with it, need my own copy. We are pretty much the same age and grew up with similar sensibilities (he calls "sophistication" haha.

"At some point when I realized I was seeing movies other parents weren't letting their children see, I asked my Mom about it.
She said, "Quentin, I worry more about you watching the news. A movie's not going to hurt you."
After being exposed to all these images, did any of them disturb me? Of course some did! But that didn't mean I didn't like the movie."

I love his attitude of movies as a storytelling art form, not unlike my other love, Martin Scorsese. I love both guys and their take on movies. But as with Scorsese, I can only watch a few of their offerings due to the violence.
I also borrowed Quentin Tarantino's CINEMA SPECULATION from the library (e-book) and loved it. I like the way it's arranged, after the first chapter, by specific movies so I read only the chapters about the movies that I'd already seen. There's also an interesting "speculation" chapter later in the book called "What If Brian De Palma Directed Taxi Driver Instead of Martin Scorsese?"
I love the way Tarantino writes about movies and the way he writes in general. His focus in CINEMA SPECULATION is on American movies from 1970s, which is my favorite period of American cinema. I definitely want to own my own copy and ultimately read all the chapters after I've seen all the movies he's discussed. (I have not seen DAISY MILER, THE GETAWAY, PARADISE ALLEY or HARDCORE.)

I disagree with Tarantino's assessment that Brian De Palma's SISTERS is only half a movie and his criticism of Jennifer Salt's performance (saying that she misses the comic moments --- I think she nails them without making her character a total joke). But even when I don't agree with Tarantino, I enjoy reading his passionate opinions about movies.
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Re: What Movie Related Book Have You Read Lately?

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HoldenIsHere wrote: March 10th, 2023, 3:00 pm But even when I don't agree with Tarantino, I enjoy reading his passionate opinions about movies.
Exactly how I feel about this classic movie message board- It's great reading opinions & thoughts of those who share your interest...often pointing out a good movie you've never seen or mentioning merits you missed in movies you have seen.

I just read Tarentino's chapter on Steve McQueen & BULLITT. Although personally, I don't care for McQueen, what an eye opener reading an intelligent & emotional take of someone who IS thrilled by the performance!
That's what I love about art and especially movies- there's something for everyone.
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Re: What Movie Related Book Have You Read Lately?

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HoldenIsHere wrote: March 10th, 2023, 3:00 pm . . . But even when I don't agree with Tarantino, I enjoy reading his passionate opinions about movies.
TikiSoo wrote: March 11th, 2023, 8:19 am . . . I just read Tarentino's chapter on Steve McQueen & BULLITT. Although personally, I don't care for McQueen, what an eye opener reading an intelligent & emotional take of someone who IS thrilled by the performance! . . .
"You’re aware, I’m sure, that the one-and-only Quentin Tarantino worked as a video store clerk prior to hitting it big. Video Archives was where he worked. As I remember, he was always amped, plugging any given video with such enthusiasm you felt you had no choice but to rent the damn thing—I specifically remember Tarantino selling my mom on UNFAITHFULLY YOURS (1948) and myself on a James Bond flick (it might have been DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER). After watching the videos, we both agreed it was more fun hearing Quentin T. talk about them!" -- R.I.P. Video Archives

"Passionate opinions" go only so far with me. If I get suckered into watching a movie that you're passionate about and I don't share your passion -- or outright hate the movie -- you're off my Respected Opinion list.

I used to subscribe to Video Watchdog but cancelled my subscription because -- by and large -- Publisher and Editor Tim Lucas' taste in movies was significantly different from mine. After a while, I stopped respecting his opinion, despite his intelligent and scholarly but sometimes pretentious analyses and critiques. Eventually, his passionate championing of movies that, IMO, were crap only succeeded in convincing me that I was wasting my money on a VW subscription.

I know what I like and what I don't like. Very rarely am I swayed by others' opinions and recommendations. When I allow myself to be swayed, more often than not, I am disappointed and become more resolute to trust my instincts and stick with my own judgement.
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Re: What Movie Related Book Have You Read Lately?

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EP Millstone wrote: March 11th, 2023, 3:12 pm
HoldenIsHere wrote: March 10th, 2023, 3:00 pm . . . But even when I don't agree with Tarantino, I enjoy reading his passionate opinions about movies.
TikiSoo wrote: March 11th, 2023, 8:19 am . . . I just read Tarentino's chapter on Steve McQueen & BULLITT. Although personally, I don't care for McQueen, what an eye opener reading an intelligent & emotional take of someone who IS thrilled by the performance! . . .
"You’re aware, I’m sure, that the one-and-only Quentin Tarantino worked as a video store clerk prior to hitting it big. Video Archives was where he worked. As I remember, he was always amped, plugging any given video with such enthusiasm you felt you had no choice but to rent the damn thing—I specifically remember Tarantino selling my mom on UNFAITHFULLY YOURS (1948) and myself on a James Bond flick (it might have been DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER). After watching the videos, we both agreed it was more fun hearing Quentin T. talk about them!" -- R.I.P. Video Archives

"Passionate opinions" go only so far with me. If I get suckered into watching a movie that you're passionate about and I don't share your passion -- or outright hate the movie -- you're off my Respected Opinion list.

I used to subscribe to Video Watchdog but cancelled my subscription because -- by and large -- Publisher and Editor Tim Lucas' taste in movies was significantly different from mine. After a while, I stopped respecting his opinion, despite his intelligent and scholarly but sometimes pretentious analyses and critiques. Eventually, his passionate championing of movies that, IMO, were crap only succeeded in convincing me that I was wasting my money on a VW subscription.

I know what I like and what I don't like. Very rarely am I swayed by others' opinions and recommendations. When I allow myself to be swayed, more often than not, I am disappointed and become more resolute to trust my instincts and stick with my own judgement.
Mr. Millstone, neither TikiSoo nor I were looking to Quentin Tarantino for recommendations of movies to watch or with the expectation of having our opinions swayed about ones we'd already seen. In my post, I stated that I didn't read any chapters of CINEMA SPECULATION where movies I had not already seen (and formed my own opinions about) were discussed. If I never watch those movies, I won't read those chapters. I already had an interest in seeing DAISY MILER and HARDCORE before Tarantino's book was released.

My opinion of SISTERS was not swayed by what Tarantino saw as flaws in the movie. I love SISTERS and Jennifer Salt's performance in it. Similarly, TikiSoo didn't suddenly become a Steve McQueen fan after reading Tarantino rave about McQueen's performance in BULLITT. Her opinion remains the same: "I don't care for McQueen." However, her differing opinion didn't diminish her enjoyment in reading Tarantino's enthusiasm for McQueen's work in BULLITT.

The person you quote from The Bedlam Files even states that he and mother had "more fun hearing Quentin T. talk about" about the movies he recommended to them than watching the videos. Maybe they liked the movies, maybe they didn't, but they still enjoyed hearing the intelligent "passionate opinions" of someone who did.

PS. It would break my heart if I was off your Respected Opinion list . . .
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Re: What Movie Related Book Have You Read Lately?

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EP Millstone wrote: March 11th, 2023, 3:12 pm I know what I like and what I don't like. Very rarely am I swayed by others' opinions and recommendations. When I allow myself to be swayed, more often than not, I am disappointed and become more resolute to trust my instincts and stick with my own judgement.
I otoh, am very interested in other's opinions. It's not a matter of anyone convincing me of anything or having better/worse "judgement".

I find it enlightening when someone points out things that may have completely gone over my head or simply missed. It's like watching an old movie with someone younger & pointing out the boom that accidentally got in the shot-they may not have noticed, but us old geezers see it all the time.

Other people's opinions-especially those "into" classic movies are fun to have discussions with. It's fascinating hearing someone faun over Gary Cooper's "minimalistic" acting style while others say "wooden".

Isn't that what this message board is all about? Otherwise, you're just posting/talking to yourself. What's the accomplishment there?
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Re: What Movie Related Book Have You Read Lately?

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HoldenIsHere wrote: March 11th, 2023, 5:33 pm Mr. Millstone . . .
What is it with this "Mr. Millstone" jazz? What am I, a school principal?
HoldenIsHere wrote: March 11th, 2023, 5:33 pm . . . neither TikiSoo nor I were looking to Quentin Tarantino for recommendations of movies to watch or with the expectation of having our opinions swayed about ones we'd already seen . . .
Understood! But I wasn't stating or implying that you were looking to QT for recommendations. I was merely expressing my 'tude about the -- shall I say? -- appeal and power of passionate opinions.
HoldenIsHere wrote: March 11th, 2023, 5:33 pm . . . PS. It would break my heart if I was off your Respected Opinion list . . .
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Re: What Movie Related Book Have You Read Lately?

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TikiSoo wrote: March 11th, 2023, 5:35 pm . . . Isn't that what this message board is all about? Otherwise, you're just posting/talking to yourself. What's the accomplishment there?
Is the SSO supposed to accomplish something?

Expressing opinions is merely one of several activities (along with playing games, sharing music and pictures, chatting about sports) engaged in by SSO members. I was merely expressing my opinion, not imposing a manifesto for the SSO. I don't care about other people's opinions, but I'm not suggesting or proposing that they don't express them.

Opinions are like intestinal gas. People need to release them because doing so makes them feel better.
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Re: What Movie Related Book Have You Read Lately?

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Not movie related, but I finally finished Alison "Nellie Olson" Arngrim's memoir. I thought it was very funny and interesting. I loved how she has embraced her place in pop culture. I just watched a movie last night, "The Great Moment" and laughed when Betty Field's character had a Nellie Oleson hairdo. Later, when getting ready for bed, she revealed that her Nellie Oleson sausage curls were in fact, fake, as she quickly pulled all of them off and revealed a long braid. It seems that she braided her long hair and pinned it up and attached some faux sausage curls to achieve that 1840s look.

I just started reading Veronica Lake's memoir, the aptly titled, "Veronica: The Autobiography of Veronica Lake." I'm only at the beginning of it, but she seems very matter of fact and not at all enamored of Hollywood. She treated it like a job, in the same way that she treated her (later in life) bartending job as just a job.
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Re: What Movie Related Book Have You Read Lately?

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EP Millstone wrote: March 11th, 2023, 6:45 pm I was merely expressing my opinion,
I don't care about other people's opinions,
That says it all.
I was trying to say that exact same thing, albeit a little more gently.
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Re: What Movie Related Book Have You Read Lately?

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speedracer5 wrote: March 11th, 2023, 9:39 pm
I just started reading Veronica Lake's memoir, the aptly titled, "Veronica: The Autobiography of Veronica Lake." I'm only at the beginning of it, but she seems very matter of fact and not at all enamored of Hollywood. She treated it like a job, in the same way that she treated her (later in life) bartending job as just a job.
When Veronica Lake was promoting her autobiography in the UK, she received offers to work on the English stage. One of the roles she played, to rave reviews, was Blanche DuBois is a revival of A Streetcar Named Desire. In her autobiography, she candidly discusses her own alcoholism, and she probably drew on her own experience to portray that aspect of Blanche's character. She would have already been suffering from cirrhosis of the liver which would be officially diagnosed in 1973.

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Re: What Movie Related Book Have You Read Lately?

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Thompson wrote: March 23rd, 2023, 4:08 am Charles Willeford -- Miami Blues
Should I ever regain my taste for fiction, Charles Willeford's stories will definitely be on my Must Read list.

The Life and Times of Charles Willeford—Miami's Weird, Wonderful Master of Noir

Nothing Is Inchoate (Charles Willeford)

The Complete Memoirs of Charles Willeford

Charles Willeford by Lawrence Block


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