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Your Favorite Film Books


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When I'm not watching or talking about movies I'm often reading about them. A number of books have been mentioned in various threads. One thread motivated me to order the book The Parade's Gone By by Kevin Brownlow. I just received it today and can't wait to get started on it.


Other books I've enjoyed over the years include:


The New Biographical Dictionary of Film by David Thomson. - I don't always agree with him but I find his opinions interesting. It's an addictive book that I always take with me when traveling. I have three edtions on this book because as newer personalities are added older ones are sometimes dropped.


Our own Robert Osborne's Official History of the Academy Awards. I have the 50 and 60 year editions.


Memo From David O. Selznick by David O. Selznick. Selected and edited by Rudy Behlmer. A facinating look inside the mind of the mogul through his own memos.


Hollywood Anecdotes by Paul Boller and Ronald Davis. This was essential light beach reading for me back in the eighties. A large collection of short anecedotes all about the Golden Age of Hollywood.


Others worth mentioning include Sin and Soft Focus by Mark Vieira, Norma Shearer:A Life by Galvin Lambert, and The Genius of the System by Thomas Schatz.


There are so many to talk about. I bought Lion of Hollywood; The life and legend of Louis B. Mayer by Scott Eyman but haven't read it yet.


So do any of you have favorite film books you would like to mention? I would be interested in hearing about them.

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I hope you enjoy *Parade*. It's a terrific book and Brownlow is to be commended and thanked for helping preserve the stories of film's pioneers.


*Lion* is another good book by Scott Eyman. I would recommend *Print the Legend* his bio of John Ford as well.


*Get Happy* is Gerald Clarke's riveting bio of Judy Garland.


*Original Story* by Arthur Laurents is a good autobio as is Betsy Palmer's *The Memory of All That*.


Most of Bogdanovich's books like *Who the Devil Made It* are good reads as well.


Message was edited by: lzcutter

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Hi Izcutter,


I think you were the one who brought up The Parades Gone By in that other thread. It looks good. I'm starting it tonight.


Thanks for those suggestions. Lion of Hollywood has been setting on my shelf for a while now. I bought it for a trip I never went on. I think that will be my next book.


Get Happy sounds good. I really need to catch up on my reading. I've been slacking off on the internet a bit much, and I work in a library so you would think I read all the time.


I will look into all your suggestions.



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"The Academy Awards: The Complete And Unofficial History" By Jim Plazza and Gail Kinn




"Hollywood's First Choices: (or why Groucho Marx never played Rhett Butler)" By Jeff Burkhart and Bruce Stuart



Both great reads! Fascinating! And the first book is a great reference tool. I often refer to it to find out the nominees and winners for certain years.

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Being a horror science fiction nut as a kid to adulthood I have a lot of books on the subject, a few by Jeff Rovin, I have a couple of cool older ones, I also have a cool dinosaur book.

I have them locked up and im too lazy to check the titles right now (shrugs shoulders)

Mostly movie books on horror and scifi. Classics of the horror movie is one thats good. I have one that covers Lugosi, Karloff, Chaney, etc into the 1950s.. a book on Hammer horror too :)

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I highly recommend Cameron Crowe's interview book with Billy Wilder, Conversations with Wilder. Crowe and Wilder have an engaging chemistry that reveals wonderful detail about Wilder's filmmaking. It feels as though one is sitting in on their conversation and hearing about Wilder's technique, what it was like working with the stars, and how he perceived his own work. I love Billy Wilder, so maybe I'm biased... but this seems like a great book for anyone interested in film. Oh, and it's loaded with great pictures!

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Interesting thread, I was just trying to recount and recall all the memoirs I've read and my favorites among them the other day...

Some of the better titles I've included below:


The Parades Gone By - Kevin Brownlow (Truly excellent, most interesting was the history of Hollywood and the early day East Coast studios)


Swanson on Swanson - Gloria Swanson


Elia Kazan: A Life - Elia Kazan (Lengthy but never dull, I've read and skimmed this book over a dozen times)


Life is Too Short - Mickey Rooney (There are no words. After reading this I can never think of Mr. Rooney in the same way, my previous opinion of him was neutral but now he's one of my favorites)


Elizabeth - J. Randy Taraborreli (Drama!...And Diamonds!)


The Girl Who Walked Home Alone: Bette Davis - Charlotte Chandler


Tallulah: My Autobiography - Tallulah Bankhead


Marlene Dietrich ? Maria Riva (So entertaining! Not always credible but that?s to be expected with memoirs, especially in ?children of stars? books. B.D Hymen?s and Christina Crawford?s were passable but not recommendable, this one however?)


Eve Golden's biographies on *Theda Bara* and *Jean Harlow* are good for there liberal inclusion of big, glossy photos. *Brooksie's* essay collection is okay, *Colleen Moore's* memoirs are ridiculously charming but not very informative, *Larry Olivier's* were a HUGE disappointment because I'm such a fan of his (I cannot stress enough how boring). *Judy Garland* bios by both Gerold Frank and Gerald Clark are worth reading


The Salad Days by *Fairbanks Jr*. I could not finish; the writing style and his insecurities/ emotional issues were irritating. The mammoth *Valentino* biography Dark Lover by Emily Leider was exhausting but worth it, though ultimately I couldn't finish the last 100 or so pages...oh, and for a trashy, easy/fun Hollywood read I recommend The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Wilson by Robert Hofler

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I strongly agree with the listing of The Parade's Gone By, Who the Devil Made It, Conversations with Wilder, and Print the Legend. Some others I recommend:




Robert Mitchum: Baby, I Don't Care (Lee Server)

Fritz Lang: The Nature of the Beast (Patrick McGilligan)

Accidental Genius: How John Cassavetes Invented the American Independent Film (Marshall Fine)

A Third Face: My Tale of Writing, Fighting and Filmmaking (Samuel Fuller)




What Is Cinema (Vols. I & II) (Andre Bazin)

Theory of Film (Siegried Kracauer)

Confessions of a Cultist: On the Cinema, 1955/1969 (Andrew Sarris)

Essential Cinema: On the Necessity of Film Canons (Jonathan Rosenbaum)

Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer (Paul Schrader)

Re/Search #10: Incredibly Strange Films

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> {quote:title=molo14 wrote:}{quote}. Lion of Hollywood has been setting on my shelf for a while now. I bought it for a trip I never went on. I think that will be my next book.

> Molo





I recently started reading The Lion of Hollywood and, like all of Eyman's bios I've read so far, it is thoroughly researched and his easy style makes it all digestible. A very real person will emerge out of the caricatures of legend.

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ChiO, I haven't read Accidental Genius, but it sounds interesting. I've also read some good reviews for Cassavetes on Cassavetes; has anyone read that? I wonder how the two books compare.


Speaking of the "on" style of book title, Herzog on Herzog is a riot and a half. It would be an understatement to say Werner Herzog is an unusual director, and his filmmaking adventures are quite outrageous. The bit with Herzog and his lead actor Klaus Kinski planning to kill each other is flat out nuts. A very entertaining read.


Francois Truffaut's Hitchcock is really great. I should revisit that sometime soon.


Anyone know any good books on Bergman or Godard?

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Wow, what a great thread. Over the years I've found the following books extremely helpful in doing any study or research on classic films. Many, if not all, are out of print but can be found on the internet either on EBay or used book sites"


_Goldwyn_ by A. Scott Berg -- beautifully researched and well-written biography of one of the pioneers of Hollywood


_Beyond Paradise_ by Andre Soares -- definitive biography of Ramon Navarro; in addition to following Navarro's career, the book gives great insight into studio policies and politics


_Mother Goddam_ by Whitney Stone with a running commentary by Bette Davis -- great history of Bette's career with her take on many events and occurrences


_Sisters: The Story of Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine_ by Charles Higham -- great fun read on the rivalry between the two sisters


_The Making of the Wizard of Ox_ by Aljean Harmetz -- wonderful story of how a great studio produced one of the greatest films of the 20th century


_The Magic Factory: How MGM Made "An American in Paris"_ by Donald Knox -- through examination of the "Dream Factory" and how it operated


_Crown Studio Series_ a series of books published in the 1980's; each of which focused on a particular studio listing all of the films it produced during the Golden Age. Brief synopsis and picture are given for each film.

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You've all given me some great reading ideas. I'm going to use this thread as a reference for my future choices. Thanks!


*ILoveRayMilland wrote*

"Hollywood's First Choices: (or why Groucho Marx never played Rhett Butler)" By Jeff Burkhart and Bruce Stuart


This looks like a fun read.




Very interesting choices. Forgotten Horrors looks like a good series.


*Norma Desmond*


Thanks for your list. Interesting comments about the Rooney book. If anyone has been through it all it's Rooney and he's still working. I'm a fan of Fairbanks Jr. so it's a disappointment that his book wasn't very good. I really liked Bombshell:The Life and Death of Jean Harlow by David Stenn and would recommend it.


I'll have more comments shortly.


Thanks again,



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*ccbaxter* wrote

I highly recommend Cameron Crowe's interview book with Billy Wilder, Conversations with Wilder.


I've read this one and it's great. Crowe does a very good job asking interesting questions and gets a lot out of Wilder.




One of my older brothers was a big horror fan and collected a lot of books during the 60's and early 70's. It's been a while since I snooped through his collection. I read a lot of them when I was a kid and it would be interesting to take another look at them.




Thanks for your comments on Lion of Hollywood. I'm looking forward to this one.


A very real person will emerge out of the caricatures of legend.


That should be fascinating. I'm interested in learning more about the man.




Thanks for your suggestions. I've heard good things about Goldwyn. Mother Goddam looks fun. I had no idea there was a book about Olivia and Joan. I found all three available on Amazon.



Thanks for your list as well. Robert Mitchum: Baby I Don't Care kinda jumped out at me. I'm a big Mitchum fan.


*Izcutter* and *ChiO*,

I am well into The Parade's Gone By now. I'm really leaning a lot about that era and about the people. It's a great read. A very entertaining and informative book. I may be visiting the silent board more often.



The Psychotronic Encyclopedia


Now that one never occurred to me. It looks like a fun read.

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For a pretty good picture of the "old days," I'd recommend Max Wilk's The Wit and Wisdom of Hollywood. I'm not sure if it's still in print, but you might be able to dig up a copy in a second hand bookstore or e-Bay.


I found this at several online retailers. I couldn't find much information but it seems like the type of book I would enjoy.


You bring up a good point about availability. Some books can get kind of pricey if you can find them at all. The Norma Shearer book I mentioned is hard to find and I've seen copies available for well north of a hundred bucks.


I've made some good finds at used bookstores. A small used bookstore in my town that's near a large university has some very rare finds from time to time.


I work at a university library and their interlibrary loan department has been pretty good about getting me what I want. If there is something you can't find, or is too expensive, or you're just not sure about buying, I highly recommend going this route. It's *free.* Where I work it's restricted to faculty, staff and students but I think most public libraries provide the same service. I'm on the east coast and have had them get books for me that came from west coast library collections. This is a great service to use.

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Joefilmone, I got The Psychotronic Encyclopedia when it first came out and went ape for it. At that time it seemed people were first rediscovering "bad films" as a form of entertainment. I was in my glory renting all kinds of goofy movies that would probably make programming for TCM Underground. What a fun book that was.

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How could I forget to mention: Hollywood Babylon by Kenneth Anger?>>


No offense but this book is filled with lots of misinformation and lots of salucious gossip posing as fact.


Not denying it isn't a good read but most of it should be taken with a grain of salt.

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No offense but this book is filled with lots of misinformation and lots of salucious gossip posing as fact.


Not denying it isn't a good read but most of it should be taken with a grain of salt.


I know, but the gossip and misinformation is what makes it so entertaining!

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A tad off topic, but I'm hoping someone may help me.

After watching Frenzy early Tuesday morning, I reached for the nearest Hicthcock book on hand for reference.. (I'm sure I have one other, and thought I had the Truffaut from long ago).

The book on hand, which I'd picked up off the paperback shelf 24 years ago and resurfaced while I was going through old books, is The Dark Side of Genius:The Life of Alfred Hitchcock by Donald Spoto. I have no idea what reputation the author or the book may have. He's already erred once on the side of sensationlism, and I'm not that knowledgeable. Despite the extensive bibliography, I'm not sure how much credence I should grant it. I do enjoy reading of the background to Hichcock's films, but I hesitate to quote it if it's a total hatchet job.

On happier matters, I've really enjoyed this thread and have been madly jotting down titles. I'm ignorant of a lot of Hollywood history, who did what films for what studio and the like, and your information is invaluable. My favorite two film books are both books of criticism that I use as reference:

Pauline Kael's Kiss Kiss Bang Bang from 1968 which has a section for Movies on Televison, discussing many classic movies being shown on tv back then, and

Andrew Sarris's The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929-1968. It gives an overview of what must be a couple hundred directors, a directorial index, and a listing of films he considered significant from 1915-1967, picking up to about 20 a year in the '20's and expanding to 40 or so per year.

These have been with me for a long, long time. Kael and Sarris, along with Judith Crist doing reviews in TV Guide back then (and with Richard Schickel a close fourth) were my favorite critics. Maltin has been invaluable as a reference. Coming at movies from so many different directions gave me a better sense of things. I've never found a critic I always agree with, but I enjoy reading their opinions.

Thank you for your assistance, and major thanks for the thread.

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