Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

Recommended Posts

Use whatever criteria you wish: books you read early that
made a deep impression on you, books that have stood the
test of time, recent books you were impressed by, or whatever.

Here are a few that were significant for me:

 

9GjBJUG.jpg

One of the first books on the subject I ever read, and like so
many other movie buffs of my generation I was heavily
influenced by it, as well as Halliwell's Film Guide, Halliwell's
Hundred, etc... I can remember reading it barely into my
teens and wondering why this author guy was so damned
concerned with this thing called "aspect ratio" lol
 

 

RihpIdl.jpg

The only laugh-out-loud book on comedy, this had an
enormous impact on my own sense of humor. Adamson has
also written excellent books on animation, such as a history
of Bugs Bunny and a study of Tex Avery.
 

 

60ybn6G.jpg

America's most distinguished theatre critic looks at the great
silent movie comedians. Some of his judgments are
questionable, but he is always interesting and often very
insightful. The beautiful illustrations helped those of us who
did not have access to the films in those pre-video, pre-
cable days.

 

 

weMYgAH.jpg

The first of Brownlow's numerous books (and eventually,
films) on the silent era. Served as a fascinating introduction to the era for me.
 

 

4JSEnvC.jpg

Like Halliwell this was a basic primer (if more detailed) in
various aspects of film.
 

 

ws0lavc.jpg

This was perhaps the first time I saw the WB cartoons I
loved treated with critical respect and understanding. And
Maltin whetted my appetite for a director whose work I would not see for a few more years yet, one Tex Avery.

 

OjyF9hF.jpg

The answer to the auteurist caste system in The American
Cinema by Andrew Sarris (Corliss' former professor). Still
useful as a corrective to that misjudged school of thought.
 

 

PzNm9F2.jpg

Goldman is himself a successful screenwriter, so his
perspective on the both the craft and the business is very
valuable.
 

 

w6Itbyn.jpg

Despite some errors this remains my favorite general film
history.

 

1xShiXm.jpg

 

Long out of print, this is my favorite collection of Hollywood anecdotes. If you're ever able to find a copy, don't pass it up.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Richard,

I too loved Kevin Brownlow's The Parade's Gone By.  One of my recent favourites is Joseph McBride's Searching For John Ford.  I think he really managed to get to the heart of what made Ford tick.  Not an easy task.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have the Marx Brothers book you have pictured here. One of the first books on film I ever bought. One of my faves, and there are several, is The Making of King Kong. I can't give you the author's name, as I am not home at this time.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a book called "The Movies: The Sixty Year Story of the World of Hollywood and the Effect on America from Pre-Nickeldon Days to the Present" by Richard Griffith and Arthur Mayer. It is a coffee table type book published in 1957. It belonged to my dad's older sister and every time we would visit I would get that book and pour over the great pictures, many of them of people I've only come to know through watching classic movies throughout the last 25 years or so. When my aunt downsized sometime iin the seventies we came to own it. Only then did I get interested in the text that went along with the great pics. Even though it's in danger of falling apart, it's still my favorite Hollywood book.

Link to post
Share on other sites

When I was a kid, I used to spend hours looking at/reading my parents' copy of Life Goes to the Movies. A big, coffee-table book with lots of photos. That was how I first became familiar with many stars of the studio era. 

 

Sandy K

Link to post
Share on other sites

The first time a film book gently blew my mind was when I found Truffaut: Hitchcock around the age of thirteen. I was fascinated by the two men’s tone, analyses and ”inside” talk, and the occasionally self-effacing Hitch. It made met hink about those I had seen from Hitccock’s work and made me hungry for the many I hadn’t yet had the chance to see. Still love to take this out and browse now and then.

 

Halliwell: Used to buy the annual updates of the Guide and the Companion for quite a while. Generally on the same page as the author regarding films up to around 1960, on later films he tended to be more conservative. Also enjoyed Halliwell’s Hundred, extended essays on his favorite films, The Dead That Walk, on horror movies, and Double Take and Fade Away, on comedy.

 

Joe Adamson pulls off a dangerous stunt: trying to be funny when writing about comedians. Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Sometimes Zeppo was indeed well thumbed and digested. Also enjoyed two books by the same author on animation: Tex Avery: King of Cartoons and Bugs Bunny: 60 Years and Only One Grey Hare.

 

Adamson co-wrote and produced two excellent TV documentaries on the Marxes and W.C. Fields.

 

Used to love the ”photo novella” style books of Richard J. Anobile, combining dialogue and film frames. I think he started with best-of books on the Marx Brothers, Fields, Abbott & Costello and Laurel & Hardy. A little later he edited several editions of The Classic Film Library presenting complete movies in this fashion. Among those, I was especially enamored of Frankenstein, which I knew by heart years before I finally got to see the actual film.

 

Alas, the years have not been kind to Anobile’s books. Home video has rendered them pretty much obsolete, and his prefaces with analyses of the films and filmmakers in question often lead to head-scratching. Also a bit off-putting is his choice to include dialogue only, no indication of other sounds such as doorbells, gunshots, off-screen screaming etc.

 

Maltin’s Of Mice and Magic: Yes!

 

Brownlow’s The Parade’s Gone By: Another yes! (But a more recent read for me.)

 

Walter Kerr's book has been on the "to get" list for far too long...

 

Among later discoveries, two favorite authors are Glenn Mitchell and Joseph McBride.

 

Mitchell is an excellent and engaging authority on early comedy who writes his books in lexical form: The Chaplin Encyclopedia, The Laurel & Hardy Encyclopedia, The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia, The A-Z of Silent Comedy. Highly browsable and nigh-unputdownable.

 

McBride has written two fine director's biographies I keep returning to.

 

6A6da01.jpg

 

 

NRSrkDW.jpg

 

I see he's written one on Welles also, so that one may be on my Xmas list along with the Kerr volume.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

I have that MGM book as well as the same type (format), of book for Warner Brothers,  Paramount and Universal.   Good reference material.   Not much detail per film but it covers every film that studio released for the years covered.   

 

I would like to get the same type of book for RKO,  Columbia and Fox\20th Century but I don't know if they were ever produced or not.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have that MGM book as well as the same type (format), of book for Warner Brothers,  Paramount and Universal.   Good reference material.   Not much detail per film but it covers every film that studio released for the years covered.   

 

I would like to get the same type of book for RKO,  Columbia and Fox\20th Century but I don't know if they were ever produced or not.

 

I have the one for RKO. I think one was also done for United Artists. Columbia I'm not sure. I don't think Fox was done for that series, but a similar book, less well illustrated, was done by another company around the same time.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Halliwell: Used to buy the annual updates of the Guide and the Companion for quite a while. Generally on the same page as the author regarding films up to around 1960, on later films he tended to be more conservative.

 

This is almost exactly how I looked at Halliwell. He was my go-to for the studio era, but for eccentricities like AIP and other drive-in fodder, I found Maltin to be a bit hipper.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The first one that I ever saw was William K. Everson's THE BAD GUYS - which my mother brought home from the library. I so loved it that I took it out again on my own card on the same trip as when she brought it back. Little did I know that in about a year and a half I would meet and be befriended by Everson.

 

I had two bios of Bogart, authored by Richard Gehman and Joe Hyams. I must have a dozen books on Bogie now.

 

Another person whom I would meet eventually was Carlos Clarens who authored "The Illustrated History of the Horror Film" the first serious book on the subject - not counting the error-prone Drake Douglas book aptly titled "Horror" which came out a year earlier in 1966.

 

I owned all of the above before I was 16.

 

Another early favorite was John Baxter's "Science Fiction in the Cinema" which came out in 1970. Around that time I bought Capra's autobiography which even then I found a bit too self-serving but an enjoyable book if you want to consider he's depicting his own life as one similar to his heroes.

 

Greg Mank's book "It's Alive" about the Frankenstein series made a big impression, especially since I could identify many of the quoted pieces from monster mags of my childhood. A friend loaned me "Agee on Film" somewhere around 1969-70, I was slow to give it back because I read it over and over. But unlike one of my own books, I didn't take it out of the house to read while commuting - this was a loan and I didn't want to lose it. 

 

The Steven K. Scheuer "TV Key Movie Guide" was a big help as I used to thumb through it with a box of Cheez-It crackers and like Montag in Fahrenheit 451, I set about to memorize titles, dates and cast info. Well, blessed with nearly total recall, I really only had to read it. Trouble is that some of the errors would come back to haunt me. "The Heavies" by Ian and Elizabeth Cameron had slim bios on perhaps 30 players frequently cast as bad guys in films that were still then considered B level. I liked it because it gave credit to a lot of the directors whom I enjoyed but weren't quite yet enjoying critical acceptance - Karlson, Aldrich, Ray, Fleischer, Boetticher.

 

I've got a collection of about 500 books on movies and TV here, but am somewhat just referring now to the early ones as they're what spurred everything else. As some more come to mind, I'll be back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a good number of film books but here are four favorites that come to mind for me:

 

1) People Will Talk by John Kobal.  Interviews with the luminaries from the 20s onward, among others Gloria Swanson, Louise Brooks, Mae West, Joan Blondell, Joan Crawford, Irene Dunne, Barbara Stanwyck, Katharine Hepburn, and on and on - 41 stars in all.  Truly a great read; I loved "hearing" the interviews in their unique "voices."

 

2) Who The Devil Made it by Peter Bogdanovich.  Conversations with 16 directors.  Great companion piece to #1.

 

3) The Star Machine by Jeanine Basinger.  Hollywood as a "manufacturing industry", creating the Golden Age stars, with all the positive and negative associated with it.

 

4) For star autobiography, I vote for Harpo Speaks as the most interesting read.  I've already read it multiple times and I'm sure will turn to it at some point again. :)

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

McBride has written two fine director's biographies I keep returning to.

 

6A6da01.jpg

 

 

NRSrkDW.jpg

 

I see he's written one on Welles also, so that one may be on my Xmas list along with the Kerr volume.

 

A few years ago I read a Ford bio I didn't care for. It may have been this one. I don't trust anybody who likes 7 Women.

 

I did like this:

 

ZwhwV9u.png

 

It mercifully spares us the auteurist drivel of every Hawks film as a masterpiece and gives a balanced view of his career.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Around that time I bought Capra's autobiography which even then I found a bit too self-serving but an enjoyable book if you want to consider he's depicting his own life as one similar to his heroes.

 

Somehow, a copy of Capra's autobio ended up at my house a few years after it came out. If I had to guess I'd say my mother bought it off a remainder table (she was insatiable when it came to biographies). I was still a preteen but ended up reading it anyway. Even though I had barely heard of Capra and knew nothing of what he was writing about, I still got a self-serving air from the book.

 

Around the time Capra's book came out, he appeared in a roundtable interview on The Dick Cavett Show with Robert Altman, Mel Brooks, and Peter Bogdanovich. In the clips I've seen, Altman says virtually nothing, Bogdanovich predictably attempts to hog the spotlight, and Mel is Mel -- he tells a story about working for Harry Cohn that I've never seen him tell anywhere else.

 

Any sense of directors giving and taking disappears when Capra opens his mouth. He seems to be doing a different show from the others. He is deadly serious -- no self-deprecation here. And even when he makes an interesting claim -- as when he suggests the decline of visual comedy was not due to talkies, but rather because of silent comedians having their thunder stolen by animated cartoons -- he does it so grimly Cavett doesn't bother pursuing the idea.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a good number of film books but here are four favorites that come to mind for me:

 

1) People Will Talk by John Kobal.  Interviews with the luminaries from the 20s onward, among others Gloria Swanson, Louise Brooks, Mae West, Joan Blondell, Joan Crawford, Irene Dunne, Barbara Stanwyck, Katharine Hepburn, and on and on - 41 stars in all.  Truly a great read; I loved "hearing" the interviews in their unique "voices."

 

I should have mentioned this one.  You're right, it's one of those "doorstop" books that you can't put down, in spite of its length.

 

3) The Star Machine by Jeanine Basinger.  Hollywood as a "manufacturing industry", creating the Golden Age stars, with all the positive and negative associated with it.

 

Anything by Basinger's worth reading, and I'd also include her Silent Stars and A Woman's View.

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm another huge fan of Jeanine Basinger, especially The Star Machine and A Woman's View.

 

Kevin Brownlow's biography of David Lean is excellent. Very good on what working conditions in the British cinema were like when Lean began his work as an editor. Information about the films and about Lean's messy personal life--like Henry VIII, he had six wives.

 

Richard, thank you for telling us that Todd McCarthy's bio of Hawks isn't auteurist gush. Like you, I tend to question the judgment of critics who gush over Ford's 7 Women.

 

Mark Harris' Pictures at a Revolution is one of the best film books I've ever read, beautifully written and well researched. Harris manages to be fair to all five of the movies nominated for Best Picture in 1967 and to their makers. A great view of the changing scene at the end of the studio era.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Mark Harris' Pictures at a Revolution is one of the best film books I've ever read, beautifully written and well researched. Harris manages to be fair to all five of the movies nominated for Best Picture in 1967 and to their makers. A great view of the changing scene at the end of the studio era.

 

This is one of the books every movie buff should read

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't trust anybody who likes 7 Women.

 

Wait, don't tell me - Kaspar Gutman, right?

 

It may well have been the McBride book you read, as he is indeed favorably disposed towards that film. But I'll forgive that revisionist lapse in a tome that on the whole is well written, balanced and informative, and definitely not an uncritical fanboy's hagiography.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Books being one of my passions (along with classic films, music and traveling), books on all aspects of cinema play a prominent role on my bookshelves and reading lists. I have way too many (but never enough) volumes on all aspects of films during the classic studio era, followed by tomes on world cinema (I dont have the same passion for current films, although I see most releases). I do like the series put out by Citadel, Penguin, etc. going over the filmography of different artists. I also enjoy the series done by James Robert Parish also chronicling stars, usually grouped by genre or studio. I have all the large books listing the movies of a given studio. Numerous bigraphies on stars, directors, etc.

 

One of my favorite movie books ever is "From Scarface to Scarlett", which gives short descriptions (by necessity) of almost all A films and programmers produced by Hollywood in the 1930s, in more genre permutations you could think possible.

 

Probably the most influential book ever, which got me thoroughly hooked in a passionate way to classic movies, was "An Illustrated History of the Talkies", which was the rage of my sixth grade class. The initial attraction was the photos of Universal horrors like FRANKENSTEIN, DRACULA, etc. but soon enough, I realized the stills of many movies I had seen, and even more, have since.seen.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Not movies but I'll mention it anyway

 

3IvgGjU.jpg

 

 

This is a prolifically illustrated history of US television up to 1966, sort of the TV version of books like A Pictorial History Of The Silent Screen. It has thousands of publicity shots and still photos from numerous live TV plays, specials, kiddie shows, and other various formats, often of very obscure programs.

 

I got a remaindered copy when I was around 11. I must have been the only pre-teen in America who knew there'd been a TV version of Mary Poppins in 1950.

 

Although I haven't seen a copy in 30+ years. I can still quote some of the picture captions:

 

"E.G. Marshall was unknown beyond Broadway when he began appearing in live TV plays."

 

Then just below:

 

"John Cassavetes was unknown anywhere when he began appearing in live TV plays."

 

The book is probably still a very valuable resource, in some cases perhaps the only evidence some now-lost broadcasts ever existed.

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

I just saw Hurrell's Hollywood Photographs book at Barnes and Noble yesterday and I thumbed through this enormous book for a few minutes and it contained so many gorgeous pictures, I was wishing that 1) I had a coffee table to display this on; 2) I owned a home that could contain said coffee table; 3) that this book didn't cost $60.  When I procure the home and coffee table; I may look for this book used along with some others.  Who doesn't love a rotating group of coffee table books?

 

hurrell-1.jpg

 

I Love Lucy: The Complete Picture History.  I loved this book, it was very informative and interesting.  The highlight of course, per the title, were all the pictures.

 

ilovelucy.png

 

I Love Lucy Book.  Another excellent book about I Love Lucy.

 

ilovelucy2.png

 

A Book, Desi Arnaz.  My second favorite celebrity autobiography.  I saw this book on sale for $5 at a used bookstore in my hometown when I was in middle school, so of course, I snapped it up.  I have never seen another copy of this book on sale ever since. 

 

abook.jpg

 

My favorite celebrity autobiography-- My Wicked, Wicked Ways, by Errol Flynn.  This book is hilarious and fascinating.  I didn't want to put it down.  When I got down to the last 10 or so pages, I actually would only read one or two pages at a time trying to stretch it out because I didn't want it to end.  Even though, I easily could have finished it in one sitting.  I finally had to return it to the library, which was sad.  I now have my own copy, so all is well in the world again.

 

mywicked.png

 

Everyone has such interesting books listed; I'm looking forward to shopping for coffee table books when I finally buy my house!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have always liked WWII movies but I really never understood why until I read Jeanne Basinger's "World War II Combat Films"  and now I don't watch a WWII movies without it at my side.  The same goes for the book about the Arthur Freed Unit at MGM.  After becoming blasé about viewing all the songs and dance I begin to evaluate scene composition and costumes.  I certainly look at Gigi and On the Town from a totally different viewpoint after I read about filming the two movies.  So as I watch I read. 

 

Now one book I never read during the film is the wonderful book on Casablanca by an author whose name I cannot pronounce or recall but it looks at the movie from all the different perspectives of production and casting and that led me to a book about Hollywood ex-patriots who provided much of the social backdrop for Ricks and Casablanca.  But then I will read a chapter after the movie to refresh my mind about a certain aspect of the movie.  I must say I love the Ingrid Bergman's costumes in the movie so that now has me searching for biographies of the famous movie designers. 

 

There is another great book by twin sisters about 40 character actors with a brief bio and a filmography which I also refer too during some movies and this has resulted in my trying to campaign for a Character of the Month or birthday celebrations for character actors like they did for George Sanders not to long ago. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I just saw Hurrell's Hollywood Photographs book at Barnes and Noble yesterday and I thumbed through this enormous book for a few minutes and it contained so many gorgeous pictures, I was wishing that 1) I had a coffee table to display this on; 2) I owned a home that could contain said coffee table; 3) that this book didn't cost $60.  When I procure the home and coffee table; I may look for this book used along with some others.  Who doesn't love a rotating group of coffee table books?

 

If you don't mind paperbacks, Dover Books has many books with glamour shots of actors from the studio era, all priced way under $60, and they're even cheaper when you look for used copies on Amazon or abebooks.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I just saw Hurrell's Hollywood Photographs book at Barnes and Noble yesterday and I thumbed through this enormous book for a few minutes and it contained so many gorgeous pictures, I was wishing that 1) I had a coffee table to display this on; 2) I owned a home that could contain said coffee table; 3) that this book didn't cost $60.  When I procure the home and coffee table; I may look for this book used along with some others.  Who doesn't love a rotating group of coffee table books?

 

If you don't mind paperbacks, Dover Books has many books with glamour shots of actors from the studio era, all priced way under $60, and they're even cheaper when you look for used copies on Amazon or abebooks.

 

I have two Dover Books;  Movie-Star Portraits of the Forties,  and Hollywood Glamor Portraits,  both edited by John Kobal.

 

Very nice photos and well crafted books.    

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
© 2021 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...