Learning to Read Moviespeak (and enjoying it)

stop in for popcorn to goThanks to my fellow Morlock, my attention was drawn by R. Emmet Sweeney to the “Reading Movies Meme” that started over on The Dancing Image blog, so I decided to take the plunge and mull over the movie books which had the greatest impact on me this week. I hope that readers will list their own faves as well.

While one of the pleasures of movie viewing is that instruction is not required and we can let a film wash over us without intellectualizing the experience at all, once you start reading a bit about the movies, it can be like eating potato chips. It may not make you healthier, smarter or a more joyous human being, but boy, is it addictive. And occasionally enlightening, even when you don’t agree with the writer.

My eclectic collection of favorite and most influential movie books won’t include too many of the tomes that espouse the auteur theory, feminist interpretations or even consist of straight biographies. I had to read many books such as Marjorie Rosen’s Popcorn Venus, Andrew Sarris’ influential The American Cinema and The Film Sense by Sergei Eisenstein at one time, but this list is just what I enjoyed reading and have re-read with pleasure and continued enlightenment.

Having grown up with The New Yorker magazine and Pauline Kael as practically household deities, I found myself having had more than enough of Pauline by the time I was in my teens, though her over-the-top review of Last Tango in Paris, which compared the premiere of that movie to the night in 1913 when Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” was first performed, certainly got my attention. Since it was rated X back then when dinosaurs roamed the land, I had to wait until the earth’s crust had cooled a bit before seeing the movie.

Maybe you had to be an adult when it was first exhibited in all (well, almost all) of Brando’s glory, but it somehow didn’t seem that “Bertolucci and Brando have altered the face of an art form” by the time I caught up with it. I still admire Kael’s audacity and her bravely subjective opinions. Even though I devoured her books once, no copies of Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang, or Deeper into Movies or even 5001 Nights at the Movies would make it to the desert island with me–though I think I should go back and revisit her way of looking at the world. One other book that won’t find its way here is one that I wish that I could include–the fascinating collection edited by Philip Lopate, American Movie Critics: From the Silents Until Now. That will have to wait, though viewed from page 237, where I currently have a bookmark, it looks like a truly classic keeper.

Growing up in a very small town without much to do outside of school helped lead me to haunting the library some days, where the discovery of books on the performing arts reinforced my budding interest in those black and white studio era movies that flickered across the television screen. However, a few books on my parent’s shelf fed this interest as well. Here’s a list, in pretty much chronological order, of the books that made me realize the power and thought behind telling stories visually.

Agee on Film by James Agee

agee on filmIt would be years before I saw many of the movies that poet, novelist and journalist James Agee was writing about in these reviews, most of which were originally published in Fortune, Time and later The Nation magazines in the 1930s and 1940s. Fortunately for me, his words and his enthusiasm for the subject just jumps off the page. There were several lessons that I took away from this book. Among these are the following:

When you watch a film, you are being manipulated and when you are reading about it, you are as well.  Agee, who went on to adapt fine screenplays for John Huston with The African Queen and for Charles Laughton for The Night of the Hunter didn’t claim to have a consistent film aesthetic. I believe that’s accurate, given his quirky comments and his rejection of many of the movies that audiences eventually found compelling over time. His comments and passions are still challenging. Reading Agee, even when I disagree with his views, has never bored me. He has frequently made me laugh out loud and even think.  For example, writing about the film noir, I Walk Alone (1948) featuring Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster on screen for the first time, he said “the picture deserves, like four out of five other movies, to walk alone, tinkle a little bell, and cry ‘Unclean. Unclean.” Gets your attention, doesn’t it?

I’d never seen a Preston Sturges movie before reading Agee‘s description that compared watching The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek to “talking to a nun on a roller coaster”, but in retrospect, that may be a near perfect description. About the entertainingly mindless John Wayne-Laraine Day engineering-in-the-Andes film, Tycoon (1947), he wrote that several “tons of dynamite are set off in this picture–none of it under the right people.” At a time when the B films of Val Lewton were generally regarded as potboilers at best, the writer wrote lovingly about the magical, dark air of his movies, murmuring in print that “I arch my back and purr deep-throated approval of The Curse of the Cat People, which I caught by pure chance”.

Despite his gift for appreciation and for nailing a movie verbally, there was a streak of sometimes understandable snobbism in his evaluations. He regarded most of Hollywood’s product as junk, but dismissed movies that still strike a chord with some of us in the 21st century, notably National Velvet (1944) and Random Harvest (1942). The latter he recommended “to those who can stay interested in Ronald Colman’s amnesia for two hours and who could with pleasure eat a bowl of Yardley’s shaving soap for breakfast.” Even though you might vehemently disagree, you might find him funny.

Agee championed some films, such as Monsieur Verdoux, which he approached seriously, sometimes, I suspect, reflecting his own diffuse desire to read something significant into a movie. Even Chaplin, when faced with a tangled question from Agee at a press conference held when this movie opened to generally negative views, found it hard to know what the writer meant by his praise. But then, as he himself pointed out in a moment of clarity, “The mere attempt to examine my own confusion would consume volumes.”

Ultimately, I learned from Agee that to be enjoyable a movie hardly needs to be perfect, but can contain moments that make the experience worthwhile and so memorable. (Agee on Film Vol. II contains several of the author’s screenplays and are also worth reading).

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The Parade’s Gone By by Kevin Brownlow

The Parade's Gone By by Kevin BrownlowFew of the silent movies and filmmakers that Mr. Brownlow wrote about in this book were available to me as a kid. I think that I’d only seen Chaplin’s The Circus (1928), Griffith’s Orphans in the Storm (1921), and Fairbanks in The Mark of Zorro (1920) before reading this account of the beginnings of the movies. It didn’t matter. Kevin Brownlow is a wonderfully vivid writer, who took the time to interview many of the actors, writers, cameramen and crew people who were still living when he wrote this valentine to the cinema in the ’60s. Filled with rare photographs, comments from various interviewees, from Francis X. Bushman to Adolph Zukor to Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., it overflows with great anecdotes and the excitement of an emerging art form as Brownlow describes it with such love.

His adoration of his subject matter doesn’t blind him to the waste and folly of the period or the flaws and gifts of the individuals involved, but he writes with such appreciation for the incredible artistic and business flair that was unleashed in the movies, you can’t help but be infected with the author’s enthusiasm. I’ve recently re-read this book after many years, and if anything, I can appreciate it more now. One quibble: no mention of Clara Bow is made, which reflected the individual nature of the piece. (Louise Brooks chided Mr. B. heatedly for her absence from the volume).  Another volume that is almost as thrilling to read is Kevin Brownlow’s The War, The West and the Wilderness, which for me is highlighted by his exciting account of such films as John Ford’s The Iron Horse on location with vast cast and crew reliving the construction of the railroad across the plains. Behind the Mask of Innocence: Sex, Violence, Crime: Films of Social Conscience in the Silent Era the author’s fascinating description of early accounts of the “ripped from the headlines” material that found its way into early films and ultimately led to forms of censorship. My favorite part of this book: the tales of Texas Guinan‘s checkered movie career. This trio of books remains among the most informative I’ve ever read on the subject of early movies. They are also great fun.
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John Ford by Joseph McBride and Michael Wilmington

John Ford by Joseph McBride and Michael WilmingtonWriting with film critic Michael Wilmington, historian Joseph McBride brought out this slim volume before his monumental biography, Searching for John Ford. Like most kids, I’d grown up seeing John Ford films pretty regularly, with How Green Was My Valley (1941) an outstanding favorite in the Finnie household, (even if many of the Welsh characters seemed awfully Irish). This book made me realize that there was a singular way of looking at the world, sometimes quirky, sometimes profound, but colored by one man’s vision of the world, and especially history, both personal and human. Examining individual movies by looking at the conflicted nobility in rebels and outlaws in such movies as Wagon Master and The Searchers, the effect of war on the human beings experiencing it in Fort Apache and They Were Expendable and, of course, Ireland in The Rising of the Moon and The Quiet Man, the book made me realize the intricate understanding and contradictions that enriched Ford‘s films. Subsequent reading of the later, beautifully written full biography of the director by McBride and Scott Eyman‘s brilliant biography John Ford: Print the Legend have only taught me that you can never really stop learning about Ford’s films. Actually, every time I see one again or for the first time, something new can be learned.
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Hitchcock/Truffaut : A Definitive Study of Alfred Hitchcock by Francois Truffaut

Hitchcock and Truffaut A Definitive Study of Alfred Hitchcock by Francois TruffautBased on a series of conversations between the writer and filmmaker Francois Truffaut and Alfred Hitchcock, the interviewer found the director at his most magisterial when this book was recorded from their meetings. The book may not be the definitive study it is sometimes claimed to be, (maybe the controversial but fascinating Donald Spoto analyses of Hitch belong in that niche), but the seamless style of Hitchcock’s movies unveiled in this book has only grown for me as the movies became more familiar. The fact that the book gave impetus to my curiosity about Truffaut’s work was a plus, and, even though there are many Hitchcock films I relish, Truffaut’s work, often created as a form of homage to the master, such as The Bride Wore Black (1968) and The Woman Next Door (1981) really mean much more to me emotionally than any film of Hitchcock’s after Rebecca (1940) I know that it may be a bit “sacrilegious” to say so, but this revealed to me the skill and hard work that the familiar Hitchcock put into his movies as well as into his image-building. I don’t recall being aware of this form of high level careerism or how one filmmaker influences another before reading this chatty, and revelatory book.

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People Will Talk by John Kobal

People Will Talk by John KobalLike his fellow countryman, Kevin Brownlow, John Kobal was a British citizen who appreciated American films and filmmakers. Lovingly writing this book over a period of about two decades, the author interviewed many of the usual suspects who began to reminisce in print interviews in the ’60s, such as Howard Hawks and Gloria Swanson for this 1986 publication. He also sought out people for his 41 interviews who, sadly, were rarely spotlighted, such as Ann Sheridan, choreographer Hermes Pan, and only one actor, Joel McCrea. The interviews are preceded by one of the author’s carefully chosen photos of the subject, his own assessment of the person’s career as well as his often droll impressions of the individual after meeting him or her, all of which is highlighted by the man’s encyclopediac insights into moviemaking. A renowned collector of vintage photographs by the likes of Clarence Sinclair Bull and George Hurrell, Laszlo Willinger, and Ted Allan, (some of whom were interviewed for this book and whose work was re-discovered by the public thanks to Kobal’s efforts), the author brought his own observant eye to these interviews. He looked at his subjects with respect when they deserved it, as well as wonder and affection. This was especially true when they were, like silent and early talkie exotics, the imperious Olga Baclanova or Dagmar Godowsky, proudly eccentric in their obscurity or deliciously naughty like Joan Blondell (read the section in Blondell’s interview on Leslie Howard–I don’t want to spoil it for you, but he was a rogue!). This did not prevent Kobal from assessing what time and life has done to them as people and artists.  Arletty, the French actress who graced Les Enfants du Paradis (1945) was blind when he met her at 86 and she discusses with wry honesty, the complex wartime compromises in occupied France that led to her career fading far sooner than it should have in the postwar period.

Perhaps one of the best aspects of this book, which really doesn’t cease to be rewarding even after re-reading it, is the range of people active in pictures from the silents to the 1980s who are featured in the pages. This includes dress designers (Jean Louis, for example), directors who haven’t always received their due (Henry Hathaway) and even an occasional, legendary producer, (Arthur Freed).
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Backstory 1 Interviews with Screenwriters of Hollywood’s Golden Age by Patrick McGilligan

Backstory by Patrick McGilliganThis collection of interviews with screenwriters from the studio era is the first volume in this prolific writer’s four part Backstory series, beginning with the polished Charles Bennett, one of the more successful female screenwriters, Lenore Coffee,  the legendary, enigmatic W.R. Burnett, James M. Cain, one half of the legendary team of brother-screenwriters, Julius J. Epstein, John Lee Mahin and Donald Ogden Stewart, among others. Though I’d read Andrew Sarris’ auteur “bible” American Cinema: Directors and Directions, 1929–1968 before reading this book, it always seemed odd that so little credit was given privately or publicly to the people who wrote the clever dialogue that we associate with actors we cherish. This, it turns out from some of the bitterly funny interviews McGilligan conducted, seemed odd to the writers as well.

The books, which go up to the 1980s by Backstory 4, chronicle the fun, the frustration and the friendships made and broken in Hollywood. They also outline the labor history of a profession that has rarely been fully appreciated by scholars, or, for that matter, by some of the practitioners, who are sometimes understandably jaded about their work. Reading the Backstory series is like seeing a mosaic from close-up. As you move back from it, you begin to see the heroic scale of their contributions, even if they were often confusingly credited, and their efforts did not always come out as originally intended in this highly commercial enterprise.  You also learn more than you might want to know about the making of a sausage, (i.e. Frank Capra is described as having had a painting of Mussolini on his bedroom wall and Cecil B. DeMille allegedly had spies within the F.B.I. leaking him info). The writers are sometimes a crabby group, but good company.  McGilligan, who has written wonderful biographies of Fritz Lang and Hitchcock as well, is a superb writer.
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How to Read a Film: The World of Movies, Media, Multimedia: Language, History, Theory by James Monaco

How to Read a Film by James MonacoFilm, like poetry, is something that can’t be readily explained but the author puts into words the the aesthetic and technical processes that our brains’ experience when we watch a movie. When I first read this book, I was overwhelmed by it, but have come to appreciate it as a primer for understanding how such things that I’m normally oblivious too, (being a happy peasant), such as the aspect ratio, film stock, optical effects, and lighting really affect my experience as a viewer. Monaco also devotes a portion of the book to the defining the differences between expressionism and neorealism and what makes a movie a reflection of one school or another. The author writes about the experience of watching a movie in accessible, non-jargon that I find has continued to be useful to me as I keep trying to learn more about the art  form.

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The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
The Moviegoer by Walker Percy You know the feeling. You’ve just seen a movie that affected you deeply and you want to hang on to the way that it makes the world seem to be a different place–at least for awhile. This novel is about a character who has this same kind of urge, and tries to sustain this experience repeatedly, especially since his own life seems to pale in comparison to that colorful action and sophistication on the screen. Written in 1962, The Moviegoer is a novel that I re-read every few years because this short but rather profound book feeds my soul and wakes me up, making me think about the world, my place in it, and how to process the experiences of life spiritually and intellectually–especially if you are a movie fan.

This novel is concerned with the inner life of Binx Bolling, a well-to-do stockbroker and Korean war veteran, whose anomie is relieved by those fleeting moments when a moment of cinematic fantasy lifts him out of his bland existence. Over the course of the book, Walker Percy amusingly and beautifully describes moments in such seminal films as Stagecoach, The Third Man, Panic in the Streets, Red River, Holiday, The Ox-Bow Incident, All Quiet on the Western Front, Tarzan and even The Young Philadelphians that bring a kind of meaning to the lead character’s seemingly empty, absurd existence. Percy‘s quiet hero, who has felt unmoored from the reality around him since one singularly intense experience,  gradually awakens to the world and the people outside the darkened theater, so much more vivid, messy and complicated than the fleeting, briefly transformative moments to be experienced at a movie. As Binx spends much of the novel trying to find a way out of what he increasingly sees as “a world of sameness”, the author, who clearly loved films, communicates how our intoxication with the cinema may distort our ability to see and act as our own hero or heroine in each of our lives after the lights come up in the theater. Though some people hate this book,  I’ve read it more than once and find something new in it each time I read it. Perhaps you will too.

0 Response Learning to Read Moviespeak (and enjoying it)
Posted By suzidoll : June 10, 2009 10:31 pm

This favorite book idea is fun. I enjoy reading the lists of my fellow Morlocks not only for recommendations for books I don’t have but also to see if anyone likes the same ones I do. I own several on your list, Moira, or I have at least read them, including parts of Agee on Film, the Ford bio by McBride, the Monaco book, and parts of the Truffaut/Hitchcock book.

I took a two-part class on Ford last year at Facets (don’t get jealous), and the instructor quoted from the McBride book quite a bit.

Okay, I have to take the plunge and put together a list for my post. Thanks for the idea, R. Emmet Sweeney.

Posted By suzidoll : June 10, 2009 10:31 pm

This favorite book idea is fun. I enjoy reading the lists of my fellow Morlocks not only for recommendations for books I don’t have but also to see if anyone likes the same ones I do. I own several on your list, Moira, or I have at least read them, including parts of Agee on Film, the Ford bio by McBride, the Monaco book, and parts of the Truffaut/Hitchcock book.

I took a two-part class on Ford last year at Facets (don’t get jealous), and the instructor quoted from the McBride book quite a bit.

Okay, I have to take the plunge and put together a list for my post. Thanks for the idea, R. Emmet Sweeney.

Posted By MovieMan0283 : June 10, 2009 11:01 pm

Well, you definitely got into the spirit of the exercise here! I’ve read a bit of Agee (mostly in anthologies) and enjoyed his writing but never pursued it. Your celebration of him has done for me exactly what you claim his reviews of movies have done for you: I am now quite eager to explore the writer you pay tribute to so eloquently.

*A note to your readers: I will be compiling a master list of everyone’s responses to “Reading the Movies” exercise. To do so, I need blogs to link up to, so if you have a blog, make sure you put up your list there (instead of just leaving it in a comment). And leave a comment here or on my blog with the link so I’ll know. Thanks, and enjoy…

Posted By MovieMan0283 : June 10, 2009 11:01 pm

Well, you definitely got into the spirit of the exercise here! I’ve read a bit of Agee (mostly in anthologies) and enjoyed his writing but never pursued it. Your celebration of him has done for me exactly what you claim his reviews of movies have done for you: I am now quite eager to explore the writer you pay tribute to so eloquently.

*A note to your readers: I will be compiling a master list of everyone’s responses to “Reading the Movies” exercise. To do so, I need blogs to link up to, so if you have a blog, make sure you put up your list there (instead of just leaving it in a comment). And leave a comment here or on my blog with the link so I’ll know. Thanks, and enjoy…

Posted By Al Lowe : June 11, 2009 12:36 am

There are some intriguing titles on your list. Perhaps I’ll get the chance to read them.

I read the McBride book and the Hitchock/Truffaut opus, which had new material and insights. However, after a while, I grew tired of most of Hitchcock’s interviews because he always seemed to tell the same stories. I do recall that he regretted the stunt with the man crawling under the merry-go-round in the conclusion of Strangers on a Train. It was too dangerous. Imagine if Hitchcock had accidentally killed someone like John Landis allegedly did during the making of The Twilight Zone. We might have been deprived of his subsequent, wonderful movies.

I suppose you saw my list of books that I sent Whats-his-name.

I’d strongly recommend reading the Decline and Fall of Hollywood by Erza Goodman, if you can get hold of it. It was published in 1961 and was out of print when I bought it.
It starts with the major coup that reporter Goodman achieved in 1947. He interviewed D.W. Griffith in an apartment room in a hotel before his death. Sad to say, he did this by bringing a blonde and a bottle of gin to the great man’s room. He kept grabbing at the blonde who playfully eluded him, or, in Goodman’s words, “kept deftly manuevering out of his reach.”
Griffith gave his opinions of recent movies: “The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek is the greatest comedy I have seen in a long time…It’s a Wonderful Life was a piece of cheese, The Best Years of Our Lives just okay, My Darling Clementine lovely.”
“There has been no improvement in movies since the old days. What the modern movie lacks is beauty, the beauty of the moving wind in the trees…Today they have forgotten movement in the moving picture. It is all still and stale.”
“I loved Citizen Kane and particularly loved the scenes he stole from me.”
After some rejections the story was printed in March, 1948 and caused a small sensation.
Four months later Griffith died and some celebrated producers who he couldn’t get on the phone attended his funeral.

Goodman wrote about publicists, critics, reporters, directors, producers, screenwriters – and some great movie stars, like Marilyn Monroe, Kim Novak, Frank Sinatra, William Holden – and Humphrey Bogart.
Bogart played gangsters so effectively that he got fan mail from San Quentin. When he switched to portraying good guys, the convicts wrote asking how he could go back on them.
“When I was making Action in the North Atlantic, Raymond Massey and I had big mock arguments over whose double was the bravest.”

There’s lots more there. And it is all good.

Posted By Al Lowe : June 11, 2009 12:36 am

There are some intriguing titles on your list. Perhaps I’ll get the chance to read them.

I read the McBride book and the Hitchock/Truffaut opus, which had new material and insights. However, after a while, I grew tired of most of Hitchcock’s interviews because he always seemed to tell the same stories. I do recall that he regretted the stunt with the man crawling under the merry-go-round in the conclusion of Strangers on a Train. It was too dangerous. Imagine if Hitchcock had accidentally killed someone like John Landis allegedly did during the making of The Twilight Zone. We might have been deprived of his subsequent, wonderful movies.

I suppose you saw my list of books that I sent Whats-his-name.

I’d strongly recommend reading the Decline and Fall of Hollywood by Erza Goodman, if you can get hold of it. It was published in 1961 and was out of print when I bought it.
It starts with the major coup that reporter Goodman achieved in 1947. He interviewed D.W. Griffith in an apartment room in a hotel before his death. Sad to say, he did this by bringing a blonde and a bottle of gin to the great man’s room. He kept grabbing at the blonde who playfully eluded him, or, in Goodman’s words, “kept deftly manuevering out of his reach.”
Griffith gave his opinions of recent movies: “The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek is the greatest comedy I have seen in a long time…It’s a Wonderful Life was a piece of cheese, The Best Years of Our Lives just okay, My Darling Clementine lovely.”
“There has been no improvement in movies since the old days. What the modern movie lacks is beauty, the beauty of the moving wind in the trees…Today they have forgotten movement in the moving picture. It is all still and stale.”
“I loved Citizen Kane and particularly loved the scenes he stole from me.”
After some rejections the story was printed in March, 1948 and caused a small sensation.
Four months later Griffith died and some celebrated producers who he couldn’t get on the phone attended his funeral.

Goodman wrote about publicists, critics, reporters, directors, producers, screenwriters – and some great movie stars, like Marilyn Monroe, Kim Novak, Frank Sinatra, William Holden – and Humphrey Bogart.
Bogart played gangsters so effectively that he got fan mail from San Quentin. When he switched to portraying good guys, the convicts wrote asking how he could go back on them.
“When I was making Action in the North Atlantic, Raymond Massey and I had big mock arguments over whose double was the bravest.”

There’s lots more there. And it is all good.

Posted By katie american mfa university : June 11, 2009 1:49 am

I love watching movies based on books and my personal favorite one is The Princess Bride as it is full of drama and entertainment. Really a magical movie to me.

Posted By katie american mfa university : June 11, 2009 1:49 am

I love watching movies based on books and my personal favorite one is The Princess Bride as it is full of drama and entertainment. Really a magical movie to me.

Posted By moirafinnie : June 11, 2009 8:57 am

Good call on The Fifty Year Decline and Fall of Hollywood by Ezra Goodman, which I read about a decade ago and enjoyed thoroughly. I think that more people would be aware of the riches in that book if some enterprising publisher would just issue it again. Fortunately, there are many affordable copies of this book around and many libraries still have a dog-eared copy.

I mostly stuck with the books I started discovering around the age of 12 that helped make me start on the lifelong road to “enlightenment through movies”, so many that I didn’t stumble across until relatively recently (like Goodman’s books or Thomson’s New Biographical Dictionary of Film) didn’t make the cut.

Thanks to MovieMan0283 for starting this ball rolling, and to R.H. Sweeney for throwing it our way here at the Movie Morlocks perch. I hope that the other readers and members of the pack join in baying at the moon over our discovery of books about a favorite topic.
All the best,
Moira

Posted By moirafinnie : June 11, 2009 8:57 am

Good call on The Fifty Year Decline and Fall of Hollywood by Ezra Goodman, which I read about a decade ago and enjoyed thoroughly. I think that more people would be aware of the riches in that book if some enterprising publisher would just issue it again. Fortunately, there are many affordable copies of this book around and many libraries still have a dog-eared copy.

I mostly stuck with the books I started discovering around the age of 12 that helped make me start on the lifelong road to “enlightenment through movies”, so many that I didn’t stumble across until relatively recently (like Goodman’s books or Thomson’s New Biographical Dictionary of Film) didn’t make the cut.

Thanks to MovieMan0283 for starting this ball rolling, and to R.H. Sweeney for throwing it our way here at the Movie Morlocks perch. I hope that the other readers and members of the pack join in baying at the moon over our discovery of books about a favorite topic.
All the best,
Moira

Posted By Mike Samerdyke : June 11, 2009 1:09 pm

I love “Dreams and Dead Ends” by Jack Shadoian, a terrific look at the gangster genre.

“A Pictorial History of the Western” by Jack (?) Parkinson really made an impression on me as a kid.

“The American Cinema” by Andrew Sarris and “Talking Pictures” by Richard Corliss are both essential in my view.

“Harold Lloyd, the Shape of Laughter” by Richard Schickel really gave me an interest in silent comedy.

Posted By Mike Samerdyke : June 11, 2009 1:09 pm

I love “Dreams and Dead Ends” by Jack Shadoian, a terrific look at the gangster genre.

“A Pictorial History of the Western” by Jack (?) Parkinson really made an impression on me as a kid.

“The American Cinema” by Andrew Sarris and “Talking Pictures” by Richard Corliss are both essential in my view.

“Harold Lloyd, the Shape of Laughter” by Richard Schickel really gave me an interest in silent comedy.

Posted By Jeff : June 12, 2009 10:51 am

Some of these would be on my list too, particularly People Will Talk (amazingly candid interviews with Hollywood legends), the enthralling Hitchcock/Truffaut interview book and The Moviegoer, one of my favorite novels that I blogged briefly about way back in the day

http://moviemorlocks.com/2007/04/28/the-moviegoer/

Posted By Jeff : June 12, 2009 10:51 am

Some of these would be on my list too, particularly People Will Talk (amazingly candid interviews with Hollywood legends), the enthralling Hitchcock/Truffaut interview book and The Moviegoer, one of my favorite novels that I blogged briefly about way back in the day

http://moviemorlocks.com/2007/04/28/the-moviegoer/

Posted By Andrew : June 16, 2009 4:27 pm

All the Morlocks have added some good summer reading suggestions here, but one book that ought to be required reading would be Michael Powell’s autobiography, “A Life in Movies: An Autobiography”. It is as close to experiencing one of The Archers’s films on paper as we can get and it is an invaluable glimpse into the mind and spirit behind his movies. (Still in print, but used copies are on the internet too.)

Good blog, as usual, Moira
-Andrew

Posted By Andrew : June 16, 2009 4:27 pm

All the Morlocks have added some good summer reading suggestions here, but one book that ought to be required reading would be Michael Powell’s autobiography, “A Life in Movies: An Autobiography”. It is as close to experiencing one of The Archers’s films on paper as we can get and it is an invaluable glimpse into the mind and spirit behind his movies. (Still in print, but used copies are on the internet too.)

Good blog, as usual, Moira
-Andrew

Posted By Diana : October 14, 2009 5:52 am

I recently bought an Spanish edition of “People will talk” (“La gente hablará” ed. Seix Barral), but you talk about 41 interviews in it. My book is a paperback edition with only 12 interviews(Gloria Swanson, Colleen Moore, Camilla Horn, Mae West, Arletty, Geroge Hurrell, Bob Coburn, Ingrid Bergman, Howard Hawks, Henry Hathaway, Hermes Pan, Arthur Freed). Would it be possible that the spanish ed. was a reduced one?
Thanks!

Posted By Diana : October 14, 2009 5:52 am

I recently bought an Spanish edition of “People will talk” (“La gente hablará” ed. Seix Barral), but you talk about 41 interviews in it. My book is a paperback edition with only 12 interviews(Gloria Swanson, Colleen Moore, Camilla Horn, Mae West, Arletty, Geroge Hurrell, Bob Coburn, Ingrid Bergman, Howard Hawks, Henry Hathaway, Hermes Pan, Arthur Freed). Would it be possible that the spanish ed. was a reduced one?
Thanks!

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