Favorite Film Related Books of 2011 (Part I.)

I enjoy reading about the movies I love almost as much as I enjoy watching them and this year I found myself doing a lot of reading. This was partially due to the fact that I’m more housebound lately but publishers were also very generous this year. I received many press releases as well as books for review during the last few months that caught my attention. Some books I encountered didn’t appeal to me but a surprising number of them kept me eagerly turning pages until I was finished reading. From lush coffee table gift books to intimate autobiographies, the range of interesting reading material I came across in 2011 was surprising, thought provoking and entertaining so I decided to compile a two-part list of my favorite film related books of the year. Some of the books on my list are fun and frivolous, while others are more weightier affairs. No matter what your reading tastes might be; these selections should appeal to all types of film fans.

Rankin/Bass’ Mad Monster Party (Miser Bros. Press)
by Rick Goldschmidt • Hardcover and soft cover, 268 pages

Like many kids, I grew up watching Rankin/Bass animated films on television and for as long as I can remember they’ve captured my imagination and my heart. But my affection for their work can’t compare to the attention they’ve received from official Rankin/Bass historian, Rick Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt is an accomplished artist and musician in his own right, but he’s devoted much of his time and talent to researching and archiving the fascinating history of Rankin/Bass. His latest book is a richly illustrated look at the Rankin/Bass film MAD MONSTER PARTY (1967), which should appeal to adults and kids alike. Rankin/Bass helped pioneer stop motion animation techniques and the book highlights their accomplishments and collects a wealth of information related to this timeless film including rare character concept sketches, storyboard art, sheet music for the film’s songs, interviews with cast and crew as well as the original shooting script and a reproduction of Dell’s Mad Monster Party comic book. It also features an introduction by Arthur Rankin himself. Rick Goldschmidt’s enthusiasm for his work is plainly apparent, which makes the book an absolute joy to read but it’s also filled with important facts and historic details about the film. You can purchase Rankin/Bass’ Mad Monster Party directly from the Miser Bros. Press shop online and author Rick Goldschmidt is currently autographing hardcover copies of the book at no extra charge whenever you place an order. For more information please visit Miser Bros. Press: http://www.miserbros.com

Saul Bass: A Life in Film and Design (Laurence King Publishers)
by Jennifer Bass & Pat Kirkham • Hardcover, 428 pages

The name Saul Bass should be familiar to most classic film fans. Bass was an innovative graphic artist who created poster art and title sequences for many renowned films including THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH (1955), THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM (1955), BONJOUR TRISTESSE (1958), VERTIGO (1958), ANATOMY OF A MURDER (1959), NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959), SPARTACUS (1960), PSYCHO (1960) and WEST SIDE STORY (1962), just to name a few. His work helped give many films a distinct and easily definable look that is still admired today. Bass also used his skills to create logos and brand identities for many recognizable companies including United Airlines, Exxon and Quaker Oats. Saul Bass: A Life in Film and Design is the first book ever published about this talented man who is considered one of the greatest American designers of the 20th century. This lush coffee table collection is packed with over 1,400 examples of his incredible body of work, accompanied by informative text that discusses his methods and details his accomplishments. The book was designed by Saul Bass’ daughter, Jennifer Bass, who is a talented designer in her own right and written by historian Pat Kirkham. Although the book offers readers an in-depth study of Bass’ techniques, his daughter’s personal stories about her father make this a surprisingly warm and inviting read. But Saul Bass: A Life in Film and Design is much more than just a good read, it’s a genuine treasure that classic film fans as well as scholars and design enthusiasts will be appreciating for a long time to come. The book can currently be purchased amazon.com.

Dueling Harlows: Race to the Silver Screen (CreateSpace)
by Tom Lisanti • Paperback and ebook, 284 pages

Author Tom Lisanti has compiled some of my favorite film books in the last decade including Film Fatales: Women in Espionage Films and Television, Glamour Girls of Sixties Hollywood and Drive-In Dream Girls, which all feature biographical information on many popular as well as unsung movie starlets. In Lisanti’s latest book he turns his attention to a little known but fascinating part of film history and details the battle that took place on the studio back lots in 1965 when two competing biographical films about actress Jean Harlow were being made in Hollywood. The book crosses decades and combines the working history of three blond bombshells I admire, Jean Harlow, Caroll Baker and Carol Lynley who was interviewed extensively for the book. Both Baker and Lynley were hired to play Harlow in separate productions the very same year but the behind-the-scenes drama ended up being much more interesting than the actual finished films. The crazy antics of dueling producers, William ‘Bill’ Sargent Jr. and Joseph E. Levine make for some fun reading and if you’re interested in the inner workings of the Hollywood studio system, Dueling Harlows: Race to the Silver Screen offers some surprisingly entertaining insights and observations. You can find the book for sale at amazon.com.

Dear Cary: My Life with Cary Grant (It Books)
by Dyan Cannon • Hardcover, Soft cover and ebook, 392 pages

In this intimate autobiography, actress Dyan Cannon recalls her complicated three-year marriage to the incomparable Cary Grant. Cannon was just 23 years old when she married the 56-year-old Hollywood legend but their age difference was only one of many obstacles that their marriage faced. Cannon details the problems Cary Grant often hid from the public including his drug use and depression but she also paints him as a loving husband and caring father who swept her off her feet. The book contains many never-before-seen photos and it’s a real treat for film fans interested in reading about one of the most celebrated and controversial couples of the 1960s. But there’s a melancholy aspect to Cannon’s book that I hadn’t expected. I got the sense that she might be holding back a bit or coloring the facts in her favor but I still found Dear Cary utterly engrossing. It’s a sensitive tell-all as well as a love letter to a ghost that offers a new and very personal look at one of Hollywood’s most beloved actors from a woman who knew him well. The book can currently be purchased at amazon.com.

Monsters in the Movies: 100 Years of Cinematic Nightmares (DK Publishing)
by John Landis, Hardcover, 320 pages

In Monsters in the Movies director John Landis (AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON; 1981) has brought together an impressive collection of film stills and poster art celebrating 100 years of movie monster history. Some of the inclusions such as the family comedy THE LITTLE VAMPIRE (2000) are questionable and the book probably won’t appeal to many seasoned horror fans looking for something a bit more meatier to chew on but the book is still a fun read. A lot of the appeal of Monsters in the Movies for me is that it’s reminiscent of the books I grew-up reading as a child such as The Pictorial History of Horror Movies by Denis Gifford. I think Landis’ new book would be a great source of inspiration for pre-teens and teenagers interested in the history of horror movies if a little nudity doesn’t scare them (or their parents) away. The book is broken up into chapters covering everything from killer Apes to terrifying Zombies and features some insightful interviews with horror film luminaries such as Christopher Lee, John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, Sam Raimi and Guillermo Del Toro. Landis clearly loves movies and his passion, as well as his sense of humor, is apparent on almost every page. Monsters in the Movies: 100 Years of Cinematic Nightmares is available from amazon.com.

This is only the first part of my two-part list of Favorite Film Related books of 2011. Please check back next Thursday for more reading recommendations! (Update 12/15: You can now find the second half of my list posted here.)

62 Responses Favorite Film Related Books of 2011 (Part I.)
Posted By JeffH : December 8, 2011 3:44 pm

The best film book of the year for me was James Curtis’ bio of Spencer Tracy-will be hard to top, IMHO.

Posted By JeffH : December 8, 2011 3:44 pm

The best film book of the year for me was James Curtis’ bio of Spencer Tracy-will be hard to top, IMHO.

Posted By changeling : December 8, 2011 3:54 pm

My fave book on movie monsters, etc. has gotta be Gifford’s picture book. My fave horror mag is Famous Monsters of Filmland:):)

Posted By changeling : December 8, 2011 3:54 pm

My fave book on movie monsters, etc. has gotta be Gifford’s picture book. My fave horror mag is Famous Monsters of Filmland:):)

Posted By suzidoll : December 8, 2011 3:55 pm

What a good idea for a post — and helpful, too. I would love to have the Saul Bass book. I look forward to Part 2.

Posted By suzidoll : December 8, 2011 3:55 pm

What a good idea for a post — and helpful, too. I would love to have the Saul Bass book. I look forward to Part 2.

Posted By Martha C. : December 8, 2011 4:02 pm

Thanks for the head’s up on the Dyan Cannon book. I didn’t know it existed, but have read many other great Grant bios. Can hardly wait to get it, what a treat! :)

Posted By Martha C. : December 8, 2011 4:02 pm

Thanks for the head’s up on the Dyan Cannon book. I didn’t know it existed, but have read many other great Grant bios. Can hardly wait to get it, what a treat! :)

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 8, 2011 4:05 pm

JeffH – I haven’t read Curtis’ Spencer Tracy bio so it didn’t make my the first part or the second part of my list. It sounds interesting though and I love Tracy so thanks for mentioning it.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 8, 2011 4:05 pm

JeffH – I haven’t read Curtis’ Spencer Tracy bio so it didn’t make my the first part or the second part of my list. It sounds interesting though and I love Tracy so thanks for mentioning it.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 8, 2011 4:06 pm

changeling – Gifford’s book is terrific! I hadn’t realized that he kept it updated until I came across it at amazon while I was researching this piece. I still have my beat-up 1973 copy that I treasure. Picture books like that are a great introduction to horror movies, especially when you’re a kid. I couldn’t get enough of it when I was growing-up.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 8, 2011 4:06 pm

changeling – Gifford’s book is terrific! I hadn’t realized that he kept it updated until I came across it at amazon while I was researching this piece. I still have my beat-up 1973 copy that I treasure. Picture books like that are a great introduction to horror movies, especially when you’re a kid. I couldn’t get enough of it when I was growing-up.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 8, 2011 4:09 pm

Suzidoll – Thanks! The Bass book is incredible. I gave it to my husband as birthday gift last month (he’s a graphic artist himself) and he absolutely loved it.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 8, 2011 4:09 pm

Suzidoll – Thanks! The Bass book is incredible. I gave it to my husband as birthday gift last month (he’s a graphic artist himself) and he absolutely loved it.

Posted By JeffH : December 8, 2011 4:16 pm

Kimberly-we actually had 2 good books that had Cary Grant as the main character: Dyan Cannon’s and the book that the daughter she and Grant had together came out with earlier in the year.

Posted By JeffH : December 8, 2011 4:16 pm

Kimberly-we actually had 2 good books that had Cary Grant as the main character: Dyan Cannon’s and the book that the daughter she and Grant had together came out with earlier in the year.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 8, 2011 4:18 pm

Martha C. – Hope you enjoy it once you read it. I”ve always liked Cannon so I found the book really interesting.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 8, 2011 4:18 pm

Martha C. – Hope you enjoy it once you read it. I”ve always liked Cannon so I found the book really interesting.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 8, 2011 4:20 pm

JeffH – I’m aware of Jennifer Grant’s book but I found her mother’s book more insightful and interesting. Although if they were read together, they’d paint a fascinating family portrait of Cary Grant.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 8, 2011 4:20 pm

JeffH – I’m aware of Jennifer Grant’s book but I found her mother’s book more insightful and interesting. Although if they were read together, they’d paint a fascinating family portrait of Cary Grant.

Posted By Jim Vecchio : December 8, 2011 4:22 pm

I’d like to throw in a good word about my ‘e-saddle pal’, Bobby Copeland, who is a speaker at many movie conventions and has written a ton of stuff, mainly on the b-westerners. Any one of his books is full of entertainment and FACTS. He is also the KING OF TRIVIA!

Posted By Jim Vecchio : December 8, 2011 4:22 pm

I’d like to throw in a good word about my ‘e-saddle pal’, Bobby Copeland, who is a speaker at many movie conventions and has written a ton of stuff, mainly on the b-westerners. Any one of his books is full of entertainment and FACTS. He is also the KING OF TRIVIA!

Posted By AL : December 8, 2011 6:04 pm

Great article! Do you plan on including the Pauline Kael bio ?

Posted By AL : December 8, 2011 6:04 pm

Great article! Do you plan on including the Pauline Kael bio ?

Posted By Pamela Porter : December 9, 2011 12:43 am

I have the aforementioned Spence Tracy bio on my list, but I’m adding the “Dueling Harlows” to it.

Thanks!

Posted By Pamela Porter : December 9, 2011 12:43 am

I have the aforementioned Spence Tracy bio on my list, but I’m adding the “Dueling Harlows” to it.

Thanks!

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 9, 2011 4:14 pm

AL – Thanks! As for Kael’s book, I’m afraid not. I haven’t read it yet but I have difficulty with Kael in general. Don’t share much in common with her I’m afraid. Her tastes, approach to writing, etc. is often the polar opposite of myself but I have a lot of respect for her as a fellow female film writer. If a publisher had sent me her book to review it may have very well made my list for all I know.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 9, 2011 4:14 pm

AL – Thanks! As for Kael’s book, I’m afraid not. I haven’t read it yet but I have difficulty with Kael in general. Don’t share much in common with her I’m afraid. Her tastes, approach to writing, etc. is often the polar opposite of myself but I have a lot of respect for her as a fellow female film writer. If a publisher had sent me her book to review it may have very well made my list for all I know.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 9, 2011 4:17 pm

Pamela – Nice to see another vote for the Tracy biography! It sounds like it’s well worth a read. Hope you enjoy Dueling Harlows. It’s such an unusual story and an odd bit of film history that I really appreciated it and I do love all the actors involved.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 9, 2011 4:17 pm

Pamela – Nice to see another vote for the Tracy biography! It sounds like it’s well worth a read. Hope you enjoy Dueling Harlows. It’s such an unusual story and an odd bit of film history that I really appreciated it and I do love all the actors involved.

Posted By CJ Shank : December 9, 2011 7:28 pm

One of the best books I’ve read this year is Ann Harding Cinema’s Gallant Lady by Scott O’Brien and Mick LaSalle. I’m looking forward to the Tracy bio as i asked for it for Christmas. I have the Cary Grant book (the one by his daughter that came out this year was good) but have not read Dyan Cannon’s book yet.

Posted By CJ Shank : December 9, 2011 7:28 pm

One of the best books I’ve read this year is Ann Harding Cinema’s Gallant Lady by Scott O’Brien and Mick LaSalle. I’m looking forward to the Tracy bio as i asked for it for Christmas. I have the Cary Grant book (the one by his daughter that came out this year was good) but have not read Dyan Cannon’s book yet.

Posted By dukeroberts : December 10, 2011 8:07 am

These all sound great. I look forward to part 2.

Posted By dukeroberts : December 10, 2011 8:07 am

These all sound great. I look forward to part 2.

Posted By Anonymous : December 10, 2011 8:22 am

To Kimberly Lindbergs:
Yes I grew up with those kinda books too….love them….say, Kimberly, I can’t find a pic inside that book that shows a young blond woman with an axe in her head…I think the movie is The Black Cat, but I’m not 100% sure…could you help out??
Thanx in advance:)

Posted By Anonymous : December 10, 2011 8:22 am

To Kimberly Lindbergs:
Yes I grew up with those kinda books too….love them….say, Kimberly, I can’t find a pic inside that book that shows a young blond woman with an axe in her head…I think the movie is The Black Cat, but I’m not 100% sure…could you help out??
Thanx in advance:)

Posted By changeling : December 10, 2011 8:26 am

To Kimberly:
Yes, I grew up with those kinda books too…..my Italian GF doesn’t get why us Anglo-Saxons love horror movies & stories so much……we just grew up with the horror culture…ever since we read Frankenstein and Dracula in school :):):!!!!
Say Kimberly, I can’t find a photo inside Gifford’s book showing a blond young lady with an axe in her head…I think the movie is The Black Cat, but I’m not dead sure about that….could you help out???! Thanx in advance :):)

Posted By changeling : December 10, 2011 8:26 am

To Kimberly:
Yes, I grew up with those kinda books too…..my Italian GF doesn’t get why us Anglo-Saxons love horror movies & stories so much……we just grew up with the horror culture…ever since we read Frankenstein and Dracula in school :):):!!!!
Say Kimberly, I can’t find a photo inside Gifford’s book showing a blond young lady with an axe in her head…I think the movie is The Black Cat, but I’m not dead sure about that….could you help out???! Thanx in advance :):)

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 10, 2011 12:38 pm

Thanks everyone! Glad people are sharing some of their own favorite books and it’s nice to see so many mentions of that Tracy bio. Hopefully the second part of my list will offer a few more reading recommendations.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 10, 2011 12:38 pm

Thanks everyone! Glad people are sharing some of their own favorite books and it’s nice to see so many mentions of that Tracy bio. Hopefully the second part of my list will offer a few more reading recommendations.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 10, 2011 12:38 pm

changeling – I believe the movie you’re thinking of is the THE BLACK CAT from 1966. It was a low budget b/w adaptation of the Poe story directed by Harold Hoffman but it had some pretty convincing gore and a photo from it is in Gifford’s book.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 10, 2011 12:38 pm

changeling – I believe the movie you’re thinking of is the THE BLACK CAT from 1966. It was a low budget b/w adaptation of the Poe story directed by Harold Hoffman but it had some pretty convincing gore and a photo from it is in Gifford’s book.

Posted By changeling : December 10, 2011 12:52 pm

To Kimberly Lindbergs :
Yes, I think that’s the flick Kimberly….since I don’t have a copy of Gifford’s book anymore, I was wondering :):)
THANX:):)

Posted By changeling : December 10, 2011 12:52 pm

To Kimberly Lindbergs :
Yes, I think that’s the flick Kimberly….since I don’t have a copy of Gifford’s book anymore, I was wondering :):)
THANX:):)

Posted By changeling : December 10, 2011 12:53 pm

Looking fwd to part 2 here :):):):):)

Posted By changeling : December 10, 2011 12:53 pm

Looking fwd to part 2 here :):):):):)

Posted By Heidi : December 12, 2011 1:07 pm

I really enjoyed “Goog Stuff” the book from Cary Grant’s daughter. I will add the one from Dyan Cannon to my chhristmas wish list. one of my all time favorites is “Gracie” by George Burns. I loved them both, and the book is reall sweet.
Great topic, and I can’t wait for the 2nd installment.

Posted By Heidi : December 12, 2011 1:07 pm

I really enjoyed “Goog Stuff” the book from Cary Grant’s daughter. I will add the one from Dyan Cannon to my chhristmas wish list. one of my all time favorites is “Gracie” by George Burns. I loved them both, and the book is reall sweet.
Great topic, and I can’t wait for the 2nd installment.

Posted By Jenni : December 14, 2011 11:38 pm

I recently heard an interview with the author of the new biography of Spencer Tracy-fascinating interview, and a book I plan on reading. Thanks for the heads up on the battling Harlow movies-also sounds really interesting. My father in law had an interesting book given to him as a gift that he let me borrow, The Making of the Wizard of Oz, by Aljean Harmetz. It was a very fascinating and interesting look at the making of one of America’s most beloved films.

Posted By Jenni : December 14, 2011 11:38 pm

I recently heard an interview with the author of the new biography of Spencer Tracy-fascinating interview, and a book I plan on reading. Thanks for the heads up on the battling Harlow movies-also sounds really interesting. My father in law had an interesting book given to him as a gift that he let me borrow, The Making of the Wizard of Oz, by Aljean Harmetz. It was a very fascinating and interesting look at the making of one of America’s most beloved films.

Posted By swac : December 15, 2011 10:07 am

I just got my mitts on a copy of the new bio of my favourite director, John Huston: Courage & Art by Jeffrey Meyers. Haven’t dug into it yet, but look forward to reading it when the snow piles high and I’ve got some holiday time off. Meyers has previously written about Ernest Hemingway and Joseph Conrad, so he seems like a good choice to delve into Huston’s life.

Posted By swac : December 15, 2011 10:07 am

I just got my mitts on a copy of the new bio of my favourite director, John Huston: Courage & Art by Jeffrey Meyers. Haven’t dug into it yet, but look forward to reading it when the snow piles high and I’ve got some holiday time off. Meyers has previously written about Ernest Hemingway and Joseph Conrad, so he seems like a good choice to delve into Huston’s life.

Posted By MovieMorlocks.com – Favorite Film Related Books of 2011 (Part II.) : December 15, 2011 3:46 pm

[...] This is the second half of a two part list I’ve compiled featuring my favorite film related books of the year. As I mentioned in my previous post, a surprising number of good books were published in 2011. From lush coffee table gift books to intimate autobiographies, the range of interesting reading material I came across was both surprising and thought provoking so I thought I’d share some of the highlights. You can find the first part of my list posted here: Favorite Film Related Books of 2011 (Part I.) [...]

Posted By MovieMorlocks.com – Favorite Film Related Books of 2011 (Part II.) : December 15, 2011 3:46 pm

[...] This is the second half of a two part list I’ve compiled featuring my favorite film related books of the year. As I mentioned in my previous post, a surprising number of good books were published in 2011. From lush coffee table gift books to intimate autobiographies, the range of interesting reading material I came across was both surprising and thought provoking so I thought I’d share some of the highlights. You can find the first part of my list posted here: Favorite Film Related Books of 2011 (Part I.) [...]

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 15, 2011 7:22 pm

Jenni – I’ll look for that interview. I’d like to listen to it.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 15, 2011 7:22 pm

Jenni – I’ll look for that interview. I’d like to listen to it.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 15, 2011 7:24 pm

swac – Thanks for mentioning that Huston book because I spotted it recently and added it to my “wish list.” Would be curious to know what you thought of it. I love Huston’s autobiography!

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 15, 2011 7:24 pm

swac – Thanks for mentioning that Huston book because I spotted it recently and added it to my “wish list.” Would be curious to know what you thought of it. I love Huston’s autobiography!

Posted By Lori : December 23, 2011 12:53 pm

I cannot WAIT to get my copy of “Mad Monster Party”! Thanks for the info on that one, Kimberly. And Happy Holidays everyone!
**Lori

Posted By Lori : December 23, 2011 12:53 pm

I cannot WAIT to get my copy of “Mad Monster Party”! Thanks for the info on that one, Kimberly. And Happy Holidays everyone!
**Lori

Posted By clockwork : December 23, 2011 1:06 pm

HAVE A MONSTROUDS XMAS EVERYONE:)

Posted By clockwork : December 23, 2011 1:06 pm

HAVE A MONSTROUDS XMAS EVERYONE:)

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