Posted by Kimberly Lindbergs on December 15, 2011
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.)
I know what you’re thinking. Do we really need another book about Steve McQueen? It seems like every year some publisher releases one more book about this iconic American actor. In 2011 two books about McQueen were published that I’m aware of but believe me when I tell you that this is the one worth picking up. Steve McQueen: The Actor and His Films is one of best books about McQueen that I’ve ever come across. It was written by Andrew Antoniades, a life-long Steve McQueen fan who collects rare McQueen memorabilia and Mike Siegal, a film historian and director who has made many German documentaries including PASSION & POETRY: THE BALLAD OF SAM PECKINPAH (2005). Both men are obviously familiar with their subject and their appreciation for McQueen’s work is plainly evident. The book is beautifully put together and features an overview of the actor’s life and career followed by detailed write-ups on every one of the movies McQueen appeared in accompanied by rare photos and publicity materials. Steve McQueen: The Actor and His Films is a great reference book that should appeal to longtime McQueen fans who’ll be surprised by the wealth of new material it contains as well as anyone who’s eager to know more about this enigmatic actor. You can currently purchase the book from amazon.com or directly from the publisher daltonwatson.com.
In Luck and Circumstance: A Coming of Age in Hollywood, author Michael Lindsay-Hogg chronicles his fascinating life as the son of an Oscar nominated actress (Geraldine Fitzgerald) who becomes an acclaimed director in his own right after making celebrated music documentaries like THE ROLLING STONES ROCK AND ROLL CIRCUS (1968/1996) and The Beatles film LET IT BE (1970) as well as the award-wining British television program BRIDESHEAD REVISITED (1981). His memories of mixing and mingling with famous Hollywood celebrities and iconic music figures are memorable but the book deviates from typical memoirs when the author tries to uncover the truth about his father, who just might be the world renowned film director Orson Welles. Luck and Circumstance: A Coming of Age in Hollywood is part autobiography and part mystery, which is why I found it so intriguing. Whatever you may think about the outcome, you definitely won’t forget Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s rather touching personal story of a man growing-up in exceptional circumstances while desperately looking for a father figure that may or may not exist. You can purchase the book at amazon.com.
This richly illustrated coffee table book records the history of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s numerous soundstages and sets. Authors Steve Bingen and Michael Troyan have both worked as studio archivists, while Stephen X. Sylvestor’s collection of studio artifacts and fascination with MGM backlots informs every page. The vast assortment of rare and fascinating materials included in the book document the various departments, buildings, backstreets and mythical places that helped define so many of MGM’s most acclaimed films such as THE WIZARD OF OZ, SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, NATIONAL VELVET and BEN-HUR as well as cult favorites like HOT RODS TO HELL and SOYLENT GREEN. MGM: Hollywood’s Greatest Backlots contains something of interest for just about every classic movie enthusiast. And if you happen to be as fascinated with film locations as I am or want to learn more about MGM’s lasting legacy you’ll definitely want to take a peak at this remarkable book, which you can currently preview at amazon.com.
As a longtime resident of the San Francisco Bay Area and a lifelong fan of classic horror films, Shock It To Me: Golden Ghouls of the Golden Gate holds a special place on my list of ‘Favorite Film Related Books of 2011.’ This nice looking publication chronicles the fascinating history of Bay Area horror film programs that began in 1957 after Universal Studios opened its vaults and allowed many of their best and worst horror movies to be aired on television. When local stations tried to figure out an entertaining way to present these films the ‘horror hosts’ were born. These funny, smart, eccentric and engaging characters raised generations of ‘monster kids’ just like myself. Shock It To Me: Golden Ghouls of the Golden Gate celebrates the careers of local horror hosts like Frank “Asmodeus” Sheridan who hosted SHOCK THEATRE in the sixties and Bob Wilkins who hosted CREATURE FEATURES in the seventies but it also includes more recent additions such as Balrok and No Name who currently host CREEPY KOFY MOVIE TIME. If you’re interested in the history of Bay Area television or just curious about the enduring legacy of horror film hosts, I highly recommend picking up a copy of the book. It’s full of fun facts as well as great photos, television schedules and program advertisements. Shock It To Me: Golden Ghouls of the Golden Gate can be purchased directly from the UHF Nocturne site at uhfnocturne.com.
The title of the book is a throwback to an era when terms like “sex kitten” were considered complimentary but don’t let the dated jargon fool you. The actresses spotlighted in Cinema Sex Sirens are both beautiful and talented. And many had a certain je ne sais quoi, which made them incredibly alluring to both men and women. Authors Lee Pfeiffer & Dave Worrall are the creative minds behind the film magazine Cinema Retro, which celebrates films from the ‘60s and ‘70s. They definitely know their subject matter well and they have a great eye for imagery. The book collects an array of stunning material about many famous (Raquel Welch, Natalie Wood, Sophia Loren, Elke Sommer, etc.) and lesser-known (Barbara Steele, Valerie Leon, Senta Berger, Caroline Munro, etc.) actresses. You’ll also find chapters devoted to subjects like The Russ Meyer Ladies, Drive-In Gals and The Women of Blaxploitation. As the title suggests, the book is geared towards adults and includes nudity but it’s never vulgar. Cinema Sex Sirens recalls another era populated by swinging bachelor pads and go-go clubs. If you appreciate the starlets who made ‘60s and ‘70s era films so fun to watch you should enjoy this book, which can currently be purchased at amazon.com or directly from the Cinema Retro site cinemaretro.com.
The Hammer Vault: Treasures From the Archives of Hammer Films (Titan Books)
Next week I’ll be posting an interview I conducted with The Hammer Vault: Treasures From the Archives of Hammer Films author, Marcus Hearn. So if you’d like to know more about the book or if you’re just curious about Hammer horror films in general, please come back next Thursday and give it a look!
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