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Author Topic: All other movie books....  (Read 1018 times)
drinkanddestroy
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« on: October 03, 2012, 01:09:38 PM »

I'm always interested in good books about movies, whether a biography of a movie star, or a book that discusses a period or genre in cinema history, etc. But there's so much stuff to wade through, numerous biographies about Bogie and Cagney and Wayne, etc.  and I'd much rather have someone recommend eg. which is the best Cagney bio rather than reading 5 of them.

We already have threads on Western books, and there is the Film Noir Discussion Thread for noir, and the "last book you read thread," but of course there are so many other categories of movie books. So this is the thread for all those others: If there is a good book about movies you can recommend, or a bad one you want to discourage, or if you have a question about one, this is the place for it  Smiley

I'll start with this question: I'm looking for recommendations of biographies of some of the Golden Age movie stars, to start with, let's say Bogie, Cagney, Wayne, and Fonda. There must be dozens of bios written on each of them, so can anyone recommend any really good ones? Thanks!

« Last Edit: August 13, 2017, 10:46:10 PM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2012, 01:22:10 PM »

Michael Munn's John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth is worshipful but worth reading. Lots of good interviews with his friends, family and co-stars and the Duke himself. Munn does make a few questionable arguments (eg. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance being show in B&W for budget rather than style) but it's generally worthwhile.

I'm generally not interested in actor bios though, because they usually obsess over scandal and personal matters.

As for director bios I could recommend:

David Lean: A Biography - Kevin Brownlow

If They Move, Kill 'Em: The Life and Times of Sam Peckinpah - David Weddle

Searching for John Ford - Joseph McBride

Donald Spoto's various Hitchcock books

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« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2012, 11:49:01 PM »

What comes to director bios, I can recommend:

-Lynch on Lynch, by Chris Rodley
-Herzog on Herzog, by Paul Cronin
 
Scorsese on Scorsese by David Thompson is also worth a read but not as compelling. The greatness of the Lynch and Herzog books is that they are transcripted interviews and their subjects are totally quotable.

Of course it goes without saying that Truffaut's Hitchcock book is an essential read.

Ingmar Bergman's Laterna magica is one hell of a book. An autobiography, traveling back and forth in time. I believe you could enjoy it even if you had never heard of Bergman.

Werner Herzog's Of Walking in Ice is a diary of his three-week journey from Munich to Paris on foot. It's not a movie book really but a must read if you like Herzog's films.
 
Sidney Lumet's Making Movies is an excellent account (probably the best of its kind) on the whole process of making a film. Lots of interesting anecdotes and examples. Published in 1996, only the parts regarding film processing and such are dated.

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« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2012, 11:54:29 PM »


I'm generally not interested in actor bios though, because they usually obsess over scandal and personal matters.


I am definitely more interested in the books that focus on the actor's movies, rather than on who he slept with.



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« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2012, 06:19:57 AM »

Somehow I forgot Truffaut's Hitchcock book. What kind of cinephile am I?  Undecided

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« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2012, 05:07:41 PM »

Yeah, I am definitely going to check out the Hitchcock/Truffaut book, but first I want to wait until I have seen more of Hitch's movies.

Below, I will list the 10 Hitch movies I've seen. If you can let me know which others are discussed extensively in the book -- I'll be sure to watch those next, and then get the book -- I'd be mighty appreciative  Afro

Rebecca (1940)
Rope (1948)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Dial M for Murder (1954)
Rear Window (1954)
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
The Wrong Man (1956)
Vertigo (1958)
North by Northwest (1959)
Psycho (1960)





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« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2012, 02:10:46 AM »

Every of his films is discussed in the book. Of course some a bit more extensive then others. The films we had already recommended are surely all on the more extensive side.

But as I already said you can buy the book every time, and you can read it completely at every time, or you can read only the parts about the films you have seen so far.


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« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2017, 10:51:27 PM »

Just saw this book review in The Wall Street Journal

https://www.wsj.com/articles/daphne-du-maurier-in-her-prime-1500060961

The book is Manderlay Forever: A Biography of Daphne du Maurier, by Tatiana de Rosnay. Here is the book on Amazon https://goo.gl/pSSNJK

The book review is by Allan Massie:


Tatiana de Rosnay tells us that, at the age of 11, when she first opened a copy of “Rebecca,” she “had no idea how important that novel would become in my life.” We may believe her, but its author, Daphne du Maurier, might have bridled. Just as Conan Doyle came to resent Sherlock Holmes because he overshadowed the historical novels that Doyle valued more highly, so it irritated du Maurier to be known principally for “Rebecca,” which was made into what is now a classic film by Alfred Hitchcock.

But Ms. de Rosnay is right to highlight that best-selling 1938 novel. It made du Maurier famous. If other du Maurier novels are still read—for instance, “Jamaica Inn” and “My Cousin Rachel,” if not, alas, “The Progress of Julius,” a remarkably harsh, chilling unromantic early book—it is because of “Rebecca.” It may be derivative, a reworking of “Jane Eyre” with a sub-Byronic hero and a fascinating and mysteriously dead first wife replacing a mad one in the attic. It may be full of clichés. It doesn’t matter. The novel is still compellingly alive.

Daphne du Maurier was born in 1907, in London, into the upper reaches of bohemia. Her grandfather George was an artist and the author of the best-selling novel “Trilby” (known best for the character Svengali). Her father, Gerald, with whom she had an intense, perhaps unhealthily intense, relationship, was a star of the London theater. Her cousins, the Llewelyn-Davies boys, inspired J.M. Barrie to write “Peter Pan.”

There was something of Peter in Daphne. As a young girl she wanted to be a boy and invented for herself an alter ego called Eric Avon. The boy never quite died in her.

She was educated partly in France, her paternal ancestors’ country. There she fell in love with a schoolmistress who encouraged her writing. Later she would have intense emotional friendships with other women, notably the actress Gertrude Lawrence and Ellen Doubleday, the wife of her American publisher. In the course of writing to Doubleday, Ms. de Rosnay says, du Maurier “admits what she thinks she is: a strange hybrid, a woman with the soul of a boy.”

Her marriage to an army officer—Tommy Browning, who commanded airborne troops at Arnhem in World War II and later became a member of the royal household as Prince Philip’s comptroller and treasurer—was sometimes difficult and stormy, partly because she was a writer first and a wife second, partly because he suffered from nervous exhaustion after the war and was unfaithful to her. But the marriage endured, with affection—and guilt—on both sides.

Du Maurier developed a passion for Cornwall, the westernmost county of England, where she had set “Rebecca.” There, she wrote, she found “freedom to write, to walk, to wander, freedom to climb hills, to pull a boat, to be alone.” She took a house, “Menabilly,” on a long lease: her version, perhaps, of Manderley, the grand house of Rebecca and Max de Winter.

As she grew older, she wrote fewer novels and worse ones. The Economist’s reviewer of her last one, “Rule, Britannia” (1972), reproached her, in Ms. de Rosnay’s summary, “for having isolated herself to the extent that she no longer has any idea what the modern world is like.” This is common enough, as other aging novelists may ruefully confess. But it wasn’t that her power of imagination had withered. In her later years, she wrote chilling short stories, such as “Don’t Look Now”—set in a disturbingly sinister Venice and filmed memorably by Nicolas Roeg —but she was no longer capable of the sustained creative effort demanded by a novel. Du Maurier died in 1989, in Cornwall, at the age of 81.

Ms. de Rosnay identifies herself with her subject to such an extent that she will tell us how Daphne felt and what she thought, often perhaps fancifully: “From time to time, she gets up from her desk . . . stretches her numb legs, massages her stiffened fingers. Standing up, leaning against the window, she smokes a cigarette and looks out towards the slim blue line of the sea, lost in her thoughts.”

Well, perhaps. “Manderley Forever” is written in the historic present, often irritating in a novel, more so in a biography, for it is not always clear how much credence is to be given to the author’s imaginative reconstruction of moods and daily life. Perhaps the historic present works less offensively in the original French (translated here into English by Sam Taylor ).

As it is, Ms. de Rosnay has written a biography that, despite such annoyances, does justice to its heroine. Daphne du Maurier, as we see, was fortunate in her family and its history, fortunate also to have early found a publisher, Victor Gollancz, who spotted her potential and treated her generously. She was self-centered, though no more than most writers, and more generous than most of them too. Her best novels were possessed of a vitality and conviction that give them an enduring appeal. “Rebecca” certainly, a couple of others too, have proved to be that rare thing: a best seller that goes on being read long after its author’s death.


---Mr. Massie is the author of many novels, most recently, “End Games in Bordeaux.”

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