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The Life and Times of Vito Russo
Celluloid Activist is the biography of gay-rights giant Vito Russo, the man who wrote The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies, commonly regarded as the foundational text of gay and lesbian film studies and one of the first to be widely read.
But Russo was much more than a pioneering journalist and author. A founding member of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and cofounder of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), Russo lived at the center of the most important gay cultural turning points in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. His life as a cultural Zelig intersects a crucial period of social change, and in some ways his story becomes the story of a developing gay revolution in America. A frequent participant at “zaps” and an organizer of Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) cabarets and dances—which gave the New York gay and lesbian community its first social alternative to Mafia-owned bars—Russo made his most enduring contribution to the GAA with his marshaling of “Movie Nights,” the forerunners to his worldwide Celluloid Closet lecture tours that gave gay audiences their first community forum for the dissection of gay imagery in mainstream film.
In eleven feature films across two decades, Christian Petzold has established himself as the most critically celebrated director in contemporary Germany. The best-known and most influential member of the Berlin School, Petzold's career reflects the trajectory of German film from 1970s New German Cinema to more popular fare in the 1990s and back again to critically engaged and politically committed filmmaking. His combination of critical celebration and popular success underscores Petzold's singular cinematic achievement: the deliberate and shrewd negotiation of art cinema and popular Hollywood genre.
Sergei Parajanov (1924–90) flouted the rules of both filmmaking and society in the Soviet Union and paid a heavy personal price. An ethnic Armenian in the multicultural atmosphere of Tbilisi, Georgia, he was one of the most innovative directors of postwar Soviet cinema. Parajanov succeeded in creating a small but marvelous body of work whose style embraces such diverse influences as folk art, medieval miniature painting, early cinema, Russian and European art films, surrealism, and Armenian, Georgian, and Ukrainian cultural motifs.
A Conversation with Thirty-nine Filmmakers from around the World
In Cinema Today, Elena Oumano has ingeniously crafted a conversation from her personal and individual interviews with a distinguished group of international cinema legends. She follows a lively symposium-in-print format, with the filmmakers' words and thoughts grouped together under various key cinema topics. Collectively these artists reflect on and explore issues and concerns of modern filmmaking, from the practical to the aesthetic, including the process, cinematic rhythm and structure, and the many aspects of the media: business, the viewer, and cinema's place in society.
An Actor's Voice
Late in Claude Rains’s distinguished career, a reverent film journalist wrote that Rains “was as much a cinematic institution as the medium itself.” Given his childhood speech impediments and his origins in a destitute London neighborhood, the ascent of Claude Rains (1889–1967) to the stage and screen is remarkable. Rains’s difficulties in his formative years provided reserves of gravitas and sensitivity, from which he drew inspiration for acclaimed performances in The Invisible Man (1933), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Casablanca (1942), Notorious (1946), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), and other classic films. In Claude Rains: An Actor’s Voice, noted Hollywood historian David J. Skal draws on more than thirty hours of newly released Rains interviews to create the first full-length biography of the actor who was nominated multiple times for an Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor. Skal’s portrait of the gifted actor also benefits from the insights of Jessica Rains, who provides firsthand accounts of the enigmatic man behind her father’s refined screen presence and genteel public persona. As Skal shows, numerous contradictions informed the life and career of Claude Rains. He possessed an air of nobility and became an emblem of sophistication, but he never shed the insecurities that traced back to his upbringing in an abusive and poverty-stricken family. Though deeply self-conscious about his short stature, Rains drew notorious ardor from female fans and was married six times. His public displays of dry wit and good humor masked inner demons that drove Rains to alcoholism and its devastating consequences. Skal’s layered depiction of Claude Rains reveals a complex, almost inscrutable man whose nuanced characterizations were, in no small way, based on the more shadowy parts of his psyche. With unprecedented access to episodes from Rains’s private life, Skal tells the full story of the consummate character actor of his generation. Claude Rains: An Actor’s Voice, gives voice to the struggles and innermost concerns that influenced Rains’s performances and helped him become a universally respected Hollywood legend.
She Walked in Beauty
Claudette Colbert's mixture of beauty, sophistication, wit, and vivacity quickly made her one of the film industry's most famous and highest-paid stars of the 1930s and 1940s. Though she began her career on the New York stage, she was beloved for her roles in such films as Preston Sturges's The Palm Beach Story, Cecil B. DeMille's Cleopatra, and Frank Capra's It Happened One Night, for which she won an Academy Award. She showed remarkable prescience by becoming one of the first Hollywood stars to embrace television, and she also returned to Broadway in her later career. This is the first major biography of Colbert (1903-1996) published in over twenty years. Bernard F. Dick chronicles Colbert's long career, but also explores her early life in Paris and New York. Along with discussing how she left her mark on Broadway, Hollywood, radio, and television, the book explores Colbert's lifelong interests in painting, fashion design, and commercial art. Using correspondence, interviews, periodicals, film archives, and other research materials, the biography reveals a smart, talented actress who conquered Hollywood and remains one of America's most captivating screen icons. Bernard F. Dick is professor of communication and English at Fairleigh Dickinson University and is the author of Hal Wallis: Producer to the Stars; Engulfed: The Death of Paramount Pictures and the Birth of Corporate Hollywood; Forever Mame: The Life of Rosalind Russell (University Press of Mississippi); and other books.
Interviews, Revised and Updated
Clint Eastwood (b. 1930) is the only popular American dramatic star to have shaped his own career almost entirely through films of his own producing, frequently under his own direction; no other dramatic star has directed himself so often. He is also one of the most prolific active directors, with thirty-three features to his credit since 1971.As a star, he is often recalled primarily for two early roles--the "Man with No Name" of three European-made Westerns, and the uncompromising cop "Dirty" Harry Callahan. But on his own as a director, Eastwood has steered a remarkable course. A film industry insider who works through the established Hollywood system and respects its traditions, he remains an outsider by steadfastly refusing to heed cultural and aesthetic trends in film production and film style. His films as director have examined an eclectic variety of themes, ranging from the artist's life to the nature of heroism, while frequently calling into question the ethos of masculinity and his own star image. Yet they have remained accessible to a popular audience worldwide. With two Best Director and two Best Picture Oscars to his credit, Eastwood now ranks among the most highly honored living filmmakers.These interviews range over the more than four decades of Eastwood's directorial career, with an emphasis on practical filmmaking issues and his philosophy as a filmmaker. Nearly a third are from European sources--several appearing here in English for the first time.
Refuting virtually every previous account of the founding and development of the American motion picture industry, this entertaining biography pays tribute to a pioneer whose many innovations helped to create Hollywood as we know it today.
Conversations with Steve Martin presents a collection of interviews and profiles that focus on Martin as a writer, artist, and original thinker over the course of more than four decades in show business. While those less familiar with his full body of work may think of Martin as primarily the “wild and crazy guy” with an arrow through his head, this book makes the case that he is in fact one of our nation’s most accomplished and varied artists. It shows the full range of Martin’s creative work, tracing the source of his comic imagination from his early standup days, starting in the mid to late 1960s through the films he has written and starred in, and emphasizing his more recent creative outpourings as playwright, essayist, novelist, memoirist, songwriter, composer, musician, and art critic.
“Standup is the hardest material in the world to write for someone else; it’s like trying to condense 10 years of experience into 20 minutes of new material.,” Martin says. But commenting on his fiction writing, he says. “I think you have to be able to find as a writer that state where you don’t know what you’re going to say or what the character is going to say or who the characters are. That’s the biggest thrill of all. When you start to trust that subconscious thing and you don’t censor yourself—just remember you can always throw it away—that’s when the good stuff comes out.”
The selected materials consist not only of pieces focused primarily on Martin’s writings, but also broader profiles and conversations that help explain Martin’s development as a writer within the larger context of his many other accomplishments, talents, and performance skills.
From Olympic Gold to the Silver Screen
Dean Smith has taken falls from galloping horses, engaged in fistfights with Kirk Douglas and George C. Scott, donned red wig and white tights to double Maureen O’Hara, and taught Goldie Hawn how to talk like a Texan.
He’s dangled from a helicopter over the skyscrapers of Manhattan while clutching a damsel in distress, hung upside down from a fake blimp 200 feet over the Orange Bowl, and replicated one of the most famous scenes in movie history by climbing on a thundering team of horses to stop a runaway stagecoach.
Cowboy Stuntman chronicles the life and achievements of this colorful Texan and Olympic gold medal winner who spent a half century as a Hollywood stuntman and actor, appearing in ten John Wayne movies and doubling for a long list of actors as diverse as Robert Culp, Michael Landon, Steve Martin, Strother Martin, Robert Redford, and Roy Rogers.