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The Films of Marie Dressler
In this study of Marie Dressler, MGM's most profitable movie star in the early 1930s, Victoria Sturtevant analyzes Dressler's use of her body to challenge Hollywood's standards for leading ladies. At five feet seven inches tall and two hundred pounds, Dressler often played ugly ducklings, old maids, doting mothers, and imperious dowagers. However, her body, her fearless physicality, and her athletic slapstick routines commanded the screen. Sturtevant interprets the meanings of Dressler's body by looking at her vaudeville career, her transgressive representation of an "unruly" yet sexual body in Emma and Christopher Bean, ideas of the body politic in the films Politics and Prosperity, and Dressler as a mythic body in Min and Bill and Tugboat Annie.
The Most Beautiful Woman in Film
Hedy Lamarr’s life was punctuated by salacious rumors and public scandal, but it was her stunning looks and classic Hollywood glamour that continuously captivated audiences. Born Hedwig Kiesler, she escaped an unhappy marriage with arms dealer Fritz Mandl in Austria to try her luck in Hollywood, where her striking appearance made her a screen legend. Her notorious nude role in the erotic Czech film Ecstasy (1933), as well as her work with Cecil B. DeMille (Samson and Delilah, 1949), Walter Wanger (Algiers, 1938), and studio executive Louis B. Mayer catapulted her alluring and provocative reputation as a high-profile sex symbol. In Hedy Lamarr: The Most Beautiful Woman in Film, Ruth Barton explores the many facets of the screen legend, including her life as an inventor. Working with avant-garde composer and film scorer George Antheil, Lamarr helped to develop and patent spread spectrum technology, which is still used in mobile phone communication. However, despite her screen persona and scientific success, Lamarr’s personal life caused quite a scandal. A string of failed marriages, a lawsuit against her publisher regarding her sensational autobiography, and shoplifting charges made her infamous beyond her celebrity. Drawing on extensive research into both the recorded truths of Lamarr’s life and the rumors that made her notorious, Barton recognizes Lamarr’s contributions to both film and technology while revealing the controversial and conflicted woman underneath. Hedy Lamarr: The Most Beautiful Woman in Film illuminates the life of a classic Hollywood icon.
Originally published in 1977 and long out of print, Maurice Yacowar’s Hitchcock’s British Films was the first volume devoted solely to the twenty-three films directed by Alfred Hitchcock in his native England before he came to the United States. As such, it was the first book to challenge the assumption that Hitchcock’s “mature” period in Hollywood, from the late 1940s to the early 1960s, represented the director’s best work. In this traditional auteurist examination of Hitchcock’s early work, author Maurice Yacowar considers Hitchcock’s British films in chronological order, reads the composition of individual shots and scenes in each, and pays special attention to the films’ verbal effects. Yacowar’s readings remain compelling more than thirty years after they were written, and some—on Downhill, Champagne, and Waltzes from Vienna—are among the few extended interpretations of these films that exist. Alongside important works such as Murder!, the first The Man Who Knew Too Much, Secret Agent, The Lady Vanishes, and Blackmail, readers will appreciate Yacowar’s equal attention to lesser-known films like The Pleasure Garden, The Ring, and The Manxman. Yacowar dissects Hitchcock’s precise staging and technical production to draw out ethical themes and metaphysical meanings of each film, while keeping a close eye on the source material, such as novels and plays, that Hitchcock used as the inspiration for many of his screenplays. Yacowar concludes with an overview of Hitchcock as auteur and an appendix identifying the director’s appearances in these films. A foreword by Barry Keith Grant and a preface to the second edition from Yacowar complete this comprehensive volume. Anyone interested in Hitchcock, classic British cinema, or the history of film will appreciate Yacowar’s accessible and often witty exploration of the director’s early work.
Dana Andrews (1909-1992) worked with distinguished directors such as John Ford, Lewis Milestone, Otto Preminger, Fritz Lang, William Wyler, William A. Wellman, Mervyn Le Roy, Jean Renoir, and Elia Kazan. He played romantic leads alongside the great beauties of the modern screen, including Joan Crawford, Elizabeth Taylor, Greer Garson, Merle Oberon, Linda Darnell, Susan Hayward, Maureen O'Hara, and most important of all, Gene Tierney, with whom he did five films. Retrospectives of his work often elicit high praise for an underrated actor, a master of the minimalist style. His image personified the "male mask" of the 1940s in classic films such as Laura, Fallen Angel, and Where the Sidewalk Ends, in which he played the "masculine ideal of steely impassivity." No comprehensive discussion of film noir can neglect his performances. He was an "actor's actor."
Here at last is the complete story of a great actor, his difficult struggle to overcome alcoholism while enjoying the accolades of his contemporaries, a successful term as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and the love of family and friends that never deserted him. Based on diaries, letters, home movies, and other documents, this biography explores the mystery of a poor boy from Texas who made his Hollywood dream come true even as he sought a life apart from the limelight and the backbiting of contemporaries jockeying for prizes and prestige. Called "one of nature's noblemen" by his fellow actor Norman Lloyd, Dana Andrews emerges from Hollywood Enigma as an admirable American success story, fighting his inner demons and ultimately winning.
Loretta Young (1913-2000) was an Academy Award-winning actress known for devout Catholicism and her performances in The Farmer's Daughter, The Bishop's Wife, and Come to the Stable, and for her long-running and tremendously popular television series. But that was not the whole story.
Hollywood Madonna explores the full saga of Loretta Young's professional and personal life. She made her film debut at age four, became a star at fifteen, and many awards and accolades later, made her final television movie at age seventy-six. This biography withholds none of the details of her affair with Clark Gable and the daughter that powerful love produced. Bernard F. Dick places Young's affair in the proper context of the time and the choices available to women in 1935, especially a noted Catholic like Young, whose career would have been in ruins if the public knew of her tryst. With the birth of a daughter, who would have been branded a love child, Loretta Young reached the crossroads of disclosure and deception, choosing the latter path. That choice resulted in an illustrious career for her and a tortured childhood for her daughter.
And Other Misadventures of a Hollywood Writer-Producer
In the early 1950s writers were leaving radio en masse to try their hand at another promising medium—television. William Froug was in the thick of that exodus, a young man full of ideas in a Hollywood bursting with opportunities. In his forty-year career Froug would write and/or produce many of the shows that America has grown up with. From the drama of Playhouse 90 and the mind-bending premises of The Twilight Zone to the escapist scenarios of Adventures in Paradise, Gilligan’s Island, Bewitched, and Charlie’s Angels, Froug played a role in shaping his trade. He crossed paths with some of the memorable personalities in the industry, including Jack Benny, Lucille Ball, Agnes Moorehead, Elizabeth Montgomery, Robert Blake, Rod Serling, Gene Roddenberry, Aaron Spelling, and Sherwood Schwartz.
Froug reveals a post-WWII America giddy with the success of its newest medium—yet sobered at moments by strikes and union politics, McCarthyism and anti-Semitism. It was a world of hastily written scripts, sudden firings, thwarted creativity, and fickle tastes. And yet, while clearly exasperated with many aspects of Hollywood, Froug was a man utterly in his element, his frustration with the industry ultimately eclipsed by his dedication to his craft.
Prolific director Howard Hawks made films in nearly every genre, from gangster movies like Scarface to comedies like Bringing Up Baby and Monkey Business and westerns like Rio Bravo. In this new edition of a classic text, author Robin Wood explores the ways in which Hawks pushed the boundaries of each genre and transformed the traditional forms in new, interesting, and creative ways. This reprint also contains an exciting new introduction by Wood, which shows how his thinking about Hawks has deepened over time without fundamentally changing. Since its original publication in 1972, Wood's Howard Hawks has set the terms for virtually all subsequent discussions of the director. The provocative chapters demonstrate the ways in which Hawks's films were affected by the director's personality and way of looking at and feeling things, and by his celebration of instinct, self-respect, group responsibility, and male camaraderie. Wood's connections between the professionalism of Hawks's action films and comedies, with their “lure of irresponsibility,” has become a standard way of conceptualizing Hawks's films and the model to which all later critical work has had to respond. This book remains as contemporary as when it was first released, although it is grounded in the auteur period of its publication. Robin Wood has stubbornly resisted the trends of academic film studies and in so doing has remained one of its most influential voices. Certain to be of interest to film scholars and students, this book will also be particularly useful as a text for university courses on Hawks, popular cinema, and authorship in film.
This is a moving, star-filled account of one of Hollywood’s true golden ages as told by a man in the middle of it all. Walter Mirisch’s company has produced some of the most entertaining and enduring classics in film history, including West Side Story, Some Like It Hot, In the Heat of the Night, and The Magnificent Seven. His work has led to 87 Academy Award nominations and 28 Oscars. Richly illustrated with rare photographs from his personal collection, I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History reveals Mirisch’s own experience of Hollywood and tells the stories of the stars—emerging and established—who appeared in his films, including Natalie Wood, John Wayne, Peter Sellers, Sidney Poitier, Steve McQueen, Marilyn Monroe, and many others.
With hard-won insight and gentle humor, Mirisch recounts how he witnessed the end of the studio system, the development of independent production, and the rise and fall of some of Hollywood’s most gifted (and notorious) cultural icons. A producer with a passion for creative excellence, he offers insights into his innovative filmmaking process, revealing a rare ingenuity for placating the demands of auteur directors, weak-kneed studio executives, and troubled screen sirens.
From his early start as a movie theater usher to the presentation of such masterpieces as The Apartment, Fiddler on the Roof, and The Great Escape, Mirisch tells the inspiring life story of his climb to the highest echelon of the American film industry. This book assures Mirisch’s legacy—as Elmore Leonard puts it—as “one of the good guys.”
Best Books for Special Interests, selected by the American Association of School Librarians, and Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the Public Library Association
The Life of John Jacob Niles
Louisville native John Jacob Niles (1892–1980) is considered to be one of our nation’s most influential musicians. As a composer and balladeer, Niles drew inspiration from the deep well of traditional Appalachian and African American folk songs. At the age of sixteen Niles wrote one of his most enduring tunes, “Go ’Way from My Window,” basing it on a song fragment from a black farm worker. This iconic song has been performed by folk artists ever since and may even have inspired the opening line of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe.” In I Wonder as I Wander: The Life of John Jacob Niles, the first full-length biography of Niles, Ron Pen offers a rich portrait of the musician’s character and career. Using Niles’s own accounts from his journals, notebooks, and unpublished autobiography, Pen tracks his rise from farm boy to songwriter and folk collector extraordinaire. Niles was especially interested in documenting the voices of his fellow World War I soldiers, the people of Appalachia, and the spirituals of African Americans. In the 1920s he collaborated with noted photographer Doris Ulmann during trips to Appalachia, where he transcribed, adapted, and arranged traditional songs and ballads such as “Pretty Polly” and “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair.” Niles’s preservation and presentation of American folk songs earned him the title of “Dean of American Balladeers,” and his theatrical use of the dulcimer is credited with contributing to the popularity of that instrument today. Niles’s dedication to the folk music tradition lives on in generations of folk revival artists such as Jean Ritchie, Joan Baez, and Oscar Brand. I Wonder as I Wander explores the origins and influences of the American folk music resurgence of the 1950s and 1960s, and finally tells the story of a man at the forefront of that movement.
A Biographer’s Memoir