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Film, Theater, and Performing Arts > Individual Performers and Directors

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Escape Artist Cover

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Escape Artist

The Life and Films of John Sturges

Glenn Lovell

Escape Artist—based on Glenn Lovell’s extensive interviews with John Sturges, his wife and children, and numerous stars including Clint Eastwood, Robert Duvall, and Jane Russell—is the first biography of the director of such acclaimed films as The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, and Bad Day at Black Rock. Lovell examines Sturges’s childhood in California during the Great Depression; his apprenticeship in the editing department of RKO Pictures, where he worked on such films as Gunga Din and Of Human Bondage; his service in the Army Air Corps in World War II; and his emergence as one of the first independent producer-directors in Hollywood.
Chronicling the filmmaker’s relationships with such luminaries as Spencer Tracy, James Garner, Yul Brynner, and Frank Sinatra, Escape Artist interweaves biography with critical analyses of Sturges’s hits and misses. Along the way, Lovell addresses the reasons why Sturges has been overlooked in the ongoing discussion of postwar Hollywood and explores the director’s focus on masculinity, machismo, and male-bonding in big-budget, ensemble action films. Lovell also examines Sturges’s aesthetic sensibility, his talent for composing widescreen images, and his uncanny ability to judge raw talent—including that of Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, and James Coburn, all of whom began their careers in Sturges’s movies.
            This long overdue study of a major Hollywood director will find a welcome home in the libraries of film scholars, action movie buffs, and anyone interested in the popular culture of the twentieth century.

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

"Pick up a copy of film critic and scholar Glenn Lovell's terrific new Sturges biography, Escape Artist. . . . I can't urge you enough to check out this interview-rich, aesthetically and culturally perceptive look at the filmmaker and his work."—Bob Strauss, Los Angeles Daily News

“Lovell’s list of interviewees reads like a who’s who of Hollywood and they obviously provided rich source material for this full-scale biography and career survey.”— Leonard Maltin

“This long overdue study of a major Hollywood director will find a welcome home in the libraries of film scholars, action movie buffs, and anyone interested in the popular culture of the twentieth century.”—Turner Classic Movies (TCM.com)
 

 

Fernando Alonso Cover

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Fernando Alonso

The Father of Cuban Ballet

Toba Singer

Written records of Alonso’s work are scarce, yet Toba Singer’s quest to spotlight his seminal role in the development of the modern ballet canon yields key material: pre-blockade tapes from Lincoln Center, Spanish-language sources from the Museum of Dance in Havana, and interviews with the ballet master himself alongside a broad range of friends, relatives, and collaborators from throughout his long career, including his ex-wife, Alicia, a famous ballerina in her own right.

The Films of Hal Ashby Cover

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The Films of Hal Ashby

By Christopher Beach

Analyzes the films and filmmaking career of director Hal Ashby, placing his work in the cultural context of filmmaking in the 1970s.

Finding the Jewish Shakespeare Cover

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Finding the Jewish Shakespeare

The Life and Legacy of Jacob Godin

by Beth Kaplan

An illluminating inside look at the life and times of playwright and author Jacob Gordin, a central presence in the Golden Age of Yiddish theater

Forever Mame Cover

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Forever Mame

The Life of Rosalind Russell

When it comes to living life to its fullest, Rosalind Russell's character Auntie Mame is still the silver screen's exemplar. And Mame, the role Russell (1907-1976) would always be remembered for, embodies the rich and rewarding life Bernard F. Dick reveals in the first biography of this Golden Age star, Forever Mame: The Life of Rosalind Russell. Drawing on personal interviews and information from the archives of Russell and her producer-husband Frederick Brisson, Dick begins with Russell's childhood in Waterbury, Connecticut, and chronicles her early attempts to achieve recognition after graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Frustrated by her inability to land a lead in a Broadway show, she headed for Hollywood in 1934 and two years later played her first starring role, the title character in Craig's Wife. Dick discusses all of her films along with her triumphal return to Broadway, first in the musical Wonderful Town and later in Auntie Mame. Forever Mame details Russell's social circle of such stars as Loretta Young, Cary Grant, and Frank Sinatra. It traces an extraordinary career, ending with Russell's courageous battle against the two diseases that eventually caused her death: rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. Russell devoted her last years to campaigning for arthritis research. So successful was she in her efforts to alert lawmakers to this crippling disease that a leading San Francisco research center is named after her. Bernard F. Dick is a 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 Picturesand the Birth of Corporate Hollywood , and other books.

Four Years in Europe with Buffalo Bill Cover

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Four Years in Europe with Buffalo Bill

Charles Eldridge Griffin, Edited and with an introduction by Chris Dixon

William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody was the entertainment industry’s first international celebrity, achieving worldwide stardom with his traveling Wild West show. For three decades he operated and appeared in various incarnations of “the western world’s greatest traveling attraction,” enthralling audiences around the globe. When the show reached Europe it was a sensation, igniting “Wild West fever” by offering what purported to be a genuine experience of the American frontier. By any standard Charles Eldridge Griffin (1859–1914), manager of the Wild West’s European tour, was a remarkable man. Known by the stage names of Monsieur F. Le Costro, Professor Griffin, and the Yankee Yogi, he was an author, comedian, conjurer, contortionist, dancer, fire-eater, hypnotist, illusionist, lecturer, magician, newspaper owner, publisher, sword swallower, and yogi. His account of life on the road with the Wild West show, published here for the first time since its release in 1908, opens a window on a vanished world. In addition to line drawings and photographs from the original book, Chris Dixon provides an introduction and annotations for historical context. Griffin’s story of traveling with Buffalo Bill in Europe from 1903 to 1906 presents a fascinating picture of a quintessentially American character. At the same time it offers a vision of the nation on the verge of nationalism, imperialism, and an emerging global mass culture.

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Fragrant Orchid

The Story of My Early Life

Yamaguchi Yoshiko and Fujiwara Sakuya, translated by Chia-ning Chang

The acclaimed actress and legendary singer, Yamaguchi Yoshiko (aka Li Xianglan, 1920– 2014), emerged from Japan- occupied Manchuria to become a transnational star during the Second Sino-Japanese war. Born to Japanese parents, raised in Manchuria, and educated in Beijing, the young Yamaguchi learned to speak impeccable Mandarin Chinese and received professional training in operatic singing. When recruited by the Manchurian Film Association in 1939 to act in “national policy” films in the service of Japanese imperialism in China, she allowed herself to be presented as a Chinese, effectively masking her Japanese identity in both her professional and private lives. Yamaguchi soon became an unprecedented transnational phenomenon in Manchuria, Shanghai, and Japan itself as the glamorous female lead in such well-known films as Song of the White Orchid (1939), China Nights (1940), Pledge in the Desert (1940), and Glory to Eternity (1943). Her signature songs, including “When Will You Return?” and “The Evening Primrose,” swept East Asia in the waning years of the war and remained popular well into the postwar decades.

Ironically, although her celebrated international stardom was without parallel in wartime East Asia, she remained a puppet within a puppet state, choreographed at every turn by Japanese film studios in accordance with the expediencies of Japan’s continental policy. In a dramatic turn of events after Japan’s defeat, she was placed under house arrest in Shanghai by the Chinese Nationalist forces and barely escaped execution as a traitor to China. Her complex and intriguing life story as a convenient pawn, willing instrument, and tormented victim of Japan’s imperialist ideology is told in her bestselling autobiography, translated here in full for the first time in English. An addendum reveals her postwar career in Hollywood and Broadway in the 1950s, her friendship with Charlie Chaplin, her first marriage to Isamu Noguchi, and her postwar life as singer, actress, political figure, television celebrity, and private citizen.

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Francis Ford Coppola

Jeff Menne

Acclaimed as one of the most influential and innovative American directors, Francis Ford Coppola is also lionized as a maverick auteur at war with Hollywood's power structure and an ardent critic of the postindustrial corporate America it reflects. However, Jeff Menne argues that Coppola exemplifies the new breed of creative corporate person and sees the director's oeuvre as vital for reimagining the corporation in the transformation of Hollywood. Reading auteur theory as the new American business theory, Menne reveals how Coppola's vision of a new kind of company has transformed the worker into a liberated and well-utilized artist, but has also commodified individual creativity at a level unprecedented in corporate history. Coppola negotiated the contradictory roles of shrewd businessman and creative artist by recognizing the two roles are fused in a postindustrial economy. Analyzing films like The Godfather (1970) and the overlooked Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988) through Coppola's use of opera, Menne illustrates how Coppola developed a defining musical aesthetic while making films that reflected the idea of a corporation as family--and how his studio American Zoetrope came to represent a new brand of auteurism and the model for post-Fordist Hollywood.

Frank Capra Cover

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Frank Capra

The Catastrophe of Success

Moviegoers often assume Frank Capra's life resembled his beloved films (such as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It's a Wonderful Life. A man of the people faces tremendous odds and, by doing the right thing, triumphs! But as Joseph McBride reveals in this meticulously researched, definitive biography, the reality was far more complex, a true American tragedy. Using newly declassified U.S. government documents about Capra's response to being considered a possible "subversive" during the post-World War II Red Scare, McBride adds a final chapter to his unforgettable portrait of the man who gave us It Happened One Night Mr. Deeds Goes to Town , and Meet John Doe

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