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The Epic Cinema of Kumar Shahani

Laleen Jayamanne

The Epic Cinema of Kumar Shahani examines the major works of leading Indian film director Kumar Shahani and explores the reaches of modernist film aesthetics in its international form. More than an auteur study, Laleen Jayamanne approaches Shahani's oeuvre conceptually, as films that reveal cinema's synesthetic capabilities. As the author illustrates, Shahani's cinematic project entails a modern reformulation of the ancient oral tradition of epic narration and performance in order to address the contemporary world, establishing a new cinematic expression. As evidenced by his films, constructing cinematic history entails more than an archival project of retrieval and is a living history of the present, which can intervene in the current moment through sensory experiences.

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Eric Rohmer

Interviews

Fiona Handyside

The 1969 film Ma Nuit chez Maud catapulted its shy academic film director Eric Rohmer (1920-2010) into the limelight, selling over a million tickets in France and earning a nomination for an Academy Award. Ma Nuit chez Maud remains his most famous film, the highlight of an impressive range of films examining the sexual, romantic, and artistic mores of contemporary France, the temptations of desire, the small joys of everyday life, and sometimes, the vicissitudes of history and politics. Yet Rohmer was already forty years old when Maud was released and had already had a career as the editor of Cahiers du Cinéma, a position he lost in a political takeover in 1963. The interviews in this book offer a range of insights into the theoretical, critical, and practical circumstances of Rohmer's remarkably coherent body of films, but also allow Rohmer to act as his own critic, providing us with an array of readings concerning his interest in setting, season, color, and narrative.


Alongside the application of a theoretical rigor to his own films, Rohmer's interviews also discuss directors as varied as Godard, Carné, Renoir, and Hitchcock, and the relations of film to painting, architecture, and music. This book reproduces little-known interviews, such as a debate Rohmer undertakes with Women and Film concerning feminism, alongside detailed discussions from Cahiers and Positif, many produced in English here for the first time.

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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)
 

 

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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.

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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.

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Finding the Jewish Shakespeare

The Life and Legacy of Jacob Gordin

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

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Flying Funny

My Life without a Net

Dudley Riggs

Dudley Riggs didn’t have to run away from home to join the circus. Home was the circus. Son of the acclaimed aerial flyers Riggs and Riggs, he made his circus debut as a polar prince parading in a wagon pulled by a polar bear. At the age of five, he graduated to a risqué vaudeville act during the circus off- season; at eight, he outgrew his cutes (and his child stardom) and joined his high-flying parents on the trapeze. Eventually he had to learn to “fly funny” because he grew too tall to fly straight. In one way or another, Riggs has been flying ever since.

The rest, as they say, is history. And what a story it is. In Flying Funny, Riggs shares many highs and lows while describing circus life and the evolution of America’s popular entertainment during the twentieth century. From his early life in circus and vaudeville to his creation of the Brave New Workshop, we see how his show business experience and instincts helped him create in Minneapolis what became the “next wave” in American entertainment—improvisation.  

As a young man, Riggs lost everything in a tornado, got an education on the fly, and sailed with the All American circus to post–war Japan. On a slow boat home and restless about his future, he developed the idea of Word Jazz—creating a script on stage as it is being performed—and shortly after he opened the Instant Theater in New York. Later, he moved to Minneapolis where he founded the Brave New Workshop, launching the careers of comic greats such as Penn and Teller, The Flying Karamazov Brothers, Louie Anderson, Peter Tolan, Pat Proft, Nancy Steen, Liz Winstead, Al Franken and many others. Today, the Brave New Workshop thrives as the longest running improvisational theater in America.  

From flying funny on the trapeze to theater without a net, Dudley Riggs’s story is filled with hearty laughs and eyebrow-raising insights. With a wry sense of humor and infectious warmth, he shares the exhilaration of flying whether through the air or on the stage.

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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.

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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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