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In the early twentieth century, the art world was captivated by the imaginative, totally original paintings of Henri Rousseau, who, seemingly without formal art training, produced works that astonished not only the public but great artists such as Pablo Picasso. Samuel Fuller (1912-1997) is known as the "Rousseau of the cinema," a mostly "B" genre Hollywood moviemaker deeply admired by "A" filmmakers as diverse as Jim Jarmusch, Martin Scorsese, Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, and John Cassavetes, all of them dazzled by Fuller's wildly idiosyncratic primitivist style.
A high-school dropout who became a New York City tabloid crime reporter in his teens, Fuller went to Hollywood and made movies post-World War II that were totally in line with his exploitative newspaper work: bold, blunt, pulpy, excitable. The images were as shocking, impolite, and in-your-face as a Weegee photograph of a gangster bleeding on a sidewalk. Fuller, who made twenty-three features between 1949 and 1989, is the very definition of a "cult" director, appreciated by those with a certain bent of subterranean taste, a penchant for what critic Manny Farber famously labeled as "termite art."
Here are some of the crazy, lurid, comic-book titles of his movies: Shock Corridor, The Naked Kiss, Verboten!, Pickup on South Street. Fuller isn't for everybody. His fans have to appreciate low-budget genre films, including westerns and war movies, and make room for some hard-knuckle, ugly bursts of violence. They also have to make allowance for lots of broad, crass acting, and scripts (all Fuller-written) that can be stiff, sometimes campy, often laboriously didactic. Fuller is for those who love cinema--images that jump, shout, dance. As he put it in his famous cigar-chomping cameo, acting in Jean-Luc Godard's Pierrot le fou (1965): "Film is like a battleground . . . love, hate, violence, death. In a single word: emotion."
After directing, Sam Fuller's greatest skill was conversation. He could talk, talk, talk, from his amazing experiences fighting in World War II to the time his brother-in-law dated Marilyn Monroe, and vivid stories about his moviemaking. Samuel Fuller: Interviews, edited by Gerald Peary, is not only informative about the filmmaker's career but sheer fun, following the wild, totally uninhibited stream of Fuller's chatter. He was an incredible storyteller, and, no matter the interview, he had stories galore for all sorts of readers, not just academics and film historians.
John Ford's classic films--such as Stagecoach The Grapes of Wrath How Green Was My Valley The Quiet Man and The Searchers have earned him worldwide admiration as America's foremost filmmaker, a director whose rich visual imagination conjures up indelible, deeply moving images of our collective past. Joseph McBride's Searching for John Ford , described as definitive by both the New York Times and the Irish Times surpasses all other biographies of the filmmaker in its depth, originality, and insight. Encompassing and illuminating Ford's myriad complexities and contradictions, McBride traces the trajectory of Ford's life from his beginnings as "Bull" Feeney, the nearsighted, football-playing son of Irish immigrants in Portland, Maine, to his recognition, after a long, controversial, and much-honored career, as America's national mythmaker. Blending lively and penetrating analyses of Ford's films with an impeccably documented narrative of the historical and psychological contexts in which those films were created, McBride has at long last given John Ford the biography his stature demands.
The Lives of Eva Le Gallienne
The first full-length biography of stage actress Eva Le Gallienne traces her life from her birth into the troubled but fascinating household of Richard Le Gallienne, British writer and intimate member of the Oscar Wilde circle, to her recent death.
A Writer in Early Hollywood
" Freddie Maas's revealing memoir offers a unique perspective on the film industry and Hollywood culture in their early days and illuminates the plight of Hollywood writers working within the studio system. An ambitious twenty-three-year-old, Maas moved to Hollywood and launched her own writing career by drafting a screenplay of the bestselling novel The Plastic Age for ""It"" girl Clara Bow. On the basis of that script, she landed a staff position at powerhouse MGM studios. In the years to come, she worked with and befriended numerous actors and directors, including Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, and Eric von Stroheim, as well as such writers and producers as Thomas Mann and Louis B. Mayer. As a professional screenwriter, Fredderica quickly learned that scripts and story ideas were frequently rewritten and that screen credit was regularly given to the wrong person. Studio executives wanted well-worn plots, but it was the writer's job to develop the innovative situations and scintillating dialogue that would bring to picture to life. For over twenty years, Freddie and her friends struggled to survive in this incredibly competitive environment. Through it all, Freddie remained a passionate, outspoken woman in an industry run by powerful men, and her provocative, nonconformist ways brought her success, failure, wisdom, and a wealth of stories, opinions, and insight into a fascinating period in screen history.
A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film Actors and Actresses
" From his unique perspective of friendship with many of the actors and actresses about whom he writes, silent film historian Anthony Slide creates vivid portraits of the careers and often eccentric lives of 100 players from the American silent film industry. He profiles the era’s shining stars such as Lillian Gish and Blanche Sweet; leading men including William Bakewell and Robert Harron; gifted leading ladies such as Laura La Plante and Alice Terry; ingénues like Mary Astor and Mary Brian; and even Hollywood’s most famous extra, Bess Flowers. Although each original essay is accompanied by significant documentation and an extensive bibliography, Silent Players is not simply a reference book or encyclopedic recitation of facts culled from the pages of fan magazines and trade periodicals. It contains a series of insightful portraits of the characters who symbolize an original and pioneering era in motion history and explores their unique talents and extraordinary private lives. Slide offers a potentially revisionist view of many of the stars he profiles, repudiating the status of some and restoring to fame others who have slipped from view. He personally interviewed many of his subjects and knew several of them intimately, putting him in a distinctive position to tell their true stories.
The Life and Times of Clifton Webb
More than any other male movie star, the refined Clifton Webb (1889-1966) caused the movie-going public to change its image of a leading man. In a day when leading men were supposed to be strong, virile, and brave, Clifton Webb projected an image of flip, acerbic arrogance. He was able to play everything from a decadent columnist to a fertile father , delivering lines in an urbanely clipped, acidly dry manner with impeccable timing. Sitting Pretty is his remarkable story. Long before his film career began, Webb was a child actor and later a suavely effete song-and-dance man in numerous Broadway musicals and revues. The turning point in his career came in 1941 when his good friend Noël Coward cast him in Blithe Spirit. Director Otto Preminger saw Webb's performance and cast him in Laura in 1944. Webb began to write his autobiography but said he eventually had gotten "bogged down" in the process. However, he did complete six chapters and left a hefty collection of notes that he intended to use in the proposed book. His writing is as witty and sophisticated as his onscreen persona. Those six chapters, information and voluminous notes, and personal research by the coauthor provide an intimate view of an amazingly talented man's life and times.
Innuendo and Out the Other
What we have here is another mighty slim volume from Michael Feldman, best known (when known at all) for his public radio show "Whad'ya Know" (sic). Feldman, who spouts off about things he knows "not much" about weekly, here writes them down:
· how to get your own radio show and what you can do with it once you do
· marriage (or as Feldman likes to refer to it, "a long-term bad relationship")
· child-rearing (although it sounds like it's the author who is being reared)
· a number of short pieces on places he and his crew have visited for their "remote possibilities"
· more references to "gentiles" than absolutely necessary (seems to be an issue for Feldman, although he is tickled with the
notion that, to a Mormon, he is one)
· some attempts to misrepresent scientific or social research for humorous purposes
· many personal revelations that prove the examined life is not necessarily worth living either
· and pages and pages of fluff.
Mr. Feldman has not been compared, to our knowledge, to S. J. Perlman.
But here is some of what Michael Feldman says in Something I Said:
"The paranoid no longer is: paranoia has outlived its usefulness when everybody is out to get us."
"Take the phrase 'no problem': I can use it, although it is the very opposite of my two-word world view ('Nothing works')."
"Whatever latitude beauty may have in the eye of the beholder, funny is not readily apparent to all, and, who knows, they may be right. More importantly, they may be bigger."
Includes a music CD by Michael Feldman and John Sieger.
Stars in My Eyes is a revealing and entertaining collection of celebrity portraits, rendered both in acute drawings and in finely observed prose. In the 1970s and 1980s, internationally known artist Don Bachardy made portraits from life, depicting the actors, writers, artists, composers, directors, and Hollywood elite that he and his partner Christopher Isherwood knew. He then made detailed notes about these portrait sittings in the journal he has kept for more than forty years. The result is a unique document: we enter the mind of the artist as he records the images and behavior of his celebrity subjects—from Ruby Keeler and Barbara Stanwyck to Jack Nicholson and Linda Ronstadt—during their often intense collaboration with him.
Finalist, Lambda Book Award
A Biography, Second Edition
Until the first edition of Steven Spielberg: A Biography was published in 1997, much about Spielberg's personality and the forces that shaped it had remained enigmatic, in large part because of his tendency to obscure and mythologize his own past. But in this first full-scale, in-depth biography of Spielberg, Joseph McBride reveals hidden dimensions of the filmmaker's personality and shows how deeply personal even his most commercial work has been This new edition adds four chapters to Spielberg's life story, chronicling his extraordinarily active and creative period from 1997 to the present, a period in which he has balanced his executive duties as one of the partners in the film studio DreamWorks SKG with a remarkable string of films as a director. Spielberg's ambitious recent work--including Amistad, Saving Private Ryan, A. I. Artifucial Intelligence, Minority Report, The Terminal and Munich--has continually expanded his range both stylistically and in terms of adventurous, often controversial, subject matter. Steven Spielberg: A Biography brought about a reevaluation of the great filmmaker's life and work by those who viewed him as merely a facile entertainer. This new edition guides readers through the mature artistry of Spielberg's later period in which he manages, against considerable odds, to run a successful studio while maintaining and enlarging his high artistic standards as one of America's most thoughtful, sophisticated, and popular filmmakers Until the first edition of Steven Spielberg: A Biography was published in 1997, much about Spielberg's personality and the forces that shaped it had remained enigmatic, in large part because of his tendency to obscure and mythologize his own past. But in this first full-scale, in-depth biography of Spielberg, Joseph McBride reveals hidden dimensions of the filmmaker's personality and shows how deeply personal even his most commercial work has been.This new edition adds four chapters to Spielberg's life story, chronicling his extraordinarily active and creative period from 1997 to the present, a period in which he has balanced his executive duties as one of the partners in the film studio DreamWorks SKG with a remarkable string of films as a director. Spielberg's ambitious recent work--including Amistad, Saving Private Ryan A. I. Artifucial Intelligencem Minority Report The Terminal and Munich--has continually expanded his range both stylistically and in terms of adventurous, often controversial, subject matter. Steven Spielberg: A Biography brought about a reevaluation of the great filmmaker's life and work by those who viewed him as merely a facile entertainer. This new edition guides readers through the mature artistry of Spielberg's later period in which he manages, against considerable odds, to run a successful studio while maintaining and enlarging his high artistic standards as one of America's most thoughtful, sophisticated, and popular filmmakers.
We're Gonna Need a Bigger Book
Has any film director had a greater impact on popular culture than Steven Spielberg? Whether filming Holocaust heroes and villains, soldiers, dinosaurs, extraterrestrials, or explorers in search of the Holy Grail, Spielberg has given filmgoers some of the most memorable characters and wrenching moments in the history of cinema. Whatever his subject—war, cloning, slavery, terrorism, or adventure—all of Spielberg’s films have one aspect in common: a unique view of the moral fabric of humanity. Dean A. Kowalski’s Steven Spielberg and Philosophy is like a remarkable conversation after a night at the movie theater, offering new insights and unexpected observations about the director’s most admired films. Some of the nation’s most respected philosophers investigate Spielberg’s art, asking fundamental questions about the nature of humanity, cinema, and Spielberg’s expression of his chosen themes. Applying various philosophical principles to the movies, the book explores such topics as the moral demands of parenthood in War of the Worlds; the ultimate unknowability of the “other” in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Schindler’s List; the relationship between nature and morality in Jurassic Park; the notion of consciousness in A.I.: Artificial Intelligence; issues of war theory and ethics in Munich; and the foundation of human rights in Amistad. Impressive in scope, this volume illustrates the philosophical tenets of a wide variety of thinkers from Plato to Aquinas, Locke, and Levinas. Contributors introduce readers to philosophy while simultaneously providing deeper insight into Spielberg’s approach to filmmaking. The essays consider Spielberg’s movies using key philosophical cornerstones: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, axiology, aesthetics, and political philosophy, among others. At the same time, Steven Spielberg and Philosophy is accessible to those new to philosophy, using the philosophical platform to ponder larger issues embedded in film and asking fundamental questions about the nature of cinema and how meanings are negotiated. The authors contend that movies do not present philosophy—rather philosophy is something viewers do while watching and thinking about films. Using Spielberg’s films as a platform for discussing these concepts, the authors contemplate questions that genuinely surprise the reader, offering penetrating insights that will be welcomed by film critics, philosophers, and fans alike.