The University Press of Kentucky

Screen Classics

Patrick McGilligan

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

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Albert Capellani

Pioneer of the Silent Screen

Christine Leteux. foreword by Kevin Brownlow

In recent years, technology has given films of the silent era and their creators a second life as new processes have eased their restoration and distribution. Among the films benefitting from these developments are the works of director Albert Capellani (1874--1931), whose oeuvre was instrumental in the development of cinema in the early 1900s and whose contributions rival those of D. W. Griffith.

For the first time in English, Christine Leteux's essential biography of Capellani offers a detailed assessment of the groundbreaking director. Capellani began his career in France at what was, at the time, the biggest film company in the world: Pathé. There, he directed the first multireel version of Les Miserables in 1912 as well as his masterpiece, Germinal (1913). After immigrating to the United States, Capellani worked at a number of production houses, including Metro Pictures Corporation, where he produced his two best-known films, The House of Mirth (1918) and The Red Lantern (1919). He was well known for making stage actors into movie stars, and Mistinguett, Stacia Napierkowska, and Alla Nazimova all rose to prominence under his direction.

The ups and downs of Capellani's career paralleled the evolution of the film industry and demonstrated the fickle nature of success. His technical and aesthetic achievements, however, paved the way for future filmmakers. Featuring a foreword by Academy Award--winning film historian Kevin Brownlow, Leteux's intimate biography paints a fascinating portrait of one of the leading pioneers of early cinema and provides a new window into the origins of the moving picture.

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Ann Dvorak

Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel

Christina Rice

Possessing a unique beauty and refined acting skills, Ann Dvorak (1911--1979) found success in Hollywood at a time when many actors were still struggling to adapt to the era of talkies. Seemingly destined for A-list fame, critics touted her as "Hollywood's New Cinderella" after film mogul Howard Hughes cast her as Cesca in the gangster film Scarface (1932). Dvorak's journey to superstardom was derailed when she walked out on her contractual obligations to Warner Bros. for an extended honeymoon. Later, she initiated a legal dispute over her contract, an action that was unprecedented at a time when studios exercised complete control over actors' careers.

As the first full-length biography of an often-overlooked actress, Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel explores the life and career of one of the first individuals who dared to challenge the studio system that ruled Tinseltown. The actress reached her pinnacle during the early 1930s, when the film industry was relatively uncensored and free to produce movies with more daring storylines. She played several female leads in films including The Strange Love of Molly Louvain (1932), and Three on a Match (1932), and Heat Lightning (1934), but after her walk-out, Warner Bros retaliated by casting her in less significant roles.

Following the casting conflicts and illness, Dvorak filed a lawsuit against the Warner Bros. studio, setting a precedent for other stars who eventually rebelled against the established Hollywood system. In this insightful memoir, Christina Rice explores the spirited rebellion of a talented actress whose promising career fell victim to the studio empire.

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Anne Bancroft

A Life

Douglass K. Daniel

"Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?" These famous lines from The Graduate (1967) would forever link Anne Bancroft (1931--2005) to the groundbreaking film and confirm her status as a movie icon. Along with her portrayal of Annie Sullivan in the stage and film drama The Miracle Worker, this role was a highlight of a career that spanned a half-century and brought Bancroft an Oscar, two Tonys, and two Emmy awards.

In the first biography to cover the entire scope of Bancroft's life and career, Douglass K. Daniel brings together interviews with dozens of her friends and colleagues, never-before-published family photos, and material from film and theater archives to present a portrait of an artist who raised the standards of acting for all those who followed. Daniel reveals how, from a young age, Bancroft was committed to challenging herself and strengthening her craft. Her talent (and good timing) led to a breakthrough role in Two for the Seesaw, which made her a Broadway star overnight. The role of Helen Keller's devoted teacher in the stage version of The Miracle Worker would follow, and Bancroft also starred in the movie adaption of the play, which earned her an Academy Award. She went on to appear in dozens of film, theater, and television productions, including several movies directed or produced by her husband, Mel Brooks. Anne Bancroft: A Life offers new insights into the life and career of a determined actress who left an indelible mark on the film industry while remaining true to her art.

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Arthur Penn

American Director

Nat Segaloff

Arthur Penn: American Director is the comprehensive biography of one of the twentieth century’s most influential filmmakers. Thematic chapters lucidly convey the story of Penn’s life and career, as well as pertinent events in the history of American film, theater, and television. In the process of tracing the full spectrum of his career, Arthur Penn reveals the enormous scope of Penn’s talent and his profound impact on the entertainment industry in an accessible, engaging account of the well-known director’s life. Born in 1922 to a family of Philadelphia immigrants, the young Penn was bright but aimless—especially compared to his talented older brother Irving, who would later become a world-renowned photographer. Penn drifted into directing, but he soon mastered the craft in three mediums: television, Broadway, and motion pictures. By the time he made Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Penn was already a Tony-winning Broadway director and one of the prodigies of the golden age of television. His innovative handling of the story of two Depression-era outlaws not only challenged Hollywood’s strict censorship code, it shook the foundation of studio system itself and ushered in the film revolution. His next films—Alice’s Restaurant (1969), Little Big Man (1970), and Night Moves (1975)—became instant classics, summoning emotions from shock to sensuality and from confusion to horror, all of which reflected the complexity of the man behind the camera. The personal and creative odyssey captured in these pages includes memorable adventures in World War II; the chaotic days of live television; the emergence of Method acting in Hollywood; and experiences with Marlon Brando, Anne Bancroft, Warren Beatty, William Gibson, Lillian Hellman, and a host of other show business legends.

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Barbara La Marr

The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood

Sherri Snyder

Barbara La Marr's (1896--1926) publicist once confessed: "There was no reason to lie about Barbara La Marr. Everything she said, everything she did was colored with news-value." When La Marr was sixteen, her older half-sister and a male companion reportedly kidnapped her, causing a sensation in the media. One year later, her behavior in Los Angeles nightclubs caused law enforcement to declare her "too beautiful" to be on her own in the city, and she was ordered to leave. When La Marr returned to Hollywood years later, her loveliness and raw talent caught the attention of producers and catapulted her to movie stardom.

In the first full-length biography of the woman known as the "girl who was too beautiful," Sherri Snyder presents a complete portrait of one of the silent era's most infamous screen sirens. In five short years, La Marr appeared in twenty-six films, including The Prisoner of Zenda (1922), Trifling Women (1922), The Eternal City (1923), The Shooting of Dan McGrew (1924), and Thy Name Is Woman (1924). Yet by 1925 -- finding herself beset by numerous scandals, several failed marriages, a hidden pregnancy, and personal prejudice based on her onscreen persona -- she fell out of public favor. When she was diagnosed with a fatal lung condition, she continued to work, undeterred, until she collapsed on set. She died at the age of twenty-nine.

Few stars have burned as brightly and as briefly as Barbara La Marr, and her extraordinary life story is one of tempestuous passions as well as perseverance in the face of adversity. Drawing on never-before-released diary entries, correspondence, and creative works, Snyder's biography offers a valuable perspective on her contributions to silent-era Hollywood and the cinematic arts.

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Being Hal Ashby

Life of a Hollywood Rebel

Nick Dawson

Hal Ashby (1929–1988) was always an outsider, and as a director he brought an outsider’s perspective to Hollywood cinema. After moving to California from a Mormon household in Utah, he created eccentric films that reflected the uncertain social climate of the 1970s. Whether it is his enduring cult classic Harold and Maude (1971) or the iconic Being There (1979), Ashby’s artistry is unmistakable. His skill for blending intense drama with off-kilter comedy attracted A-list actors and elicited powerful performances from Jack Nicholson in The Last Detail (1973), Warren Beatty and Julie Christie in Shampoo (1975), and Jon Voight and Jane Fonda in Coming Home (1979). Yet the man behind these films is still something of a mystery. In Being Hal Ashby: Life of a Hollywood Rebel, author Nick Dawson for the first time tells the story of a man whose thoughtful and challenging body of work continues to influence modern filmmakers and whose life was as dramatic and unconventional as his films. Ashby began his career as an editor, and it did not take long for his talents to be recognized. He won an Academy Award in 1967 for editing In the Heat of the Night and leveraged his success as an editor to pursue his true passion: directing. Crafting seminal films that steered clear of mainstream conventions yet attracted both popular and critical praise, Ashby became one of the quintessential directors of the 1970s New Hollywood movement. No matter how much success Ashby achieved, he was never able to escape the ghosts of his troubled childhood. The divorce of his parents, his father’s suicide, and his own marriage and divorce—all before the age of nineteen—led to a lifelong struggle with drugs for which he became infamous in Hollywood. And yet, contrary to mythology, it was not Ashby’s drug abuse that destroyed his career but a fundamental mismatch between the director and the stifling climate of 1980s studio filmmaking. Although his name may not be recognized by many of today’s filmgoers, Hal Ashby is certainly familiar to filmmakers. Despite his untimely death in 1988, his legacy of innovation and individuality continues to influence a generation of independent directors, including Wes Anderson, Sean Penn, and the Coen brothers, who place substance and style above the pursuit of box-office success. In this groundbreaking and exhaustively researched biography, Nick Dawson draws on firsthand interviews and personal papers from Ashby’s estate to offer an intimate look at the tumultuous life of an artist unwilling to conform or compromise.

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Bruce Dern

A Memoir

Bruce Dern with Christopher Fryer and Robert Crane

One of Hollywood's biggest personalities, Bruce Dern is not afraid to say what he thinks. He has left an indelible mark on numerous projects, from critically acclaimed films to made-for-TV movies and television series. His notable credits include The Great Gatsby (1974), The 'Burbs (1989), Monster (2003), Django Unchained (2012), and Nebraska (2013), for which he won the Best Actor award at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. He also earned Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor in Coming Home (1978) and for Best Actor in Nebraska (2013).

In Bruce Dern: A Memoir, Christopher Fryer and Robert Crane help the outspoken star frame the fascinating tale of his life in Hollywood. Dern details the challenges he faced as an artist in a cutthroat business, his struggle against typecasting, and his thoughts on and relationships with other big names in the industry, including Elia Kazan, Alfred Hitchcock, Jack Nicholson, Paul Newman, Bob Dylan, Matt Damon, Jane Fonda, John Wayne, and Tom Hanks. He also explores the impact of his fame on his family and discusses his unique relationship with his daughter, actress Laura Dern.

Edgy and uncensored, this memoir takes readers on a wild ride, offering an insider's view of the last fifty years in Hollywood.

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Buzz

The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley

Jeffrey Spivak

Characterized by grandiose song-and-dance numbers featuring ornate geometric patterns and mimicked in many modern films, Busby Berkeley’s unique artistry is as recognizable and striking as ever. From his years on Broadway to the director’s chair, Berkeley is notorious for his inventiveness and signature style. Through sensational films like 42nd Street (1933), Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), Footlight Parade (1933), and Dames (1934), Berkeley sought to distract audiences from the troubles of the Great Depression. Although his bold technique is familiar to millions of moviegoers, Berkeley’s life remains a mystery. Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley is a telling portrait of the filmmaker who revolutionized the musical and changed the world of choreography. Berkeley pioneered many conventions still in use today, including the famous “parade of faces” technique, which lends an identity to each anonymous performer in a close-up. Carefully arranging dancers in complex and beautiful formations, Berkeley captured perspectives never seen before. Jeffrey Spivak’s meticulous research magnifies the career and personal life of this beloved filmmaker. Employing personal letters, interviews, studio memoranda, and Berkeley’s private memoirs, Spivak unveils the colorful life of one of cinema’s greatest artists.

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Carl Theodor Dreyer and Ordet

My Summer with the Danish Filmmaker

Jan Wahl

Regarded by many filmmakers and critics as one of the greatest directors in cinema history, Carl Theodor Dreyer (1889--1968) achieved worldwide acclaim after the debut of his masterpiece, The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), which was named the most influential film of all time at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. In 1955 Dreyer granted twenty-three-year-old American student Jan Wahl the extraordinary opportunity to spend a unique and unforgettable summer with him during the filming of Ordet (The Word [1955]).

Carl Theodor Dreyer and Ordet: My Summer with the Danish Filmmaker is a captivating account of Wahl's time with the director, based on Wahl's daily journal accounts and transcriptions of his conversations with Dreyer. Offering a glimpse into the filmmaker's world, Wahl fashions a portrait of Dreyer as a man, mentor, friend, and director. Wahl's unique and charming account is supplemented by exquisite photos of the filming and by selections from Dreyer's papers, including his notes on film style, his introduction for the actors before the filming of Ordet, and a visionary lecture he delivered at Edinburgh. Carl Theodor Dreyer and Ordet details one student's remarkable experiences with a legendary director and the unlikely bond formed over a summer.

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Charles Walters

The Director Who Made Hollywood Dance

Brent Phillips

From the trolley scene in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers's last dance on the silver screen (The Barkleys of Broadway, 1949) to Judy Garland's timeless, tuxedo-clad performance of "Get Happy" (Summer Stock, 1950), Charles Walters staged the iconic musical sequences of Hollywood's golden age. During his career, this Academy Award--nominated director and choreographer showcased the talents of stars such as Gene Kelly, Doris Day, Debbie Reynolds, and Frank Sinatra. However, despite his many critical and commercial triumphs, Walters's name often goes unrecognized today.

In the first full-length biography of Walters, Brent Phillips chronicles the artist's career, from his days as a featured Broadway performer and protégé of theater legend Robert Alton to his successes at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He takes readers behind the scenes of many of the studio's most beloved musicals, including Easter Parade (1948), Lili (1953), High Society (1956), and The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964). In addition, Phillips recounts Walters's associations with Lucille Ball, Joan Crawford, and Gloria Swanson, examines the director's uncredited work on several films, including the blockbuster Gigi (1958), and discusses his contributions to musical theater and American popular culture.

This revealing book also considers Walters's personal life and explores how he navigated the industry as an openly gay man. Drawing on unpublished oral histories, correspondence, and new interviews, this biography offers an entertaining and important new look at an exciting era in Hollywood history.

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