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NEW AND NOTABLE FILM BOOKS FOR DECEMBER

These are not reviews as I haven’t had the time to read the many books that arrive on my doorstep…but these titles all interest me and I am eager to spread the word of their publication.

 

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NOTHING ON A STAGE IS PERMANENT: THE HARRY LANGDON SCRAPBOOK by Harry Langdon, Jr., edited by Brian Anthony and Bill Walker (Walker & Anthony Publications)

It’s a pleasure to thumb through this handsomely produced hardcover “scrapbook” of photos, clippings, and memorabilia relating to the fabled comedian. There are plenty of stills and poster reproductions (in color) but what really stands out is the personal material, including a number of Langdon’s cartoons and never-before-seen watercolors. There’s even a get-well telegram to his colleague Charley Chase. Although he died when his son was only 10, Harry Jr. has vivid memories of his father and shares them in his introduction. You can pre-order it HERE

 

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SHE COULD BE CHAPLIN! THE COMEDIC BRILLIANCE OF ALICE HOWELL by Anthony Slide; foreword by George Stevens, Jr. (University Press of Kentucky)

Film historian Slide pays long-overdue tribute to a silent-film comedienne who is all but forgotten today. Her daughter married cameraman-turned-director George Stevens, whose son wrote the foreword to this volume. The book includes rare family photographs as well as two interviews with the late Yvonne Stevens, who shares memories of her talented mother. Buy it HERE

 

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YOU, TALKING TO ME: LESSONS I LEARNED ALONG THE CELEBRITY TRAIL By Lawrence Grobel

No one is better qualified to discuss the art of the interview than Grobel, who has been doing this (and doing it well) for several decades. He’s profiled everyone from Barbra Streisand to Linus Pauling. His chapter titles, aimed especially at aspiring journalists, include “Don’t Be Bullied,” “Anger Fuels Conversation,” and “A Lie Can Be as Telling as a Truth.” Available in paperback or in Kindle form, you can sample of Grobel’s work and buy it HERE

 

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DAN DURYEA: HEEL WITH A HEART by Mike Peros (University Press of Mississippi)

Although never a major star, Dan Duryea enjoyed a rich career on stage, film, and television. He is best remembered for his portrayals of louts and louses in such films as Fritz Lang’s Scarlet Street and Woman in the Window. Typically, this on-screen heavy was a dedicated family man in real life. Author Peros had access to Duryea’s papers and the cooperation of Duryea’s surviving son to write this first-ever biography of the actor. Buy it HERE

 

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THE REAL JAMES DEAN: INTIMATE MEMORIES FROM THOSE WHO KNEW HIM BEST Edited by Peter J. Winkler; foreword by George Stevens, Jr. (Chicago Review Press)

Here is a portrait of the now-iconic actor in the words of forty people who knew and worked with him, from boyhood to the end of his life. Drawn from previously published interviews, articles, and autobiographies, Winkler’s text organizes this material chronologically to create a biographical oral history. Some of the “witnesses” in this book are well-known (Elia Kazan, Shelley Winters, Hume Cronyn), others not, but they all have something unique to share. Buy it HERE

 

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PETER O’TOOLE: THE DEFINITIVE BIOGRAPHY by Robert Sellers (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press)

The author of Hellraisers, which chronicled such hard-drinking actors as Richard Burton, Richard Harris, and Peter O’Toole, apparently found so much material on the latter that it demanded a separate book. Goodness knows there is no lack of material about O’Toole, of whom director Anthony Harvey said, “He was like Peter Pan, Captain Hook and Tinker Bell all in one.” Buy it HERE

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ALEXANDER PAYNE: HIS JOURNEY IN FILM by Leo Adam Biga (River Junction Press)

In this revised edition of his book about one of today’s most gifted writer-directors, Biga brings the narrative up to date with a chapter on Nebraska and Payne’s long-awaited Downsizing, which has recently completed production. With the filmmaker’s participation and cooperation, this is certainly the definitive guide and companion to the works of Alexander Payne, who has given us such modern gems as Citizen Ruth, Election, About Schmidt, Sideways, and The Descendants. Buy it HERE

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FADE UP: “26” THE MOVERS AND SHAKERS OF VARIETY TELEVISION by Steve Binder and Mary Beth Leidman (Kendall Hunt)

If you grew up during the heyday of television variety shows, as I did, you may recognize the names of many directors who are interviewed here. They were responsible for countless hours of great entertainment. Men like Gary Smith, Marty Pasetta, Louis J. Horvitz, John Moffitt, and their colleagues (including co-author Binder) deserve to be celebrated and chronicled, as they are in this scholarly volume. Buy it HERE

 

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FROM THE HEADLINES TO HOLLYWOOD: THE BIRTH AND BOOM OF WARNER BROS. by Chris Yogerst (Rowman and Littlefield)

Not only is Warner Bros. my favorite studio of Hollywood’s golden age: it also  made its complete history available to researchers by donating its production files and memoranda to USC many years ago. Yogerst has drawn upon this treasure trove to trace roughly one decade from the studio’s glory years (1929 to 1940). I can’t get enough of this material! Buy it HERE

 

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TCM PRESENTS LEONARD MALTIN’S CLASSIC MOVIE GUIDE Edited by Leonard Maltin (Plume)

What kind of author would I be if I didn’t plug my own book with the holidays upon us? If someone near and dear to you loves vintage movies I think they will enjoy this paperback reference, now in its 3rd edition. There are more than 10,000 entries, from the silent era to 1965—and 300 titles never covered before in any of my guides. It has been referred to as a handy stocking stuffer, but that will require a heavy-duty stocking. Nuff said. Buy it HERE

 

For an intelligent and insightful review of this year’s film books, I recommend reading this column by Thomas Gladysz:

 

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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