Sunday, September 8, 2013

New Book by Jack Garner - From My Seat on the Aisle: Movies and Memories

Today's Rochester Democrat and Chronicle has an article about Jack Garner, the syndicated Rochester film critic and friend of Louise Brooks. Garner has a new book out called From My Seat on the Aisle: Movies and Memories (RIT Press).

Garner, who retired as the chief film critic for both the Democrat and Chronicle and the Gannett newspaper chain in 2007, spent 30 years working a film critic. His new book collects some of his interviews, reviews, profiles, obits, and reflections on the movie industry. From My Seat on the Aisle: Movies and Memories compiles the best of Garner's journalism, including interviews with many Hollywood celebrities such as Audrey Hepburn, Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep, Jimmy Stewart, Woody Allen, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Garner perspective is humorous, anecdotal, and insightful.

Now retired, Garner continues to write weekly film reviews as well as jazz and classic film critiques. Garner is a recipient of the prestigious George Eastman Medal of Honor and contributor to the Eastman House academic journal, Image. He is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Eastman House Council, and recipient of the 2013 Impact Award from the Rochester Media Association. Garner also wrote the introduction to Peter Cowie's 2006 book, Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever.

As the Democrat and Chronicle article notes, Garner's interest and interaction Hollywood extended to the stars of the silent era:
But while his job involved lots of travel, there were times when Garner could just walk from his home in Rochester to the George Eastman House to interview visiting film dignitaries.

“I can’t get over the fact that I got to interview Lillian Gish, arguably the first movie star,” Garner writes of his Eastman House-connected interviewees. “I did Audrey Hepburn’s last interview. I did Spike Lee at the Eastman House, where we both sat around watching the Knicks in a playoff.”

Louise Brooks, the silent film star, was close by, as well.

Her film career over, but her interest in film history still strong, Brooks moved to Rochester in 1956 so she could be near the Eastman House archive.

Garner first met Brooks in 1979 when he was writing an obituary of John Wayne. (Brooks and Wayne had acted together in Overland Stage Raiders.)

Eventually, Garner and his wife, Bonnie, became friends with the famously reclusive Brooks. They would visit her apartment on North Goodman Street in the city, bringing her food, helping out, listening.

“She loved to talk about sex,” Garner writes. “... She speculated endlessly about the sex appeal and/or sexual preferences of any number of folks.”

I am looking forward to reading From My Seat on the Aisle: Movies and Memories. The book is available directly from the RIT Press at

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