Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Some more new and recommended books on film: Paramount, Fox, comedies and SEX

Ahead of a longer review, here are a few more new books I wish to recommend to fans of Louise Brooks as well as those interested in the silent and early sound film era. Each title provides valuable background information about the era in which Brooks was active, and each mentions or touches on the actress and her career. Each book can be found on amazon.com and elsewhere.

100 Essential Silent Film Comedies (Rowman & Littlefield)
by James Roots

"From the moment films were first produced, comedy has been a key feature of cinema. From just before the turn of the twentieth century until the early 1930s, audiences celebrated the brilliant humor of cinematic clowns who left their marks forever. We still remember—and laugh at—the hilarious antics of Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and many others.

In 100 Essential Silent Film Comedies James Roots identifies the major comedic motion pictures produced in the first few decades of the twentieth century. With a lucid and lively style, Roots takes a look at more than 400 silent comedies and narrows the list to 100 that viewers should consider. Each entry includes cast and crew information, a synopsis, critical evaluation, and additional commentary—all to demonstrate why that particular film is essential viewing. The films range from 70 seconds to full-length features and even include some of the earliest produced films, starting in 1894. In addition to citing Hollywood’s finest, the book profiles comedies from around the world, including selections from the United Kingdom, France, Japan and Russia.

More than seventy silent comedians from Charlie Chaplin to Max Linder are represented in these selections, and the book celebrates such established classics as The General and Safety Last—as well as relatively obscure one-reelers. Including information about DVD availability, 100 Essential Silent Film Comedies is an invaluable resource that provides both scholars and general film fans a list of entertaining films to explore.

James Roots is Executive Director of the Canadian Association of the Deaf. A book reviewer for more than twenty years, he has written frequently on silent film, especially comedy. He is the author of The 100 Greatest Silent Film Comedians (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014)."

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Paramount: City of Dreams (Taylor)
by Steven Bingen

"Paramount: City of Dreams brings to life the operations of the world’s grandest movie lot as never before by opening its famous gates and revealing – for the first time – the wonderful myriad of soundstages and outdoor sets where, for one hundred years, Paramount has produced the world’s most famous films. With hundreds and hundreds of rare and unpublished photographs in color and black & white, readers are launched aboard a fun and entertaining “virtual tour” of Hollywood’s first, most famous and most mysterious motion picture studio. Paramount is a self-contained city. But unlike any community in the real world, this city’s streets and lawns, its bungalows and backlots, will be familiar even to those who have never been there. Now, for the first time, these much-filmed, much-haunted acres will be explored and the mysteries and myths peeled away – bringing into focus the greatest of all of Hollywood’s legendary dream factories.

Steven Bingen has long worked within the motion picture industry, both in production and as a writer and historian. He held a staff position at Warner Bros. Corporate Archive - aiding in the preservation and management of the studios legend and legacy. He is an author of "MGM: Hollywood's Greatest Backlot," "Warner Bros: Hollywood's Ultimate Backlot," "Paramount: City of Dreams," and "Warner Bros. The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of" and has contributed to many books and documentaries. His numerous essays and magazine articles include recent pieces for "Filmfax," "Mondo Cult," "Cinema Retro" and "Perspective." "The Ghastly Love of Johnny X" for which he wrote the screenplay for director Paul Bunnell, was released in 2012."

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Twentieth Century Fox: A Century of Entertainment (Lyons Press)
by Michael Troyan

"Here it is: the first-time look at the remarkable American multinational mass media empire and its century of entertainment—the story of Twentieth Century Fox (1915–2015). Or, to borrow the title of a classic 1959 Fox film, The Best of Everything. This is the complete revelatory story—bookended by empire builders William Fox and Rupert Murdoch—aimed as both a grand, entertaining, nostalgic and picture-filled interactive read and the ultimate guide to all things Twentieth Century Fox. The controversies and scandals are here, as are the extraordinary achievements. Among other firsts, the book offers fun tours of its historic production and ranch facilities including never-before-told stories about its stars and creative personalities (Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, James Dean, and Shirley Temple got started there). Finally, it is the first such work approved by the company and utilizing its own unique resources. The authors primarily tell a celebratory tale, but most importantly, an accurate one.

Michael Troyan has worked as an archivist at the Walt Disney and Warner Bros. studios as well as a consultant and film historian elsewhere. He is the author of A Rose For Mrs. Miniver: The Life of Greer Garson, and has contributed to numerous books about Hollywood, and particularly Disney, history. He lives in Northern California. Stephen Sylvester is the former head of Hollywood Heritage and a member of the Friends of Fox. Besides combing the company’s archives as never before, Sylvester also has ongoing interviews with dozens of Fox employees past and present, celebrating every aspect of its motion picture making."
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Sex In the Cinema: The Pre-Code Years (1929-1934) (BearManor)
by Lou Sabini (Author)

"Hollywood movies in the 1920s depicted sex, violence, and alcohol and drug abuse with freewheeling abandon, but filmmaking freedom halted with the mysterious murder of director William Desmond Taylor, the drug death of writer-director-actor Wallace Reid, and the rape trials of Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. Hollywood had to choose self-censorship or face the moral indignation of the law. They chose to manage movie madcaps themselves. Will H. Hays, President of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA) from 1922 to 1945, prescribed the Production Code in 1930 and began strictly enforcing it in 1934. The Production Code spelled out a set of moral guidelines that were popularly known as the Hays Code. For decades, moviemaking was never the same.

Rediscover 107 spicy films from the Pre-code era, including Stolen Heaven (1931), The Night of June 13th (1932), Three on a Match (1932), Red-Headed Woman (1932), Call Her Savage (1932), This Reckless Age (1932), Young Bride (1932), Panama Flo (1932), and Baby Face (1933). Relive the fabled faces of these fiery films, such as Barbara Stanwyck, Norma Shearer, Jean Harlow, Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, James Cagney, Clark Gable, Edward G. Robinson, Wallace Beery, Carole Lombard, Frances Dee, Chester Morris, and Sylvia Sidney, as well as directors Frank Capra, Rouben Mamoulian, James Whale, William Wellman, Michael Curtiz, William Wyler, and W. S. Van Dyke. Author Lou Sabini points his comprehensive spotlight on the often forgotten yet always fascinating films that dared depict violence, drugs, and sex with a sinful flair. 107 films profiled. Illustrated with 178 rare photographs and memorabilia from the world’s archives. Complete casts, credits, production history, and biographical profiles of the stars, director, writers, and cameramen.

About the author: Lou Sabini attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, later teaching and lecturing about film. He is the author of Behind the Scenes of They Were Expendable."

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