5 New Film Books to Watch Out For

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Showbiz Politics: Hollywood in American Political Life by Kathryn Cramer Brownell (1 Feb 2018)
Conventional wisdom holds that John F. Kennedy was the first celebrity president, in no small part because of his innate television savvy. But, as Kathryn Brownell shows, Kennedy capitalized on a tradition and style rooted in California politics and the Hollywood studio system. Since the 1920s, politicians and professional showmen have developed relationships and built organizations, institutionalizing Hollywood styles, structures, and personalities in the American political process. Brownell explores how similarities developed between the operation of a studio, planning a successful electoral campaign, and ultimately running an administration. Using their business and public relations know-how, figures such as Louis B. Mayer, Bette Davis, Jack Warner, Harry Belafonte, Ronald Reagan, and members of the Rat Pack made Hollywood connections an asset in a political world being quickly transformed by the media. Brownell takes readers behind the camera to explore the negotiations and relationships that developed between key Hollywood insiders and presidential candidates from Dwight Eisenhower to Bill Clinton, analyzing how entertainment replaced party spectacle as a strategy to raise money, win votes, and secure success for all those involved. She demonstrates how Hollywood contributed to the rise of mass-mediated politics, making the twentieth century not just the age of the political consultant, but also the age of showbiz politics.

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Fasten Your Seat Belts: The Passionate Life of Bette Davis by Lawrence J Quirk (6 Feb 2018)
The illuminating, comprehensive biography of Bette Davis, one of the most electrifying Hollywood stars ever to grace the silver screen.

With a career spanning six decades and more than eighty films, Bette Davis is synonymous with Hollywood legend. From her incandescent performance as Margo Channing in All About Eve, to her terrifying, psychopathic Jane Hudson in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Davis generated electricity wherever she appeared, whatever she did–and not just on the silver screen. Her personal life was as passionate as her career and was so fiery that it eventually consumed her.

In this landmark biography, Lawrence J. Quirk takes us behind the scenes of all of Davis’s movies, from her early unpromising roles, to her commanding presence at the pinnacle of stardom, to her degrading exploitation in horror films at the end of her career. Quirk delves into Davis’s four unhappy marriages, as well as her frosty, manipulative relationships with her three children. Also revealed are her many affairs through the years with leading men, bit players, servicemen during World War II, and, very late in her life, much younger men, who repaid her by using her and deserting her. Intense, volatile, ruled often by her emotions, Bette Davis was described by one critic as “a force of nature that could find no ordinary outlet.”

Fasten Your Seat Belts brilliantly explores the life and career of Bette Davis to show us the fascinating original she was.

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Magnificent Obsession: The Outrageous History of Film Buffs, Collectors, Scholars and Fanatics by Anthony Slide (15 Mar 2018)
An all-embracing history of fans and film buffs from the Silent Era to today.

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Marilyn in Manhattan: Her Year of Joy by Elizabeth Winder (1 Apr 2018)
A city, a movie star, and one magical year.

In November of 1954 a young woman dressed plainly in a white oxford, dark sunglasses and a black pageboy wig boards a midnight flight from Los Angeles to New York. As the plane’s engines rev she breathes a sigh of relief, lights a cigarette and slips off her wig revealing a tangle of fluffy blonde curls. Marilyn Monroe was leaving Hollywood behind, and along with it a failed marriage and a frustrating career. She needed a break from the scrutiny and insanity of LA. She needed Manhattan.

In Manhattan, the most famous woman in the world can wander the streets unbothered, spend hours at the Met getting lost in art, and afternoons buried in the stacks of the Strand. Marilyn begins to live a life of the mind in New York; she dates Arthur Miller, dances with Truman Capote and drinks with Carson McCullers. Even though she had never lived there before, in New York, Marilyn is home.

In Elizabeth Winder’s Marilyn in Manhattan, the iconic blonde bombshell is not only happy, but successful. She breaks her contract with Fox Studios to form her own production company, a groundbreaking move that makes her the highest paid actress in history and revolutionizes the entertainment industry. A true love letter to Marilyn, and a joyous portrait of a city bursting with life and art, Marilyn in Manhattan is a beautifully written, lively look at two American treasures: New York and Marilyn Monroe, and sheds new light on one of our most enduring icons.

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Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece by Michael Benson (19 Apr 2018)
Celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the film’s release, this is the definitive story of the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey, acclaimed today as one of the greatest films ever made, including the inside account of how director Stanley Kubrick and writer Arthur C. Clarke created this cinematic masterpiece.

Regarded as a masterpiece today, 2001: A Space Odyssey received mixed reviews on its 1968 release. Despite the success of Dr. Strangelove, director Stanley Kubrick wasn’t yet recognized as a great filmmaker, and 2001 was radically innovative, with little dialogue and no strong central character. Although some leading critics slammed the film as incomprehensible and self-indulgent, the public lined up to see it. 2001’s resounding commercial success launched the genre of big-budget science fiction spectaculars. Such directors as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, and James Cameron have acknowledged its profound influence.

Author Michael Benson explains how 2001 was made, telling the story primarily through the two people most responsible for the film, Kubrick and science fiction legend Arthur C. Clarke. Benson interviewed Clarke many times, and has also spoken at length with Kubrick’s widow, Christiane; with visual effects supervisor Doug Trumbull; with Dan Richter, who played 2001’s leading man-ape; and many others.

A colorful nonfiction narrative packed with memorable characters and remarkable incidents, Space Odyssey provides a 360-degree view of this extraordinary work, tracking the film from Kubrick and Clarke’s first meeting in New York in 1964 through its UK production from 1965-1968, during which some of the most complex sets ever made were merged with visual effects so innovative that they scarcely seem dated today. A concluding chapter examines the film’s legacy as it grew into it current justifiably exalted status.

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