Released earlier this month, The Real James Dean: Intimate Memories from Those Who Knew Him Best is a collection of previously published articles written by Dean’s family, friends, co-workers and professional contemporaries, in other words, by those who really knew the rebel icon. Many of the articles have been unavailable since they were first published, some as far back as more than sixty years ago. They cover his entire short life from his childhood days in Indiana until his untimely death on September 30, 1955 at the age of twenty-four. Edited by Peter. L. Winkler (Dennis Hopper: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel) the book reveals an individual of complexity, admired by some and despised by others, but always fascinating. Continue reading
Jacqueline Lynch, author Ann Blyth: Actress, Singer, Star and many other books, as well an ace blogger at Another Old Movie Blog reviewed my book, Lessons in the Dark. There is also an interview. Check it out at the link below.
Except for his best friend, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks was the biggest and best known superstar of silent films. He basically established the swashbuckler sub-genre with films like The Mark of Zorro, The Thief of Bagdad, The Three Musketeers and Robin Hood. Before Errol Flynn, before Tyrone Power ever picked up a sword, Fairbanks and his acrobatic style brought new adventures and thrills to early film audiences. Continue reading
Woody Allen: Reel to Real is a new e-book from Take2 Publishing. Written by Alex Sheremet, the author examines, in-depth, the Woodsman’s complete film career, right from its earliest days to the present. He examines, not only Woody’s directed films, but those he had a role in as an actor. The book is the most far-reaching analysis of Allen’s career so far. Continue reading
The Hollywood Blacklist was at its height in the mid-50’s. Writers, directors and actors were all scrutinized for any sign of “un-American” activity, real or imagined. It was a dark time when people could not talk freely, express a point of view, living in fear that they could lose their livelihood. Julian David Stone’s new novel, “The Strange Birth, Short life and Sudden Death of Justice Girl” takes us back to those dark days in a wild ride that is both frightening and funny.
The time is 1955, live TV is the order of the day and the center of it all is in New York. TV writer Jonny Dirby is about to be fired by the network because he won’t sign a loyalty oath and is quickly branded a commie. As a final act of revenge against the network he writes a last minute new character into the script that he believes will ruin the show he use to work on. But it backfires and instead ignites an explosion of audience excitement giving birth to super heroine Justice Girl, a sort of female version of Superman.
Have you ever wished you could be a fly on the wall of a brilliant conversationalist, a raconteur, an artist who freely speaks out on just about everyone and everything in his world? That’s just what readers of the new book, My Lunches with Orson: Conversation Between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles, get to do. Yes, it’s the OrsonWelles, the man who made what many consider the greatest film ever made. Welles, of course, was also a respected actor, though he sold his services in many bad films for the money to make his own. Welles also indulged in pushing second rate products in ads like Paul Masson wine and would pop up on talk shows every other week. He was a man of taste and contradiction.
The book compiles a series of conversations recorded during the last years of Welles fascinating life. The original tapes remained “lost” for years until editor, Peter Biskind (Easy Riders, Raging Bulls; Down and Dirty Pictures), urged independent filmmaker Henry Jaglom to have them transcribed. What’s revealed is a fascinating, paradox study of a cinematic genius who knew even in his final years that he was better and brighter than just about anyone else in town. Continue reading
I have always had a thing for reading interviews with artists whether they are writers, painters, photographers, actors or filmmakers. Over the years, there has been a long list of interview books with filmmakers I have indulged in. One of the first was Joseph Gelmis’ “The Film Director as Superstar.” Since then there have been plenty others, “The Directors Event,” The Celluloid Muse,” Andrew Sarris’ “Interview with Film Directors” and Leonard Maltin’s “The Art of the Cinematographer” to name a few. Add to this Robert K. Elder’s “The Best Film You’ve Never Seen” where the author/interviewer gives 35 film directors the opportunity to rave on about forgotten gems that influenced them as filmmakers. While I may not agree all these films are forgotten (Sweet Charity?), on the whole, the selections are intriguing. Even when the films themselves are not very good, the directors enthusiasm and descriptive explanations make you want to give them another look. A telling example is Jonathan Levine’s choice of “Can’t Stop the Music.” Levine, director of “50/50” and “Warm Bodies,” explains, “it’s like, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ if you replaced the talented musician’s with the Village People and a coherent script with this movie.” Levine’s fondness for the film comes through clearly despite his knowing, and the readers, that this film is not going to give “Vertigo” a run for the top spot on Sight and Sound’s next list of best films of all time. Continue reading