FILMMAKERS ON FILMMAKING, Vols. I & II by American Film Institute

FILMMAKERS ON FILMMAKING, Vols. I & II

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Edited transcripts from American Film Institute seminars through the 1970s--when Institute students threw questions at a distinguished array of directors, actors, producers, and other film-business veterans. In Volume I, the producers are Hal Wallis and the Zanuck/Brown team--who discuss the process from the go-ahead decision (""M*A*S*H was an unqualified big yes. Patton was not a big yes. Patton was a very slow yes"") to marketing. Ingmar Bergman discusses working-with-actors, the differences between theater and film directing; the writer/director team of Billy Wilder & I. A. L. Diamond wittily--if narrowly--puts down recent trends in filmmaking. (""If you ever listen to actors talk, you will not improvise."") A personal Sidney Poitier and a highly craft-oriented Lucille Ball provide contrasting perspectives on acting; James Wong Howe is an eloquent spokesman for cinematography (revealing some impromptu effects for On the Waterfront); composer Leonard Rosenman says ""There's too much music in movies"" (a sentiment echoed by Jerry Goldsmith in Vol. II); the late Verna Fields details the editing of Jaws (""each time I wanted to cut I didn't, so that it would have an anticipatory feeling""); production designer Polly Platt (A Star is Born) and costume designer Anthea Sylbert (Chinatown, Julia) suggest the surprisingly wide scope of their jobs; agent Sue Mengers does the opposite--downplaying her super-powerbroker image. And Volume II offers almost exactly the same variety of professionals (plus a casting director and independent filmmaker Stan Brakhage), with the standout comments coming from screenwriter Robert Towne--who is wry and bitter about the changes forced on Chinatown by executives, producers, and director Roman Polanski. (""I don't mean this unkindly, but I think it was impossible for Roman to come back to Los Angeles and not end his movie with an attractive blonde lady being murdered."") Of the two volumes, Vol. I is a slightly better sampling of nuts-and-bolts savvy--but both collections offer solid, unpretentious insider-views of film craft, with a blessed minimum of blather and celebrity-chat.

Pub Date: Aug. 10th, 1983
ISBN: 8747%266-4
Publisher: Tarcher--dist. by Houghton Mifflin