A wonderful trip down movie Memory Lane.

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ALIVE AT NINETY-FIVE

RECALLING MOVIES I LOVE

A legendary actor and director reflects on the innumerable films he watched during his first decades as an audience member.

This first book in Reiner’s (Tell Me a Silly Story, 2010, etc.) two-volume pictorial memoir is essentially an opulently produced memory album commemorating many of the earliest movies he watched in a lifetime devoted to film, with the selections dating from the early 20th century to 1950. The book is heavy and generously oversized, and as memoirs go, it takes the unconventional approach of being 90 percent visual: page after page of large period photographs and gorgeous full-color posters accompanied by minimal text comments from the author along the way. He consistently quotes from reviews of the movies in question, but the draw of the volume remains his own reflections. Some of those reactions are jaundiced (about William Wyler’s 1939 Wuthering Heights, starring Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier, for instance, he grouses: “Fine actors perform in a beautiful love story, but I prefer beautiful love stories where the lovers don’t separate and then die”). And some are winningly idiosyncratic (as when the author presents 1940’s The Mark of Zorro and talks about its famously charismatic star: “Nobody would argue if you said that Tyrone Power was the handsomest leading man of his day and if they did, it’s likely they never saw him in ‘The Mark of Zorro’ ”). A large part of the work’s delight is the way it brings so many of these indelible old movies back into the spotlight, often in touchingly personal tones, as when Reiner mentions 1946’s Stairway to Heaven: “Even though I’m a confirmed atheist I was able to suspend my beliefs so I could enjoy the prospect of climbing the myriad of steps on The Stairway to Heaven so I might, once again, see the deceased members of my beloved family and also my old and dear friends.” The book delivers a series of pleasant surprises, as each film sparks some new memory or quip from a man who’s lived a great deal of Hollywood history himself and frequently recounts meetings with some of the titans of the industry’s golden age.

A wonderful trip down movie Memory Lane.

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9995182-0-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Random Content Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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