A tremendously welcoming survey of modern movie classics.




A master gives a guided tour of Hollywood films in the second half of the 20th century.

Legendary actor and director Reiner (Alive at Ninety-Five, 2017, etc.) begins the second of his captivating two-volume pictorial memoir in 1950, when he joined Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca on the TV series Your Show of Shows. The author continues through the highlights of modern Hollywood history, closing out in the 2010s with films like The Wolf of Wall Street, The King’s Speech, and Ocean’s Eight, in which Reiner reprises the cameo role of Saul Bloom he originated in the 2001 George Clooney remake of Ocean’s Eleven. As in the previous volume, the author here reverses the usual pattern of memoirs, presenting page after page of set photographs and striking movie posters and adding only minimal text comments, a feat of restraint that becomes all the more remarkable when his tour reaches classic films he directed, like That Old Feeling, The Jerk, and Oh, God! As he approaches the rawer and raunchier topicality of modern movies (including Blazing Saddles, the hilarious 1974 comedy directed by his frequent collaborator Mel Brooks), he refers to his own favorite contention: “Any sexy, dirty, racist or offensive joke is totally acceptable as long as it’s funnier than it is dirty, sexy, racist or offensive.” And he allows himself the occasional nod to industry scandal, as in the case of Sunset Boulevard: “On screen, Gloria Swanson played a vixen and off screen, she was a bit of a vixen, having an ongoing affair with the scion of one of America’s wealthiest and most prestigious families.” Throughout the book, there’s a tone of enthusiastic invitation, an undimmed sense of exploration (“If you haven’t seen the documentaries on the careers of Rita Moreno and Chita Rivera, get copies of them, invite some friends over and you’ll thank me”). The cumulative effect should convince readers that they are in the presence of one of the world’s oldest—and most passionate—film geeks.

A tremendously welcoming survey of modern movie classics.

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9995182-1-2

Page Count: 421

Publisher: Random Content Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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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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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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