Literate, frank, and sometimes graphic—another essential volume from an essential writer.



A veteran film critic and historian escorts us through cinema history to examine our sexual attitudes and appetites glowing in the dark.

In his latest book, Thomson, the author and editor of more than 20 books about film and TV (Television: A Biography, 2016, etc.), puts on display an array of his virtues as a writer: clear, precise language; vast knowledge of his subject (from books, screens, interviews, and friendships); an open sense of humor; and attitude. Though film history is the author’s principal interest here—and how the movies have affected our ideas about love and sex—he comments at times on contemporary issues, as well, including sexual harassment (Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, and others) and the current occupant of the White House, whose rise to power he calls “grotesque.” As usual, Thomson pulls no punches and takes no shortcuts. His technique is to focus on specific, often iconic films—the creators, casts, and others involved—and to show how they have influenced the viewing public and the culture at large. Throughout, the author is a genial guide as he moves through the films and personalities, including, among dozens of others, Rudolph Valentino, Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Jean Harlow, Tony Curtis, Jude Law, and Nicole Kidman. Thomson explores not just the on-screen sexuality of his principals, but also their off-screen, “real” sexual identities. We learn a lot, for example, about who was gay, or possibly gay, and who was bisexual. We also see a lot of Weinstein-ian behavior that prevailed long before #MeToo: director Nicholas Ray having sex with the 16-year-old Natalie Wood; other dominant male figures—straight and gay—taking sexual advantage of their power. However, the author also reminds us that viewers are not innocent: We sit in the dark, watching, imagining, and enjoying the sex (he confesses to a number of his own youthful passions for film stars).

Literate, frank, and sometimes graphic—another essential volume from an essential writer.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-101-94699-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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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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