A major motion-picture executive tells stories of his work on some of the 20th century’s most famous films.
Picker, a former president of United Artists, was born into a family renowned for its substantial contributions to the film industry. His father worked as chief booker and buyer for the Loew’s New York City theater chain, affording young Picker complete and free access to all movies released in its theaters. After spending his college years studying and working in the film industry, the author joined his uncle, a film executive, at United Artists in 1951. Picker humbly describes his quick ascent from intern to assistant to executive and then describes his experiences on various major films, including stories about industry people, business transactions and production. Throughout, Picker’s passion for movies, and his respect for the artists who create them, is endearingly evident, and he frequently states how thankful he is for his experiences. He even reflects positively, if a little remorsefully, about movies that United Artists didn’t pick up, calling them “the ones that got away,” such as The Graduate (1967) and Planet of the Apes (1968). At times, the abundance of business and financial details may be confusing to readers who aren’t well-versed in film industry jargon. However, most will likely enjoy Picker’s insider stories about the production of such films as Midnight Cowboy (1969), the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night (1964) and the James Bond franchise. His appropriately cinematic tone carries readers through fast-paced, dramatic stories, and his colorful, opinionated descriptions of those he encounters are highly entertaining. Funny anecdotes about such luminaries as Woody Allen, Steve Martin and Ingmar Bergman, for example, provide readers with rare glimpses of these famous figures’ unique personalities.
A thoroughly entertaining look at how artistic visions, strong personalities and business acumen can create great films.