Tediously written and sloppy—barely an also-ran for any film buff's shelf. (49 film stills)

OSCAR FEVER

THE HISTORY AND POLITICS OF THE ACADEMY AWARDS

A revised and updated version of And the Winner Is . . . (1987) provides a decidedly less-than-stellar overview of Hollywood’s annual exercise in tackiness and self-congratulation.

Levy (Cinema of Outsiders, 1999, etc.), senior film critic for Variety, identifies the motive behind the founding of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in 1927 as a desire to establish the film industry “as a respectable, legitimate institution,” an ambition that has borne fruit in the Academy Awards: “part variety show, part news event, part horse race, part fashion display—and all promotion.” In theory, he has a subject of such intrinsic interest that simply presenting nuggets of trivia (e.g., that Ben-Hur was the first remake ever to win Best Picture) is a sure-fire winner. Unfortunately, his narrative reads like a collection of index cards endlessly reshuffled into different topics, such as early and late recognition of nominees, types of roles most associated with Oscar winners, and the award’s impact on winners. Much of this information will not surprise Oscar junkies. What will surprise them are some of Levy’s “facts” about nominated films: that Anatomy of a Murder hinges on the alleged rape of Lee Remick by a black tavern owner; that Blanche DuBois of A Streetcar Named Desire is a “repressed” Southern belle; and that Forrest Whitaker (rather than Stephen Rea) is shocked by Jaye Davidson’s real gender in The Crying Game. Levy also displays a tin ear for such nuances of language as correct word usage, noting for example that Nurse Ratched of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is “indoctrinary” when he means “doctrinaire.” At times, he produces what can only be viewed as unintentional howlers. Does he really think that Mildred Pierce gave Joan Crawford “a perfect role that captured the essence of her offscreen life”? Christina Crawford might beg to differ.

Tediously written and sloppy—barely an also-ran for any film buff's shelf. (49 film stills)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2001

ISBN: 0-8264-1284-X

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Continuum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2001

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

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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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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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