Harvey’s meticulously close reading of movies illuminatingly analyzes both the “controlling sensibility” of stars and the...

READ REVIEW

WATCHING THEM BE

STAR PRESENCE ON THE SCREEN FROM GARBO TO BALTHAZAR

A movie critic considers the mystery of star power.

Playwright and essayist Harvey (Emeritus, Film and Literature/SUNY, Stony Brook; Movie Love in the Fifties, 2001, etc.) takes his title from James Baldwin’s observation about movie stars: “One does not go to see them act; one goes to watch them be.” A star’s personality, the author contends, transcends particular performances to generate “enforced intimacy” with the viewer. “A screen star,” he writes, “generally appropriates her role rather than disappearing into it (as an ordinary actor might do).” Greta Garbo, for example, “offered something that approached sublimity,” which emerged even in the “dead weight” of a movie like Anna Karenina (1935). Ingrid Bergman shone like “a goddess” even when miscast, “because it’s her more than the character…that you respond to.” Beginning with stars of the 1930s and ’40s, Harvey analyzes performances by Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis, John Wayne, Bergman and Charles Laughton. In a section on “realists,” he turns to Robert De Niro, notably his role as Noodles in Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America (1984); performances by Lily Tomlin and Ronee Blakley in Robert Altman’s Nashville (1975); and Pam Grier, the raunchy heroine of Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown (1997). Harvey also looks at directors such as Jean-Luc Godard, whose masterful close-ups celebrated star quality, and Carl Theodor Dreyer, “arguably the preeminent ‘religious’ filmmaker of our modern cinema time.” He cites Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), in which Maria Falconetti had an “overwhelming star turn” as Joan. “There is something religious about the movie experience,” the author writes, and he ends his film journey with a worshipful exegesis of Robert Bresson’s Balthazar (1966), in which the star is a donkey.

Harvey’s meticulously close reading of movies illuminatingly analyzes both the “controlling sensibility” of stars and the viewer’s process of “intense watching.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-571-21197-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more