An intelligent but severely flawed look at Anglophone films set in Africa from the silent era to the present. Cameron (Our Jo, or the Chronicle of a Coming Man, 1974, etc.) notes that the Africa of American, British, and South African films bears little or no resemblance to the real place. Instead, it is a locus for the projection of mostly 19th-century attitudes toward the continent, often racist and imperialist. In his introductory remarks, the author promises that this book will move beyond the rather mechanistic dismissal of such films as pure-and- simple vehicles of racist ideology. He wants to examine the roles of gender and class in the films and how political and historical realities inflected their racial politics. He traces the influence of authors H. Rider Haggard (Solomon's Mines) and Edgar Rice Burroughs (creator of Tarzan), showing how filmmakers revamped the more overtly offensive elements of the books. Much of the rest of this volume is occupied with the development of various character archetypes in the films under examination. Cameron is a sardonic, witty writer and has obviously spent incalculable hours looking at films that few have seen since their original release. However, the book offers a narrative-based aesthetic that is ultimately as mechanistic and schematic as the simple-minded ``anti-racism'' that he calls into question. The book has little visual analysis, little recognition of the role of the director in many of the films under discussion. Moreover, his distinction between British and American films begins to break down as international cofinancing becomes the rule for English films. Is Mountains of the Moon, directed by Bob Rafelson, really a British film? Is Cry Freedom!, directed by Sir Richard Attenborough, an American one? An entertaining read, and not without the virtues of humor and smarts, but an ultimately disappointing volume on an underexamined subject.
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").
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)