While this book fills a niche in the market and provides admirable coverage, it lacks the human insight or delight for the...

SHOTS IN THE MIRROR

CRIME FILMS AND SOCIETY

A sprawling but shortsighted survey of 300 crime films that details sub-genres and character types but offers limited aesthetic analysis and little appreciation for the industry.

After an acceptable introduction positing the basic truth that crime films both `reflect our ideas about fundamental . . . issues` and `shape the ways we think about [them],` Rafter (Law, Policy, and Society Program/Northeastern Univ.) hands the first chapter of her study to doctoral candidate Drew Todd. It's a mistake, because Todd's `The History of Crime Films` undercuts authorial command with bland observation and callow generalizations about actors and eras. Worse still are his inaccuracies, such as the contention that film noir was needed to bring `superb craftsmanship and technique` to an American cinematography built on `simpler point-and-shoot methods.` (So much for Freund, Toland, and Howe—all active in the 1930s.) Rafter continues, with a full (if partly problematic) survey of the genre, tracing movie criminology, varieties of crime-movie hero, courtroom and prison films, and the future of the genre, among other subjects. Pleasingly, the book brims with variety—this may be the only film book that cites the protagonists of Falling Down, The Last Seduction, and The Godfather in one sentence. But while many of her conclusions about the genre's appealing safety and increasing pessimism are sound, some specific calls raise questions. Dirty Harry Callahan was a department pain, not an `ideal cop`; mid-century courtroom dramas did not necessarily take a `generally uncritical perspective on the judicial system`; action heroes do not always need to examine their dark psyches to gain depth; the homosexual future of The Shawshank Redemption principals is not clear. And must all academics disdain Hollywood and proclaim that independent `critical` films are better (“Roadrunner to the blockbuster's Godzilla,` as Rafter would have it)?

While this book fills a niche in the market and provides admirable coverage, it lacks the human insight or delight for the medium that could make it a transcendent critical work. Warshow still stands alone.

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-19-512982-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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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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