This is an often fascinating slice of Hollywood history, although it is geared primarily to serious film buffs.

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FILM CRAZY

INTERVIEWS WITH HOLLYWOOD LEGENDS

The “legends” interviewed by film historian and biographer McGilligan (Fritz Lang, 1997, etc.) are mostly directors whose careers date back to the silent movie days. His anthology brings together a dozen pieces published during the 1970s.

By the time McGilligan, often accompanied by a co-interviewer, caught up with the subjects, most were in their 80s. Never intrusive, the journalists asked just enough questions to kickstart reminiscences. Raoul Walsh recollects how Humphrey Bogart was cast in High Sierra only after George Raft turned it down because he superstitiously didn’t want to die in the end. Clarence Brown talks about Greta Garbo (he was her favorite director) and an 11-year-old actress named Elizabeth Taylor. The one connecting thread among them (and René Clair, George Stevens, actress-turned-director Ida Lupino, and William Wellman) is the happenstance that brought them to their profession. Joel McCrea provides an actor’s view of other legendary directors such as King Vidor and William Wyler. Sheridan Gibney and Dore Shary provide two of the livelier stories: Gibney, a screenwriter who thought of himself mainly as a playwright, became embroiled in the difficulties of the Screen Writers Guild during the 1940s, while Schary, who became a studio executive, recalls his screenwriting days as his happiest. As René Clair likens films to sparkling water to explain why a film can never affect audiences the same way years after it was produced, so McGilligan’s anthology is more archival than immediate. The filmography and introductory essay that introduce each section make for a pleasing format, although the overall style is sometimes distractingly inconsistent. The interview with Ronald Reagan during his 1976 primary campaign seems to belong in another book. The concluding interview with Alfred Hitchcock smacks of promotion for the author’s forthcoming biography.

This is an often fascinating slice of Hollywood history, although it is geared primarily to serious film buffs.

Pub Date: July 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-312-26131-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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SLEEPERS

An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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