WHO THE DEVIL MADE IT by Peter Bogdanovich


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 This massive collection of lengthy, in-depth conversations with 16 of Hollywood's greatest directors is a film buff's delight. Before he became a director in the late 1960s, Bogdanovich (The Killing of the Unicorn, 1984, etc.) enjoyed a notable career in film criticism. He ceaselessly promoted American film's neglected achievements and sought out the directors he admired for interviews. Some of these interviews were first published in the '60s. Many more, compiled over the course of more than a decade, are previously unpublished. Bogdanovich has a first-rate understanding of the difficult and elusive craft of directing. Among the accomplished and diverse figures included here are Robert Aldrich, George Cukor, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, Sidney Lumet, Otto Preminger, Don Siegel, Josef von Sternberg, and Raoul Walsh. As becomes clear in the course of these interviews, most of them learned their craft from the ground up in the wildly innovative days of silent film. They explain to Bogdanovich how they gradually learned to fight for and preserve their individual styles in a studio system that increasingly viewed movies as product and art as an irritant. If there is one thing that all of these men held in common, it was a belief in the primacy of the image. They were always trying to tell their stories in a highly individual visual style so that, as one producer said to director Joseph Lewis, ``every foot of film has your signature on it.'' While there are plenty of revealing anecdotes and thorough discussions of movies and stars, the level of detail here can be daunting. Elaborate dissections of how shots were set up and theories of lighting will delight cinephiles but may be a little too much for the average moviegoer. A fine achievement that helps illuminate the art and craft of some remarkable directors. (62 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-679-44706-7
Page count: 832pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1997


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