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 Many more, compiled over the course of more than a decade, are previously unpublished.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 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-44706-7

Page Count: 832

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1997

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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