An enjoyable bedside companion for cinephiles of a classic bent, as well as amateurs who want to learn a bit more about the...

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FILM ON PAPER

THE INNER LIFE OF MOVIES

Seasoned Time film critic Schickel (Elia Kazan: A Biography, 2005, etc.) devastates a few dozen books about the movie industry, offering his own wittily informative insights in their stead.

Rather than straightforward reviews, this loose collection features detailed mini-essays (most originally published in the Los Angeles Times Book Review) offering pithy, opinionated commentary on the state of film criticism and brief lectures in movie history, each about 1,300 words long. Schickel laments two particularly unsuccessful kinds of movie books: laudatory biographies written by starry-eyed fans posing as critics or historians, which offer no illuminating analysis of the celebrity lives they chronicle; and overly dry, scholarly works by writers he’s not convinced actually watch the movies they dissect. In his little sermons, Schickel tries to fill in these gaps, bemoaning the authors’ foibles and sparing no one’s feelings as he elaborates on what they should have said and known. His reiteration of favorite themes throughout—the contemporary dearth of knowledgeable, sensitive film writers and the rise of the auteur theory—allows his critical animus to shine through, unencumbered by the pesky footnotes that accompany larger works of film criticism. He’s generous to the few gems he finds, among them Andrew Sarris’s “You Ain’t Heard Nothin’ Yet”: The American Talking Film History and Memory 1927–1949 (1998) and Alexander Mackendrick’s On Film-making: An Introduction to the Craft of the Director (2004). Here, Schickel confines himself to the more restrictive book-review format to explore their merits, even though it provides him less scope for airing his own theories.

An enjoyable bedside companion for cinephiles of a classic bent, as well as amateurs who want to learn a bit more about the history of film without lugging home a library.

Pub Date: April 4, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-56663-759-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Ivan Dee/Rowman & Littlefield

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2008

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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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