A collection of essays by one of the world's great filmmakers, dating back to his early days as a film buff. The late Satyajit Ray, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1991, was easily the finest director ever produced by the endlessly prolific Indian film industry. Unlike the majority of his colleagues, he worked in Bengali rather than Hindi (the dominant language of his country), and he made quietly intelligent, liberal humanist films rather than raucous four-hour musicals, the popular staple. This collection of his occasional writings on Indian and foreign films, published in India in 1976, reflects his humanist concerns. In the course of such essays as ``What Is Wrong with Indian Films?'' and ``The Odds Against Us,'' he repeatedly argues for a cinema about personal problems and large issues, a cinema that is perhaps a little too content-based for the tastes of many critics. The pieces, which date from 1948 to 1974, include several lovely reminiscences and journal excerpts from his filmmaking days; in fact, the best material describes working and traveling at home and abroad. Unfortunately, the book and film reviews that make up the bulk of the volume are disappointingly ordinary; he has little new to say about Akira Kurosawa, John Ford, or the other directors he admires. On occasion, Ray will rise up in a manifesto-like tone, urging Indian filmmakers to draw on their own social reality rather than following foreign models, however admirable. At those moments, his prose catches fire again. Rather than issuing this collection of often indifferent material, Hyperion would have done a greater service to Ray's memory by publishing more of his working journals or reminiscences.
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").
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)