No one sees films quite the way Field does. An engineer’s report on film construction and the view of an original thinker...




The master teacher of screenplay writing charts his Alger-like rise in the film world and reveals himself to be a true Hollywood character.

The story begins at Field’s mother’s deathbed, where Field is beseeched to become a “professional person.” He tries dental school but ends up reading for a play directed by Jean Renoir, who sends him to the film program at UCLA. There, surrounded by students like Coppola, he watches Citizen Kane and begins developing his structural film analysis. Later, at Wolper Productions and Cinemobile Systems, he researches movie history and reads thousands of scripts in an attempt to determine how movies work. Eventually, while soaking in a hot tub, pondering Three Days of the Condor, he defines a screenplay’s dramatic structure: “a linear arrangement of related incidents, episodes or events leading to dramatic resolution.” To help a foundering screenwriting class, Field watches Chinatown and Manhattan and devises the idea of a “middle point” in Act II that turns a screenplay into two manageable 60-page units of dramatic action. More lessons follow—on bookends, flashbacks, and the whammo, which Field intuits while trying to explain the script of Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. In addition, there are descriptions of the business—pitches, briefs, producers who don’t read—and always enlightening friendships, like “hanging out with [Sam] Peckinpah while he was writing The Wild Bunch.” Field never takes himself or his writing too seriously. He reveals his early failings at teaching, and although he quotes Fitzgerald, he allows his writing to remain resolutely informal: “Discipline had always been a biggie for me.” He is serious about movies, however—moved whenever he sees a good film “to take it apart and see how and why it works.”

No one sees films quite the way Field does. An engineer’s report on film construction and the view of an original thinker worth appreciating.

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2001

ISBN: 0-440-50849-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dell

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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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