Essential reading for fans of the epochal (and reportedly soon to be remade) movie as well as movie-history and Western...

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THE WILD BUNCH

Muscular study of Sam Peckinpah’s groundbreaking 1969 film, “the last Western.”

Texas journalist, historian, and poet Stratton (Floyd Patterson: The Fighting Life of Boxing’s Invisible Champion, 2012, etc.) charts the evolution of Peckinpah’s classic and perhaps best-known movie at the half-century mark. Peckinpah had had glimmerings of the story years before making it, with a script and cast that grew and changed considerably owing to several influences, not least of them the violent time in which it was finally made. Stratton pulls together big strands of story: the history of the Mexican revolutionary period, Peckinpah’s own fascination with Mexico, the history of U.S.–Mexico relations, the history of moviemaking itself. On the latter, the author draws a straight line from John Ford’s 1939 film, Stagecoach, to The Wild Bunch 30 years later, both for its less-than-virtuous heroes and its paving the way for “a stampede of Western movies with increasingly sophisticated characters and plotlines.” Peckinpah wrote the movie with Lee Marvin in mind as the central figure, Pike Bishop, but Marvin’s agent wasn’t enthusiastic; in any event, Paramount lured Marvin with an unheard-of $1 million fee for another Western, the painfully terrible Paint Your Wagon. Peckinpah and his producer, Stratton reveals through some careful filmic detective work, considered Robert Mitchum, Sterling Hayden, and Charlton Heston before landing on William Holden, “a first-rate actor but also a deeply troubled man, a real-life killer himself.” Holden wasn’t the easiest actor to work with, but with Robert Ryan, who had “a deeply lined face that seemed to be cut from boot leather,” he anchored what Stratton doesn’t hesitate to brand “a love affair between two men”—a “bromance," that is, one that broadened to include such players as Ernest Borgnine, L.Q. Jones, Strother Martin, Jaime Sánchez, and Ben Johnson. And a blood-soaked, protest-inducing bromance at that….

Essential reading for fans of the epochal (and reportedly soon to be remade) movie as well as movie-history and Western buffs generally.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63286-212-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

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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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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