Wednesday, May 24, 2017

2017 Summer Reading Challenge

It's that time of year again! Break out your best sunglasses. Pour yourself a tall glass of iced tea. Find a sunny spot and get reading.

I'm proud to announce the 5th annual Summer Reading Challenge. This is a great opportunity to dust off those classic film books you've been collecting and to start absorbing all their wonderful content. The challenge is to read 6 books over the summer which averages to 2 books a month. If you don't think you can read 6 in that time span I encourage you to sign-up anyways! Those who read 6 will be eligible for the final prize but you can still participate with fewer books. 1 is better than none.

Make sure you bookmark the official page of the Summer Reading Challenge. You'll find a link conveniently placed in the top navigation bar for easy reference. I'll have some fun prompts too as the challenge progresses. If you have any fun ideas let me know!

Here are the details:

2017 Summer Reading Challenge

Sign up for the challenge here.
Read a classic film book
Write a review and post it on your Blog, Instagram or Goodreads profile
Submit your review link here.
Repeat until you have read and reviewed 6 books!
Review 6 and be automatically entered to win a prize.

Challenge runs from June 1st until September 15th, 2017. Sign-up before July 15th.

See full details below.

What counts as a classic film book?
  • Biographical book about some from the classic film era. Biography, autobiography, memoir or a collection of interviews or letters all count. Can be about an actor, actress, director or other cast or crew member.
  • Book about films – specific film(s), genre, film-making process, etc.
  • A photography or art book related to classic films, fashion, style or a particular person.
  • Film criticism or analysis
  • 20th century novel that was adapted into a classic film
  • Novel fictionalizing a classic film or an actor/actress from old Hollywood.

You can read one book in each category, 6 books in one category or mix it up. Read a book you’ve never read before or re-read an old favorite. The book can be brand new or long out-of-print. I'm flexible about what constitutes "classic film" and I'll accept anything up until the 1970s. Beyond that, please check with me before submitting your review. If you can't read all 6 that's okay! Try your best. Every book counts.

If you complete all 6 reviews by September 15th you’ll be eligible to win your choice of the following two prizes:
  • One single disc DVD-MOD from Warner Archive, film of your chosing.
  • A surprise grab bag of three new classic film books.
Open internationally!

If you have a blog, feel free to use this button!

Grab button for the 2016 Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge
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Sign-up for the challenge here:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Hollywood Divided by Kevin Brianton

Hollywood Divided
The 1950 Screen Directors Guild Meeting and the Impact of the Blacklist
by Kevin Brianton
University Press of Kentucky
October 2016
Hardcover ISBN: 9780813168920
174 pages

Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's

On October 22, 1950, more than 500 directors met at the Beverly Hills Hotel for a Screen Directors Guild meeting. The topic on hand: Cecil B. DeMille's call for the dismissal of SDG's president Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Many big-name directors including John Huston, John Ford, Rouben Mamoulian and many others would deliver speeches either for or against the recall. This meeting occurred during the thick of the Hollywood backlist era and quotes from the speeches would live on for decades sometimes morphing into different variations. It represented what Kevin Brianton, author of Hollywood Divided, calls "one of the bitterest chapters in American cinema history."

It's easy for us to put the people involved in this meeting into two distinct camps: liberals and conservatives. And depending on your political views these two camps would also carry the label of good people and bad people. It's true that liberals were eyed as potentially dangerous because they were most likely to have ties to Communism. And it's also true that conservatives led the charge to seek and oust industry members who they thought were clearly Communist. However, as Brianton explores in his book, the divide between liberals and conservatives wasn't always very clear. Some directors attending the meeting identified as Republican yet made very liberal movies. Others considered liberal sometimes leaned conservative. On DeMille, Brianton explains "it would seem that his rigid conservative ideology drove him one direction, while his personal afflictions tugged him another way." In this book, Brianton breaks down the different motivations and ideologies of many of the top directors involved in this infamous SDG meeting and we discover that not everyone, even the two big players in all of this DeMille and Mankiewicz were as clear cut in their two political camps as most people like to think.

Brianton's book is incredibly detailed. Everything you could possibly want to know about SDG's 1950 meeting can be found within its pages. Its meticulously researched and told in a very unbiased way. The first part of the book explores the events that lead up to the meeting. The second part breaks down almost minute by minute the events of the gathering. And the third part explores the meeting's legacy and the myths that came out of the oral history of that important moment in film history.

I was interested in learning about DeMille's background and how he lead the charge of many conservative movements in the industry even as early as WWI. Directors Mankiewicz and Ford and their motivations and actions are explored closely as well. I'd love to read some additional books exploring the Hollywood Blacklist. Actor Robert Vaughn wrote a book called Only Victims: A Study of Show Business Blacklisting which I have my eye on. If anyone were to write a book about how films before, during and after the blacklist era both had an effect on the blacklist and were affected by it, that would be a book I'd pick up immediately. If anything this slim volume on one aspect of a dark moment in Hollywood history whet my appetite for more reading.

If you're researching the Hollywood blacklist, Kevin Brianton's Hollywood Divided is a invaluable resource. If you're looking for an overall history of this era, this book would only be a supplement to your reading but still worth your time.

Thank you to University Press of Kentucky for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (8)

Finally it's getting warm here in New England. For me, warmer weather means a lot more time spent outdoors reading. I love sitting on my front porch with a tall glass of iced tea and a good book.

My summer reading challenge will be announced soon. In the meantime, here is a list of new classic film books. Are you new to my list? Here are the details. Publication dates range from May to September 2017 and these dates are subject to change. Books include biographies, memoirs, scholarly texts, coffee table books and more from a variety of publishers. Links lead either to Goodreads or to shopping pages where you can buy the book directly. Using my buy links helps support this site. Thank you!

by Peter Turner
176 pages – May 2017

by Brian Solomon
Applause Theatre & Cinema Books
400 pages – May 2017

Hollywood Hellraisers
The Wild Lives and Fast Times of Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty, and Jack Nicholson
Skyhorse Publishing
336 pages – May 2017

by Therese Grisham, Julie Grossman
Rutgers University Press
264 pages – May 2017

by Editors of the Official John Wayne Magazine
Media Lab Books
156 pages – May 2017

by Kirk Douglas and Anne Douglas
Running Press
221 pages – May 2017

by Gabriel Hershman
The History Press
288 pages – May 2017

The Life and Career of Ruby Keeler
by Ed Harbur
BearManor Media
May 2017

by Thomas S. Hischak
Rowman & Littlefield
368 pages – June 2017

Dance and the African Diaspora
by Joanna Dee Das
Oxford University Press
288 pages – June 2017

by Rob Backer
Applause Theatre & Cinema Books
360 pages – June 2017

Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper, and the Making of a Classic
by Richard Sandomir
Hachette Books
304 pages – June 2017

The Salvation of an American Icon
by Greg Laurie & Marshall Terrill
American Icon Press
220 pages – June 2017

by Kendra Bean & Anthony Uzarowski
Running Press
272 pages – July 2017

Essays on Frontier Fixtures of the American Western
267 pages – July 2017

by Michael Owen
Chicago Review Press
336 pages – July 2017

by Tim Hanley
Chicago Review Press
256 pages – July 2017

by Guy Barefoot
Wallflower Press
144 pages – July 2017

Hans Hamer
208 pages – July 2017

The Past, Present And Future Of Women Working In Film
Alicia Malone
236 pages – August 2017

David Thomson
Yale University Press
232 pages – August 2017

Stefan Solomon
University of Georgia Press
320 pages – August 2017

Jeremy Black
Rowman and Littlefield
208 pages – August 2017

by Douglass K. Daniel
University Press of Kentucky
400 pages – September 2017
Amazon – Barnes and Noble – Powells

by Eugenia Paulicelli, Drake Stutesman, Louise Wallenberg
Indiana University
304 pages – September 2017

by Susan Pack
520 pages – September 2017

Life Lessons From the Fairest Lady of All
by Victoria Loustalot
Lyons Press
208 pages – September 2017

by Kathryn Sermak and Danelle Morton
Hachette Books
304 pages – September 2017

by Cindy De La Hoz
Running Press
288 pages – September 2017

Here are my previous round-ups :

New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (1)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (2)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (3)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (4)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (5)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (6)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (7)

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