Monday, July 25, 2016

Into the Dark by Mark A. Vieira

Into the Dark by Mark A. Vieira
Into the Dark: The Hidden World of Film Noir, 1941-1950
by Mark A. Vieira
336 pages - 9780762455232
May 2016
Running Press and TCM
Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's


“When I walk onto a set, I never have the slightest idea what I’m going to shoot. Then I sit in a chair for a few minutes and I see it all before me.” – Edmund Goulding

If you’re looking for a book on film noir, your options are endless. Much has been written about this beloved and still impossible to nail down genre of film. When author Mark A. Vieira sought out to create Into the Dark: The Hidden World of Film Noir 1941-1950 he needed a different approach. This book is not a primer on film noir nor is it a scholary work. It isn’t even your standard coffee table book. It’s a pictorial history told through archival documents. The author is renowned as a great researcher with access to materials, documents and photographs that few others have. Into the Dark is your armchair as you dig through the film noir archives alongside Vieira.

Before you even consider picking up this book, it’s important you know what’s contained inside and how it’s structured. If you don’t have a full appreciation for this you’ll be disappointed. The book explores a wide variety of films noir starting with Citizen Kane (1941) and ending with Sunset Blvd. (1950). All the major film noir classics Out of the Past (1947), Gun Crazy (1950), The Asphalt Jungle (1950), Murder My Sweet (1944), Double Indemnity (1944), Laura (1944), Mildred Pierce (1945), etc. and lesser known gems as well make up the space in between. Some films get one spread (2 pages) and some get up to four spreads (8 pages). There are large black-and-white publicity stills and a designed layout for the archival information. Each section will include some or all of the following:

Film name and credits
One line description of plot
Production quotes
Reviews
Box Office Numbers
Letters from Regional Theaters
Artist Comments
Detailed photo captions
Asides and explanations from the author

Below is what the layout for Out of the Past (1947) looks like:








The films are presented chronologically and divided into different time periods. Each of these sections is introduced with some more archival documentation which serves to demonstrate how the genre was evolving over time.

I remember as a little girl I once had a book about the presidents of the United States. It was a reference guide from Funk & Wagnalls and was laid out in a similar way to Into the Dark. Each president had his own section with his official presidential portrait, some stats, some photographs/paintings and one article from the archives. It was not a true reference book about presidents in that it didn’t give me a sense of the president’s life and career or the milestones of his presidency. The archival material was a mixed bag with some interesting details and some fluff. Woodrow Wilson’s section included his wedding menu. I wanted more out of that book but in those pre-internet days this was all I had. Eventually I got a full encyclopedia set and could look up the presidents individually and was content with that. Into the Dark reminds me of that book but this time I was more prepared. I could appreciate it for what it was not what I wanted it to be. And lucky for me this book was richer in contextual and relevant detail.

Into the Dark is an excellent pictorial history of film noir with the context that only archival documents can give. While we love these films noir now, many were neglected back in the day. We see some shocking reactions from theater owners and from film critics (Bosley Crowther of The New York Times is heavily referenced in the book). We also see that many of these films returned a nice profit and went on to have a better appreciation in the decades that would follow. For example, my favorite film noir Out of the Past (1947) wasn’t fully appreciated until the 1970s when repertory houses started showing the film regularly. There was little publicity for it the year it came out because Dore Schary, who recently arrived at RKO, decided to only focus on films he’d been working on. There are lots of great trivia bits to be gathered from the book. For example Raymond Chandler’s Farewell My Lovely was adapted into Murder My Sweet (1944) starring Dick Powell because the book title would have confused patrons expecting another Powell musical. Crossfire (1947)’s original plot dealt with homophobia but it was changed to anti-Semitism for the film. Impact (1949) included product placement from brands like Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer and Coca-Cola. Ever watch The Big Sleep (1947) and wonder what the heck was going on? After they finished filming they added more Lauren Bacall scenes which threw off the plot. Nuggets of information like these are why I read classic film books.

There are some problems with Into the Dark. There are a handful of grammatical errors and typesetting flaws. These could have easily been caught if the publisher took more care with copyediting and proofreading. The book itself is gorgeous but the signatures pulled away from the spine as I read it. Stronger glue or better overall binding would have helped hold the heavy pages to the cover a lot better. Also the archival documents can often be frustrating to read. Your beloved classic can be dampened by a ornery theater owner complaints (one called In a Lonely Place “stilted corn”). I much preferred reading the photo captions, asides, artist comments and production quotes which gave more background on the films, actors and actresses. Bosley Crowther and the various film critic insights were interesting to read but also showed how these films were not fully appreciated during their time.

When I originally discussed Into the Dark I pegged it as a book for film noir newbies. That is not the case. It’s really for film noir enthusiasts who want to study their favorite films in a new and different way. The book gets a stamp of approval from the Czar of Noir Eddie Muller of the Film Noir Foundation who contributed a preface.

I bought this book from Larry Edmunds Bookshop at the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival. Read more details on how I got to meet author Mark A. Vieira here.

Mark A. Vieira


This is my second review for the 2016 Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge.




Sunday, July 17, 2016

2016 Summer Reading Challenge - First Round-Up

Silents and Talkies - Summer Reading Photo
Arrietty checks out Kate's summer reading stack. Photo courtesy of Silents and Talkies
I'm delightfully overwhelmed by the response to this year's classic film summer reading challenge. Forty people have signed up and we have a wealth of reviews already. Thanks so much to everyone who has participated so far.

Check out what the participants have been reading:

Bernardo of The Movie Rat
Character Actors in Horror and Science Fiction Films, 1930-1960 by Laurence Raw

Christina S.
Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn
Charles Walters: The Director Who Made Hollywood Dance by Brent Phillips
Women I've Undressed by Orry-Kelly
Edmund Goulding's Dark Victory: Hollywood's Genius Bad Boy by Matthew Kennedy
Alma Rubens, Silent Snowbird: Her Complete 1930 Memoir by Alma Rubens

Erin B.
Bendigo Art Gallery & Twentieth Century Fox Present Marilyn Monroe
Natalie Wood by Rebecca Sullivan
Double Feature by Terence Stamp

Grezilda of Doesn't She Ramble
Åke Lindman: Åke ja hänen maailmansa
Divided Heaven by Christa Wolf

Keisha
Audrey and Givenchy: A Fashion Love Affair by Cindy de la Hoz

Java's Journey
You Must Remember This by Robert Wagner

Jennifer T. of Always Classic
A Rose for Mrs. Miniver: The Life of Greer Garson by Michael Troyan

Kate Gabrielle of Silents and Talkies
City Lights (BFI) by Charles Maland
More about her summer reading books as seen in the photo above.

Laura of Laura's Miscellaneous Musings
Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays: 1920-1970 by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory

Lindsey of The Motion Pictures
Scarlett O'Hara's Younger Sister by Evelyn Keyes
Laughing the Dark by Ted Sennett

Marya G.
Zachary Scott: Hollywood's Sophisticated Cad by Ronald L. Davis
Joan Crawford by Stephen Harvey
Butterfield 8 by John O'Hara

Phyllis of Phyllis Loves Classic Movies
Hollywood Legends as Fashion Icons by Patty Fox

Raquel of Out of the Past: A Classic Film Blog
The First King of Hollywood: The Life of Douglas Fairbanks by Tracey Goessel

Rich of Wide Screen World
The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

Vanessa B.
Garbo: A Portrait by Alexander Walker
Cagney by Cagney
The Cinema Legacy of Frank Sinatra by David Wills
Marlene by C.W. Gortner

If I missed your review, make sure you added it to the review form. Full details are on the challenge home page.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (6)

Publishers keep cranking out new classic film books and there are plenty coming out this summer. I just picked up the reissue of Olivia de Havilland's memoir Every Frenchman Has One and I have my eye on the new book about Twentieth Century Fox. There are plenty more new books to keep an eye out for. Here is my new round-up with publication dates ranging from May to September 2016.
Are you new to my list? Here are the details. Links go to Goodreads and this time I've added buy links. Books include biographies, memoirs, scholary texts, coffee table books and more from a variety of publishers. All publication dates are subject to change.

Make sure you let me know in the comments section below which of these books interesting and what you're reading now!

Every Frenchman Has One by Olivia de Havilland

Reissue for the de Havilland Centennial!

by Olivia de Havilland
Crown Archetype
144 pages – Reissue June 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's



by Brian Hannan
McFarland & Company
492 pages – May 2016


by Douglas A. Cunningham and John C. Nelson
Wiley-Blackwell
472 pages – May 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's



by Simon Willmetts
Edinburgh University Press
320 pages – May 2016


by Cynthia J. Miller and A. Bowdoin Van Riper
Rowman and Littlefield Publishers
296 pages – May 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's



by Jennifer Ann Redmond 
BearManor Media 
220 pages – May 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's



by John T. Soister and Henri Nicolella
McFarland & Company
238 pages – June 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's


by Antoine de de Baecque and Noel Herpe
Columbia University Press
608 pages – June 2016
by Kristina Hagman and Elizabeth Kaye
Thomas Dunne Books
272 pages – June 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's



by Harold N. Pomainville
Rowman and Littlefield Publishers
332 pages – June 2016

by Kia Afra
Rowman and Littlefield Publishers
318 pages – June 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's



by Michael Munn
Skyhorse Publishing
336 pages – June 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's



by Charles L. Epting
McFarland and Company
July 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's



by Kathryn Bishop-Sanchez
Vanderbilt University Press
296 pages – July 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's

by Peter Kramer
BFI
112 pages – July 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's

by Chris Darke
BFI
96 pages – July 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's



by Lyndsy Spence
Fantom Films
July 2016



by Sergio Delgado
McFarland and Company
July 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's



by David Kauffman
St. Martin’s Press
304 pages – July 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's



by Scott Tracy Griffin
Titan Books
224 pages – July 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's


by D. A. Miller
University of Chicago Press
208 pages – August 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's



by Mr. Peter L. Winkler and George Stevens Jr.
Chicago Review Press
368 pages – August 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's



by Roberto Curti
McFarland and Company
August 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's



by Tom Williams
Chicago Review Press
384 pages – September 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's



by Roger Ebert, Chaz Ebert and Matt Zoller Seitz
University of Chicago Press
288 pages – September 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's


by Elisabeth Quin & Francois Armanet
Flammarion
264 pages – September 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's


by Scott Allen Nollen
McFarland and Company
September 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's


by Laurence A. Rickels
Wallflower Press
216 pages – September 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's

by Jennifer Bass and Pat Kirkham
Laurence King Publishing
44 pages – September 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's



by Jonathan Baumbach and Miriam Bale
The Critical Press
250 pages – September 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's



Such Mad Fun: Ambition and Glamour in Hollywood's Golden Days
by Robin R. Cutler
View Tree Press
328 pages - September 2016
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble


by Michael Troyan, Stephen X. Sylvester and Jeffrey Thompson
Taylor Trade Publishing
288 pages – September 2016 
Buy: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powell's


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)

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