Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Buyer's Guide: Books for Classic Film Fans

Do you have a classic film fan in your life? Are you wondering what to get that person for Christmas? Sure you could get them a classic film on DVD but that is so predictable. And chances are, they already own it anyways. Instead get them a book. Yes, a book! Books are the classic film fan's darling. They are the perfect accompaniment to all those films they love so dearly. Treat a loved one (or even yourself) to one of these treasured tomes.
by Ernest Borgnine
ISBN: 9780806529417
Citadel Press
August 2008

A charming and approachable autobiography about Ernest Borgnine's long life and acting career. Read my review of it here.

by Marc Eliot
ISBN: 9781400052226
Three Rivers Press
September 2007

Don't listen to those reviewers who panned this. Eliot's biography of the late, great Jimmy Stewart is comprehensive and well-written. You will learn more than you will ever need to know of the man who made "Auw shucks" sexy.

Collectible Coffee Table Books

by Cheryl Crane (daughter of Turner)
ISBN: 9780762433162
Running Press
October 2008

This gorgeous, fully illustrated, over-sized hardcover book will make you want to become a Lana Turner fan, if you're not one already.

The Lost Collection of Ziegfeld Photographer Alfred Cheney Johnston
ISBN: 9780789313812
Universe (Rizzoli)
October 2006

Beautiful sepia photographs of actresses and Ziegfeld girls shot by the reknown photographer Alfrey Cheney Johnston. You'll find Norma Shearer and Louise Brooks amongst others here.
by Peter Kobel
ISBN: 9780316117913
Little, Brown and Company
November 2007

Gorgeous hardcover filled with stills, poster art and photographs from the silent film era. Silent film fans will want to caress this book once they lay their hands on it. It doesn't hurt that the writing is excellent as well.

For the Woman in Your Life

by Frank Miller
ISBN: 9780811863018
Paperback with French Flaps
Chronicle Books
November 2008

The quintessential guide to favorite onscreen couples. Anyone who likes romance, will enjoy this book. Perfect accompaniment for viewing films on Turner Classic Movies. Read my review of it here.

For the Man in Your Life

by Warren G. Harris
ISBN: 9780307237149
Three Rivers Press
October 2005

This is a juicy no holds barred of the life and times of the King of Hollywood, Clark Gable. Gable was truly a man's man and reading about his exploits is just fun. Not for the faint of heart.

For Younger Kids
by Roxanne Orgill
Illustrated by Stephane Jorisch
ISBN: 9780763621216
Candlewick Press
September 2007

Fans of Fred Astaire or even just kids who like to dance, will love this picture book biography of the brother-sister Astaire dancing duo. You can read an interview with the author here.

Written and Illustrated by Scott Nash
ISBN: 9780763639457
Candlewick Press
February 2008

Get the kids interested in Film Noir early with this madcap adventure. Private Eye Tuff Fluff is on the case to find Duckie's missing brain. You can download a fun activity sheet to go along with this book here.

For Older Kids

Written and Illustrated by Brian Selznick
ISBN: 9780439813785
March 2007

A heavily-illustrated tome takes readers on a visual journey following the young orphan Hugo. Very influenced by early French cinema, this is sure to be a hit with young reluctant readers. Won the Caldecott Award for excellence in Children's Book illustration in 2008.

Fiction for Classic Film Lovers
by Winifred Watson
ISBN: 9781906462024
Paperback with French Flaps
Persephone Books
February 2008

It has all the glamour and drama of a classic movie with a more direct and uncensored edge. A must-read! The novel became a major motion picture starring Amy Adams in 2008.

by Jon J Muth
ISBN: 9780810995222
April 2008

Fritz Lang's classic M (1931) comes to life in illustrator Jon J Muth's graphic novel. Read my review of it here.
Just Buy It Okay?

by National Film Registry - Library of Congress
ISBN: 9780789317643
Universe (Rizzoli)
August 2008

I know this isn't a book, but I had to mention it anyways. This is the best Classic Film calendar there is. I buy it religiously every year and have gotten it as a gift. It's a must-have.

by Leonard Maltin
ISBN: 9780452286207
Plume Books
February 2005

This is the OFFICIAL companion for any and all classic film buffs. It's an absolute must. And if your classic film fan already has one, a second back-up copy will prove to be infinitely useful.

Support the book industry. Buy books as presents this Christmas. And support your local independent bookstore. All links above are to the well-known and respected independent Powell's Books.


  1. Raquel,
    I go for the Jazz Age Beauties and Silent Movies by Kobel.
    Where do I check out?


  2. I read the Jimmy Stewart biography and thought it was pretty good. The part that cracked me up was the part of Jimmy and Henry drunk and peeing. hahaha

  3. I own Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide. It's a pretty good resource except I usually go to IMDb because its faster. I bought it off ebay about a year ago and flipped to the inside page to see Leonard Maltin's signature! Don't know if its legit though...

  4. That looks like a great list. Some of those are definitely going on my Christmas list.

  5. I love giving books as Christmas presents!

    My mom's giving me that Leonard Maltin guide...I have his regular 2008 one, but I'm not too wild about it. In fact, I'm not too wild about Maltin in general, but who else writes affordable movie guides??


    The SILENT MOVIES, and the Gable biography would be my two other choices. :)

  6. Raquelle: I've linked your list on today's post. Good job, and I found your picks very helpful.

  7. Jonas - I knew you'd be interested in those!

    Nicole - Oh I remember the part where Jimmy lost his, er um, flower to Ginger Rogers. Hee hee. I'll never forget that.

    Genevieve - IMDB is nice, but I love the little summaries in the Maltin book. They are like amuse bouches that make me hungry for the full meal.

    Princess - Yay!

    Ginger - I'm so glad you like giving books as christmas presents. I do too. It's food for thought.

    CK Dexter - Thanks! I appreciate the link. And yes this is an "exhaustive" list. It took me a quite a while to finish it.


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