Thursday, March 17, 2016

New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (5)

Summer is only a few months away. You need to stock up now so you'll have plenty to read on vacation! Need some suggestions? I’ve got you covered with a brand new list of upcoming classic film books. Publication dates range from February to May 2016.

Are you new to my list? Here are the details. Links lead to Goodreads or the publishers' page. Books include biographies, memoirs, scholary texts, coffee table books and more from a variety of publishers. All publication dates are subject to change.

Here are my previous round-ups :

Not to Be Missed: Fifty-Four Favorites from a Lifetime of Film
by Kenneth Turan
368 pages – January 2016

by A.O. Scott
Penguin Press
288 pages – February 2016

by James Bawden and Ron Miller
University Press of Kentucky
424 pages – February 2016

by Joel Grey
Flatiron Books
256 pages – February 2016

by R. Barton Palmer
Rutgers University Press
290 pages – February 2016

by Ben Nussbaum
i5 Press
96 pages – March 2016

by Laura Horak
Rutgers University Press
296 pages – February 2016

by Scott Higgins
Rutgers University Press
232 pages – February 2016

by Mia E. M. Treacey
198 pages – March 2016

by Shirley MacLaine
Atria Books
224 pages – March 2016

by Amanda Ann Klein and R. Barton Palmer
University of Texas Press
366 pages – March 2016

by Richard B. Jewell
University of California Press
296 pages – March 2016

by Miriam J. Petty
University of California Press
312 pages – March 2016

by Cheryl M. Willis
McFarland & Company
March 2016

by Edwin M. Bradley
277 pages - March 2016

by Cindy De La Hoz
Running Press
176 pages – April 2016

by Charles Silver
Museum of Modern Art
256 pages – April 2016

by Vincent Price and Leo Hershfield
Open Road Media
(e-book) 156 pages – April 2016

by Donald Dewey
Rowman and Littlfield Publishers
272 pages – April 2016

by Harlan Lebo
Thomas Dunne Books
384 pages – April 2016

by Graham Tarrant
160 pages – April 2016

by Marty Feldman and Eric Idle
Rare Bird Books
320 pages – April 2016

by Ian Brookes
272 pages – April 2016

by Simon Callow
624 pages – April 2016

by Sean K. Smith
Hatherleigh Press
112 pages – April 2016

by David Bordwell
University of Chicago Press
160 pages – April 2016

by Michael Sheridan and David Harvey
Skyhorse Publishing
276 pages – April 2016

by Nathaniel Crosby and John Strenge
Dey Street Books
224 pages – May 2016

by Jon Solomon
Oxford University Press
640 pages – May 2016

by James S. Williams
SUNY Press
320 pages – May 2016

by Breixo Viejo
Oak Knoll Press
268 pages – May 2016

by Mark A. Vieira
Running Press with TCM
336 pages – May 2016

by Annika Geiger
i5 Press
96 pages – May 2016

by Brian J. Snee
University Press of Kentucky
174 pages – May 2016

by Barry Avrich
ECW Press
400 pages – May 2016

by Tom Smith
Peter Owen Publishers
160 pages – May 2016

by Mick Broderick
Columbia University Press
208 pages – May 2016

by Emilio D’Alessandro and Simon Marsh
Arcade Publishing
384 pages – May 2016

by Jeremy Arnold and Robert Osborne
Running Press with TCM
304 pages – May 2016

by William Paul
Columbia University Press
432 pages – May 2016

Did any of these books catch your eye? Tell me in the comments section below. I'm currently reading Conversations with Classic Film Stars.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Good, the Bad and Me: In My Anecdotage by Eli Wallach

The Good, the Bad, and Me: In My Anecdotage
by Eli Wallach
Mariner Books
320 pages/9 hours, 42 minutes
May 2006

My current enthusiasm for all things audiobooks has me seeking out every classic film related recording on Audible I can find. But that wasn’t enough. After listening to Dick Van Dyke’s audiobook Keep Moving, I wanted to hear more from the stars themselves. There is something very intimate about listening to a famous person tell you their story that you don’t get from just reading their words on the printed page. Having their voices transmitted right into your ear as they tell you story after story is an amplified experience. And for those stars who have shuffled off their mortal coil and left the world of the living, an audiobook recording of their memoir is as close to them as we can get.

Eli Wallach has been a favorite of mine for years. Not only did I admire his talent and devotion to his craft, he always struck me as a genuine and quirky kind of a guy. (Did you know Wallach collected antique clocks? ) Wallach was lovable and charming even when he so effortlessly played villains on screen. In his 2006 memoir The Good, the Bad and Me: In my Anecdotage, Wallach takes us on a journey through his life and career. We start with his early years as a Jewish kid growing up in Brooklyn and we follow him as he finds his calling as an actor, goes to college in Texas, serves in the medical corps during WWII and meets the love of his life Anne Jackson. He even tells us how he learned about the birds and the bees in the most frank yet lovable way. Wallach’s narrative slows as he relates the details of his theater and film work. There is much here about his training as a method actor as well as the differences between acting for theater and acting for film. Wallach loved the immediate gratification of working on stage but was also lured by the rich rewards, fame and money, of film work. He shares lots of behind-the-scenes stories and reflects on his past experience with all the wisdom and self-reflection that comes with living a long life.

Classic film fans will love hearing anecdotes about Wallach’s movie work. He shares a lot of stories about The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) , the film that inspired his memoir’s title, The Misfits (1961), The Magnificent Seven (1960), How to Steal A Million (1966) and his first film Baby Doll (1956) . Audiences will love to hear his stories about notable figures including Marilyn Monroe, Sergio Leone, Clark Gable, Audrey Hepburn, Elia Kazan, Tennessee Williams and more.

Wallach was a charming storyteller and it’s easy to be captivated by him in this book. His voice demonstrated the wear and tear of old age but there is still a magic that comes from listening to the man himself tell his own story. You can almost see the twinkle in his eye as you listen to his words. Besides the many stories about his film work, I was particularly taken with his reflections on his home life. Wallach explains the complexities and challenges that come with being married to an another actor and raising small children. Wallach and Jackson struggled yet found balance in their work and marriage. They highly respected each other’s careers and although Wallach was the bigger star he made sure not to neglect her acting work. Wallach lovingly remembers the births of each of his three children and I particularly love the anecdote of him heating up milk bottles while pretending he was Louis Pasteur.

Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson (source)

Even though I already owned a paperback copy of The Good, the Bad and Me, I’m glad I invested in the audio version. If you enjoy Wallach’s films and appreciate him as a person, listening to this audiobook will be a special treat. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself tearing up when the book is over. And as an added bonus, Anne Jackson makes a small cameo in the recording.

I purchased this book at Audible. It seems to be the only place online where you can find it. The original audiobook recording is most likely out of print.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Doctor, You've Got to be Kidding! (1967)

Doctor You've Got to be Kidding (1967)

1967 was a rough year for Sandra Dee. She was in her mid-twenties and had outgrown the youthful persona that made her famous. Her contract with Universal, the last of the studio era, had ended a couple of years ago and now was the time to transition into a new phase of her career. However, the cutesy image of Sandra Dee was one that was difficult for the public to let go and when her husband Bobby Darin left her during the filming of Doctor, You've Got to be Kidding! (1967) it seemed like that image was shattered forever. This time proved to be a natural end to her acting career. She made a couple more films including Rosie (1967) and The Dunwich Horror (1970) and various film and TV appearances but Sandra Dee the movie star was no more. Even with all of this I refuse to look at Doctor, You've Got to be Kidding (1967) as anything but a fun, kooky film that captured the last of an on screen personality that has continued to captivate and charm us many years later.

Sandra Dee in Doctor, You've Got to be Kidding! (1967)

Doctor, You've Got to be Kidding is an MGM film directed by Peter Tewksbury (originally intended for Charles Walters)  and based on the novel Three for a Wedding by Patte Wheat Mahan. The plot for the story would be nothing without adding a bunch of zany antics to up the entertainment value. It starts with a crazy race to the hospital. Heather Halloran (Sandra Dee) is about to give birth and the identity of the child’s father remains a mystery. Her three suitors want to make her an honest woman and fight with each other to capture her as their prize. Who is the father of the child? Is it one of the three? Or someone else? And so the mystery begins.

Dick Kallman, Dwayne Hickman and Bill Bixby
Dick Kallman, Dwayne Hickman and Bill Bixby

We flashback to the beginning of Heather’s story. Her mother Louise (Celeste Holm) is an elevator operator determined to make her daughter a singing sensation. Over the years Louise has trapped various entertainment executives in her elevator and forced them to listen to Heather’s rendition of Be My Love. These elevator pitches got them nowhere. Heather grows up, dates boys, graduates college and joins the workforce all to her mother’s dismay.

Sandra Dee in Doctor You've Got to be Kidding (1967)

Sandra Dee

Celeste Holm

Heather tries to live a normal life amidst the antics of her kooky mother and a trio of pushy suitors Hank (Dwayne Hickman), Dick (Bill Bixby) and Pat (Dick Kallman). She’s got plenty of guys going gaga for her but it’s her new boss Harlan Wycliff (George Hamilton) who drives her crazy. At first he’s just annoying her with his constant multi-tasking and his brutal honesty. But it just takes one car ride alone together for them to see fireworks. What’s Heather going to do now that she’s about to become an unwed mother and everyone in her life is absolutely bonkers?

Harlan: "Your trouble is that you're wholesome."
Heather: "What a rotten thing to say!”

Sandra Dee and George Hamilton
Sandra Dee and George Hamilton

For those of us who have a deep appreciation for Sandra Dee, this film is a charming entry to her body of work. It’s a glimpse at the last moments when she was happy before she went into the dark post-Darin years. It was during the filming of Doctor You’ve Got to be Kidding that Sandra Dee found out Bobby Darin had left her. In one scene with Bill Bixby, Dee’s character slaps him and she breaks down in tears. That is a real breakdown for the actress who couldn’t hold back her emotions during a turbulent time in her life. According to a TCM article, Dee slapped Bixby so hard she gave him a concussion. When you watch the scene closely there is a continuity error with her hair. It goes from wildly out of place to perfect coiffed. I’ve always wondered if the scene was too much for Dee and the rest had to be shot another day hence the continuity error.

Doctor You’ve Got to be Kidding has a sad background but is essentially a fun wacky film. It might be a bit much for contemporary audiences but those of us who love the absurdity of the 1960s will enjoy this one. My husband watched this one with me and was overwhelmed by it’s kookiness. I had to remind him that “it’s the ‘60s baby.”

This film gives 1960s devotees a glimpse at the youth culture of the time notably dancing, music, nightlife of teens and young adults. For those who love vintage style there is plenty of eye candy including Celeste Holm’s colorful outfits, Bill Bixby’s glasses, Sandra Dee’s shimmery gold ensemble and George Hamilton’s slim fit suit. It’s worth the price of admission just for the shots of Hamilton’s office which is a splendor of 1960s corporate excess. Mad Men eat your heart out.

Heather and the Wild Affair

There are some notable minor roles in this film including beloved Allen Jenkins who plays Joe Bonney, a victim of one of Louise’s many elevator pitches. He helps Heather and her bad The Wild Affair nab a sweet gig at a club run by Mort Sahl’s character Dan Ruskin. Nichelle Nichols of Star Trek fame has a minor role as a secretary in Hamilton’s grandiose office. I had fun spotting Erich Von Stroheim Jr.’s name in the credits; he was an assistant director on the film!

Allen Jenkins and Celeste Holm
Allen Jenkins and Celeste Holm

Nichelle Nichols and Sandra Dee
Nichelle Nichols and Sandra Dee

Doctor, You've Got to be Kidding! (1967) is available on DVD-MOD from Warner Archive. This kooky film is a must see for Sandra Dee devotees and anyone who loves 1960s camp. It's a fun film if you don't take it too seriously.

 Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. I purchased Doctor, You've Got to be Kidding! from Warner Archive. Heck I even requested this title when I wrote to them for their podcast. The episode aired sometime in March 2015.

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