Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Kitty Feral and the Case of the Marshmallow Monkey by Eddie Muller

Kitty Feral and the Case of the Marshmallow Monkey
TCM Kid Noir
by Eddie Muller and Jessica Schmidt
illustrated by Forrest Burdett
Running Press Kids and TCM
Hardcover ISBN: 9780762481682
32 pages
4 years and up
September 2023

"My name is Kitty Feral. I was a gumshoe with no shoes, but I quit that racket. But when I overheard Cora talking about the missing Marshmallow Monkey, it was too sweet to ignore."

In his first picture book for children, Eddie Muller—along with writer Jessica Schmidt and illustrator Forrest Burdett—offers budding classic movie enthusiasts a kid-friendly introduction to film noir.

Kitty Feral and the Case of the Marshmallow Monkey is a mystery in the style of The Maltese Falcon (1941). The story a two-fold mystery with hardboiled detective Kitty Feral solving the case of the stolen chocolate covered Marshmallow Monkey while also trying to locate his missing partner, Mitch the Mutt. We follow along as Kitty Feral roams the dark city streets searching for answers.

Published by by TCM and Running Press Kids, Kitty Feral and the Case of the Marshmallow Monkey is a delightful ode to film noir and a must-have for noir enthusiasts, especially those who want to instill a love of classic movies in their children.

The book is chock full of film noir references. The endpapers display animal-inspired noir posters for movies like Nut Crazy, He Squawked by Night and The Possum Always Rings Twice. Kitty Feral visits the Acme Book Shop—a hat-tip to the famous bookstore sequence in The Big Sleep (1946). I spotted references to noirs like Deadline at Dawn (1946), On Dangerous Ground (1951) and I Walk Alone (1947) and to actors like Humphrey Bogart, Sydney Greenstreet, Gloria Grahame and Dorothy Malone. There are even references to non-noir classics like The Leopard Man (1943) and On the Waterfront (1954). Visual clues make this book a veritable treasure hunt for children (the villains are referenced on almost every page) as well as adult noir enthusiasts.

The style of the book is very fitting with film noir aesthetics. It features a limited color palette of black-and-white with pops of color. Kitty Feral wears a blue fedora and trenchcoat, Mitch the Mutt wears a red collar and the two are seen enjoying the multi-colored sunrise, signaling the end of the story's nighttime adventure.

Interior spread courtesy of Running Press Kids via Edelweiss

Interior spread courtesy of Running Press Kids via Edelweiss

The backmatter includes a single page entitled What is Film Noir which gives young readers the fundamentals of understanding noir. It explains why film noir was often black-and-white, the meanings behind certain terms and a gentle introduction to character and story types.

As a read aloud story this book has a lot of potential. I do wish the narrative flowed a bit better. There are a couple of awkward points in the narrative that could have easily been fixed. A design error on page 25 obscures one moment of dialogue. With that said, I read this book several times out loud and found that experience quite enjoyable. This book would make for a great bedtime story or read aloud for a group storytime. You'll want to develop character voices for Kitty Feral (who is also the narrator), Casper the Nighthawk, Polly the Bookstore Guard Dog, Mitch the Mutt and Lucky Lapin the mob bunny.

I hope Kitty Feral is the first of a series. I can see many more mysteries for Kitty Feral and Mitch the Mutt to solve and plenty of noir references to make.

Thank you to Running Press Kids for sending me a copy of Kitty Feral and the Case of the Marshmallow Monkey for review!

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Final Roundup: 2023 Classic Film Reading Challenge


And that's a wrap on the 2023 Classic Film Reading Challenge! Congratulations to all of the participants who read books and submitted reviews. I'm very proud of you all. Please know that I read/watched and shared every single review. It's always a joy to see what you all are reading.

If you're interested in participating next year, please see the note at the bottom of this post as the challenge will be changing moving forward.

The following participants completed the 2023 Classic Film Reading Challenge:

Alejandro V. — Andy W. — Angela P. — Bailee W. — Chuck P. — Chris M.
Jess I. — John M. — Laura G. — Ralph C. — Shawn H.

For the giveaway I chose six winners and they are:

Alejandro V.  — Andy W. — Bailee W. — Chris M. — Laura G. — Shawn H.

Now onto the reviews!

Alejandro on Goodreads

"If written biographies can be considered an art form, author Gabrielle achieves that distinction."
David Lean: A Biography by Kevin Brownlow

"The book is also full of photos in honor of Lean’s wishes for the biography, which was completed shortly after the filmmaker died. Brownlow said Lean wanted “illustrations…and lots of good bloody pictures.” Brownlow delivers on that promise, and so much more."

"Because of the beautiful art and photos and coffee-table format, it’s not just a great book on film production, but also an ideal gift for friends and family."

Andy of Journeys in Darkness and Light

"If nothing else, Class, Crime & International Film Noir proves that film noir was (and remains) a global phenomenon that fans should not ignore."

Movies Are Magic: The Director’s Cut by Jennifer Churchill, illustrated by Howard Edwards Creative, Asanka Herath

"My hat’s off to Churchill, Weston, and Oscar, for presenting such a fun book that can be enjoyed for years to come."

"Although the book was published over 40 years ago, we are still confronting many of its issues, but doing so from a greater distance. There’s certainly value in reading Showdown, but the discussion clearly cannot stop here..."

Suite for Barbara Loden by Nathalie Léger and Cécile Menon

"Suite for Barbara Loden shows us that often there are no easy answers, no objective entity which can measure the value of a person. Sometimes we are the least qualified to judge ourselves, but that doesn’t stop us from doing so."

The Warner Brothers by Chris Yogerst

"Yogerst packs a tremendous amount of the history of the Warner Brothers and the studio into one volume, making for an informative and compelling read. Anyone with an interest in movie history, especially of the major U.S. studios, will want to add this book to their collection immediately."

Angela of The Hollywood Revue

High Sierra by W.R. Burnett

"It’s easy to see why High Sierra remains a staple gangster story. Mad Dog Roy is a really compelling character, and the book gives more insights to his worldview that we don’t see in the movie. So if you’re a fan of the movie, the book is very much worth checking out. Even if you’ve never seen the movie, it’s a very solid read on its own."

"I’ve long been a big fan of I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang because of its gripping, hard-hitting style. I was not disappointed to find out that the book version was equally captivating." 

Little Caesar by W.R. Burnett

"This book is pretty much exactly what you think of when you try to imagine a stereotypical 1920s gangster story — a gangster longing for more power, a big heist, and lots of classic gangster nicknames like Scabby and Big Boy. It absolutely set the stage for the whole genre."

Long Haul by A.I. Bezzerides (They Drive by Night)

"If you’re specifically looking for a crime story to read, then Long Haul obviously isn’t going to be what you had in mind. However, if you tend to like the novels that film noir movies were based on, you could still appreciate Long Haul."

The Public Enemy by John Bright

"The good news is that the book is very much worth reading. The bad news is that you have to be pretty lucky to be able to check it out."

Scarface by Armitage Trail

"It goes without saying that Scarface is one of the most quintessential gangster stories of all time. However, this is a case where I like both versions of the movie better than the book."

Bailee on Goodreads

"I really don't think I can accurately describe the deep desire I have to want to consume all things Bette Davis right now and how I so wish I could meet her... Also, as I listened to this on audiobook, I have to mention how it seemed like the narrator, Suzanne Toren, really got Bette's voice and way of speaking down."

"this play feels so rooted in its time- not only with certain elements of the story but the intended performance(s) in particular... I can very much see Katharine Hepburn and Jessica Lange perfectly emulating the role of Mary."

Miss D and Me: Life With the Invincible Bette Davis by Kathryn Sermak with Danelle Morton

"I thought this was written very well; again, as if Kathryn is taking you back with her to those moments, in those moments."
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw 

"this is something you really have to be in the mood for. I think it's supposed to be a comedy(?) but Higgins is just so unlikeable that sometimes it's not that funny and more so annoying, and especially from today's perspective."

This 'n That by Bette Davis with Michael Herskowitz

"Having a good amount of focus on her family life- her marriages and children- this definitely feels more reflective than recounting one's life. Pointing out mistakes and wondering where a different choice would have led."
Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose

"This was simple, yet very good."

Carl of The Movie Palace Podcast on Instagram

"it’s worth noting that this is an engrossing read from start to finish. Petersen’s prose is both smart and straightforward, and her research is first-rate."

Image courtesy of Chris of Digging Star Wars

Chris of Digging Star Wars

"And that is the beauty of Snoodin’s book: whether you are a Disney fan or not, the read is fascinating and supported by tons of research. It’s legit and captivating."

Bobby Darin by Al DiOrio

"DiOrio, however, never loses track of Darin’s tenaciousness and ability to create art that will last more than a lifetime. He also chronicles friends, family, lovers, and wives. It’s all in there. It is a well-researched, meticulously-constructed telling of the life and death of Walden Robert Cassotto/Bobby Darin."

Hollywood: The Oral History by Jeanine Basinger and Sam Wasson

"The book does its job. It gives you an inside look at the glory days of the Studio system – and its downfall. It unspools the chaos of the 1950s and 1960s and marches you into the 1970s with soundbite after soundbite of the next wave of filmmakers that would forever change the industry and the world."

Chuck on Goodreads

"If you are a fan of the Universal Monster films, you'll want to pick up this book. This is the type of book I will reference often around Halloween when many of these films air or are available to stream."

"the book is not necessarily a linear history of film, but a long form poem or monologue that touches on virtually every type of film ever made. This different approach might not be for everyone, but I found it original and unique from every other film book I have ever read."

Image courtesy of Jess of Box Office Poisons

Jess of Box Office Poisons

Gloria Swanson: The Ultimate Star by Stephen Michael Shearer

"I'd definitely recommend this book if you're looking to deepen your knowledge of the silent era and one of its most famous stars; it does a better job at painting a complete portrait of the time than any other book I read this summer. 

The Million Dollar Mermaid by Esther Williams

"Esther was the ‘million dollar mermaid’ and the ‘mermaid tycoon’ but as you’ll find when you read The Million Dollar Mermaid, she was so much more than that. This all-American starlet was confident and powerful and adaptable."

"I have to admit that I didn’t think I was going to be able to finish this summer’s Classic Film Reading Challenge and it was down to this book. I rallied and here we are, but I totally and completely did not enjoy Lillian Gish’s autobiography, The Movies, Mr. Griffith, and Me."

Jessica of Comet Over Hollywood

"While there are several differences, I love both the book and the film. This was my fourth time reading the book, and I enjoyed revisiting it every time."

Gidget Goes Hawaiian by Frederick Kohner

"While the whole premise of the story is silly, the 120-page book adaptation is much better than the movie."
Gidget to Rome by Frederick Kohner

"I think that the book’s biggest crime is that it’s boring."

John on Goodreads

Fear Strikes Out: The Jim Piersall Story by Jim Piersall and Al Hirshberg

"Having seen the film a few years back, I naturally assumed the memoir to be somewhat different and I was correct. Piersall’s memoir is precise and no nonsense. The tone is conversational. He held nothing back and never pointed blame on another person nor did he look for pity."

"Despite being a slim volume, this book gives a candid look into the long career of an actress who became famous - not as a luxurious star garnishing movie marquees and Hollywood headlines, but as a stalwart figure who often was on the wrong end of the joke or a gag."

"If you are a fan of Laurel and Hardy, this book should be on the must-read list. There is definitely some new perspective that is offered and plenty of stories that like the boys themselves are very funny."


This Was Hollywood: Forgotten Stars and Stories by Carla Valderrama

"Going on vacation and need a great read? Or just looking for a literary trip back to the Golden Age of Hollywood, you’ll find a fascinating history lesson in this book."

"highly recommended for film fans both young and old. It is not the deep dive into the history and inner workings of the studio, or its founders but a visual celebration of the studio’s films through the decades."

Karen of Shadows and Satin

"This is one of the best movie star biographies that I’ve ever read; I was sorry to learn that author Donald Spoto died earlier this year at the age of 81 – I would certainly have written to him to let him know how much I was affected by his book."

Laura of Laura's Miscellaneous Musings

"This biography is an impressive work of research; the end notes alone run for over 50 pages! It provides great insight into Lehman's work alongside his personal life."

"In recent years Imogen Sara Smith has become one of my favorite film historians. Whether it's in commentary tracks, featurettes, or books, I find her thoughtful comments exceptionally evocative and insightful. I thus thoroughly enjoyed her book."

"THE JOHN WAYNE B-WESTERNS 1932-1939 is an informative and useful book which achieves its goal of explaining these films' significance in the context of Wayne's career."

"Schulthorpe was able to provide an impressive amount of detail on Roman's early years and beyond; the book is packed with information on Roman's work, along with a great deal of information on roles she didn't get. The author skillfully weaves quotes from the actress herself into the narrative."

Letícia of Cine Suffragette

The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin

"It was good research, it is clear, and a good amount of talent that made this book possible. It’s the best kind of historical fiction, the well-researched one. And if it hints on feminist issues, like “The Girls in the Picture” does, better yet."

Miriam's Vintage Classics

"There is a saying we have in Catalan... 'the good jam is in the small jar.' And that's the exactly the case with this book of interviews."

Molly of Classic Mollywood

Fright Favorites: 31 Movies to Haunt Your Halloween and Beyond by David J. Skal

"The way Skal talks about each movie is thoughtful and really does each film justice. Skal gives you a historical and sometimes technical insight into each film, which was absolutely fascinating to me."

Ralph on LibraryThing

"This book is a fun and informative overview of how the films came to be and evolved from a serious horror film Gojira centered on a giant radioactive lizard that was a manifestation of the atomic bomb come to life into a kid friendly comedy inflected series of giant monster battles with Godzilla as the defender of Japan."

Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier

"Having seen the restored Jamaica Inn prior to reading the novel the changes of the 1939 film actually preserved the mysteries of the novel for this reader. I highly recommend both book and film of Jamaica Inn which can each be enjoyed for their differing merits."

Seven Samurai by Joan Mellen

"Professor Mellen provides excellent analysis on Kurosawa's composition of characters illustrated with images from the film examining class, interpersonal relationships, group dynamics, and even foreshadowing the fate of characters and the samurai as a class."

Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration by Scott Tracy Griffin

"Author Scott Tracy Griffin has created an extremely worthwhile salute that doubles as a historical look at the evolution of popular media while keeping its focus on the celebration of Edgar Rice Burroughs iconic character Tarzan."

Raquel of Out of the Past

Ida Lupino: A Biography by William Donati

"Ida Lupino: A Biography by William Donati is a mixed bag. While it offers the reader plenty of interesting information and a cohesive outline of Lupino's extraordinary career, it's plagued by some odd choices in narrative. I would recommend this anyone who is interested in learning more about Lupino. It's a good starting point it covers a lot of territory in just under 300 reading pages. "

Designing Hollywood by Christian Esquevin

"While Designing Hollywood has plenty of interesting information about studio-era costume design, it reads too much like a standard reference book to be engaging."

Robert Belissimo at the Movies

"This book was so fantastic that my watch list grew is now another 1,000 movies... there is so much to discover."

My Cousin Maria Schneider: A Memoir by Vanessa Schneider, translated by Molly Ringwald

"A tough read in a lot of ways... It felt so personal to me. Really well done. Really well-written."

"so personal, so vulnerable, so incredibly truthful. The man truly went inside of himself and left nothing but his soul."

Shawn of The Everyday Cinephile

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

"Remarque’s work remains just as fresh and moving today as it was in 1928. Even with the shortcomings of the later two screen adaptations, I think all three films are also worth watching before or after reading the original novel."

"If you go in expecting a book centered solely on the classic era you’ll be a little disappointed. If you know that going in though, you’ll end up like me: immersed at the crossroads of literature and cinema with a boatload of books to read and movies to watch." 

"Filming the West of Zane Grey accomplishes its objective to bring to light Zane Grey’s impact on the Western genre although it is not an exhaustive account but merely the start to more rigorous analysis and discussion on the topic."

"How Motion Pictures Are Made inaccuracies and occasional dim-sighted views don’t detract from the knowledge contained or the enjoyment of reading this time capsule of 1910s cinema."

Yolanda of Dishonored Lady on Instagram

"Tab Hunter Confidential...  is one for everyone wanting to know how stars are made and torn down during their careers and the need to stay true to one’s self."

STATUS OF THE 2024 CLASSIC FILM READING CHALLENGE: I've decided to move forward with a self-directed challenge. I will announce the challenge and update the main page. However, you don't have to sign up or submit reviews. There also won't be any round-ups or giveaways. What I'll have posted will be some general guidelines about how to participate in the challenge on your own. Feel free to use the #classicfilmreading hashtag and share your reviews with others. I understand that this may be disappointing but I hope you'll still consider joining next year!

Friday, September 15, 2023

Designing Hollywood: Studio Wardrobe in the Golden Age by Christian Esquevin

Designing Hollywood
Studio Wardrobe in the Golden Age
by Christian Esquevin
Hardcover ISBN: 9780813197913
August 2023
University Press of Kentucky
 256 pages

"Modern glamour was born in Hollywood, where the combination of beautiful stars dressed in glimmering gowns traveled in movies and photos around the world." — Christian Esquevin

Author and researcher Christian Esquevin transports readers to the world of studio-era fashion in his new book Designing Hollywood: Studio Wardrobe in the Golden Age. The book is organized into several chapters each focusing on a different movie studio: Universal, Fox, Paramount, Warner Bros., MGM, Columbia and RKO. These chapters are book-ended by an introduction and wrap-up. Each section chronicles the history of the studio, the work of their costume designers, the professional relationship between designer and star and whether or not the studio made any efforts to preserve their costume collections. The focus here is solely on women's costumes. The book contains various black-and-white publicity photos of actresses in notable costumes and a handful of photos of the designers themselves. There is also a small insert of full-color design sketches. The author also describes individual costumes to help with visualization where photos are not available. While this was not intended to be a coffee table book, the larger format and eye-catching cover design does make it a beautiful book to keep on display.

While Designing Hollywood was well-researched and informative, it suffers from an awkward format, limited context and little to no extrapolation. There is little discussion about the impact these costume designers had on the film industry and there only brief mentions of their influence on the general public and on the fashion industry as a whole. The narrative has little flow and lacked any real insight or takeaways that would have made for a richer experience for the reader. Some chapters are better than others. I preferred the Paramount, MGM, RKO and Warner Bros. chapters over those on Universal, Fox and Columbia.

In my opinion, the book should have focused on the careers of the individual costume designers rather than the studios. Chapters on Irene, Edith Head, Orry-Kelly, Adrian, Mary Ann Nyberg, Walter Plunkett, etc. would have read been more engaging and still could have maintained the studio-era theme.

Because the book chapters are organized by studio, the overall timeline feels disjointed. For example, costume designer Irene's work for Universal Studios is detailed at length in the first chapter. At one point the author quickly changes from Irene's career to her tragic death without any transition. “Irene designed Day’s costumes for this film… on November 15, 1962, Irene slit her wrist and jumped out of a window at the Knickerbocker Hotel in Hollywood.” In chapter six on MGM, Irene is introduced again: "Irene was born Irene Lentz on December 15, 1901, in South Dakota." It feels odd to read about her death in chapter one only to have her come to life again in chapter six. 

I did notice a few errors in the book. The author writes: “Ann Dvorak (pronounced vor-shack) had also starred in Scarface in the same year but here gave her finest performance as a woman on a downward spiral." Except that's not how its pronounced in this instance. Rather it's d-voh-rAHk. There is also a mention of the TCM Classic Film Festival but it reads that TCM sponsors the festival and not that they host it.

While Designing Hollywood has plenty of interesting information about studio-era costume design, it reads too much like a standard reference book to be engaging. 

This is my fourth and final review for the 2023 Classic Film Reading Challenge.

Thank you to University Press of Kentucky for sending me a copy of Designing Hollywood for review.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Ida Lupino: A Biography by William Donati

Ida Lupino: A Biography
by William Donati
Paperback ISBN: 9780813196480
January 2023
University Press of Kentucky
360 pages

“Emotionally, Ida was a jumble of contradictions, infused with the polarity often present in intensely creative individuals.” — William Donati

Ida Lupino is one of the great outliers of the film industry. In a time when there were limited roles for women except for being an actress or writer, Lupino managed not only take on both roles but to also add director, producer and businesswoman to her list. To modern age audiences she's a feminist icon. But in reality Ida Lupino was a walking contradiction. Even as a pioneer female filmmaker who was fiercely independent she held onto traditional values when it came to gender roles. She leveraged her fame to advance her career but also advocated for her privacy. Some regarded her as a warm person and others pointed out her iciness. Lupino was not about to be pigeonholed into a single category of any kind. She was a complex person and unapologetically herself.

Originally published in 1997, William Donati's book Ida Lupino: A Biography chronicles the life of an actress-filmmaker who lived her entire life in show business. The book was originally meant to be Lupino's autobiography written with the help of Donati. But the project stalled and when Lupino died in 1995 Donati moved forward with a more traditional biography. The book was recently reissued this year by the University Press of Kentucky but I haven't been able to confirm if any notable changes were made to the original text.

The book begins with Ida Lupino's formative years as a member of the Lupino showbiz family, her close bonds with her father Stanley and mother Connie, her move from the UK to Hollywood to pursue a career as a film actress and her early days a Paramount contract star playing ingenue roles and her bout with polio. We learn about her friendship with Thelma Todd and the events of that fateful night when Todd mysteriously died (the author had also written a book about Todd). Then there were Ida Lupino's marriages to actor Louis Hayward, writer and filmmaker Collier Young and her particularly tumultuous relationship with Howard Duff which are all discussed at length. The author offers only brief glimpses into Lupino's mental health struggles and her fraught relationship with her daughter Bridget Duff. Almost every film that Lupino acted in and a majority of her television work is discussed. Her work with The Filmakers—the production company she started with her husband Collier Young— and the more involved projects she made while at Warner Bros. get the most coverage.

Some interesting facts I learned from the book:

  • Lupino was such a perfectionist that she often drove herself to exhaustion, illness and/or injury.
  • She greatly admired anyone who took the business seriously and preferred to work with people were as driven as she was.
  • Producer Mark hellinger stepped in to vouch for Lupino so she would get cast in the film They Drive by Night (1940). That film as well as High Sierra (1941) became breakout roles for both Ida Lupino and her co-star Humphrey Bogart.
  • Ann Sheridan and Lupino often got the same types of roles and replaced each other in different projects. For example, when Lupino turned down a role in King's Row (1942), it went to Ann Sheridan.
  • When Jack Warner offered her a 7 year contract he told her she'd be another Bette Davis for Warner Bros.
  • To prepare for Moontide (1942), Lupino took French actor Jean Gabin on a tour of the seedier parts of Los Angeles for a "first-hand look at vice and violence."
  • The Hard Way (1943) and Devotion (1946) were two of Lupino's most challenging productions due to complications with the studio, WWII and Stanley Lupino's death from cancer.
  • Agent Charles K. Feldman sought Lupino as a client and even bought the rights to Road House (1948) and sold them to Twentieth Century Fox with the stipulation that Lupino be cast in the lead.
  • Lupino enjoyed working with The Breen Office and welcomed their changes which she didn't view as censorship but rather as improvements.
  • For her hard-hitting drama Not Wanted (1949), which she produced and eventually directed, she couldn't use the title "Unwed Mother" because it was too salacious. But the restrictions did not apply to marketing materials so she plastered UNWED MOTHER in bold type in various newspaper ads to promote the movie.
  • She fostered new talent by casting Sally Forrest and Keefe Braselle in Not Wanted (1949) and Never Fear (1950).
  • Lupino and Young struck a deal with Howard Hughes to partner on three films between RKO and The Filmakers production company. Lupino was one of the few executives Hughes would actually agree to meet with directly. 
  • While the Motion Picture Association objected to the making of The Hitch-Hiker (1953), Lupino and The Filmakers went ahead with the production. Lupino had already gotten permission from prisoner Billy Cook and the two men he kidnapped. Their story was the basis of the movie.
  • Many of us know that The Bigamist (1953) had Lupino starring and directing in a film that also included her ex-husband Collier Young and his new wife Joan Fontaine. While that seems like it would have been an uncomfortable situation, Lupino and her third husband Duff were friendly with Young and Fontaine and the couples often spent time with each other.
  • According to the author, "with The Bigamist, Ida Lupino became the first woman to direct herself in a major motion picture."
  • Lupino was quick to adapt and in the early 1950s that meant transitioning to television. She insisted that her husband Howard Duff be her co-star in the TV sitcom Mr. Adams and Eve. The story idea was developed by her ex-husband Collier Young.
  • Producer William Frye personally chose Ida Lupino to direct which would be her last production The Trouble with Angels (1966). They originally wanted to cast Greta Garbo but couldn't get her out of retirement and was replaced by Rosalind Russell.
  • I love this quote from Rosalind Russell about Lupino: "The sex of a director doesn't mean a hoot. The one all-important thing is talent. Somehow it has evolved that directing is a man's profession. A woman has a tough, almost impossible time breaking down this caste barrier. Miss Arzner managed it. Ida is doing it now."

This biography suffers from inherent bias which was to be expected considering the book began its life as Lupino's autobiography. It's clear that the author very much admires and respects his subject. Lupino is treated with reverence but some of the more superfluous language feels cloying. However, the author does not shy away from exploring Lupino's self-destructive behavior, her contradictions and her co-dependent relationships with men. I was frustrated with some of the outdated language used and wondered if in this new edition some of that could have been edited out.

Ida Lupino: A Biography by William Donati is a mixed bag. While it offers the reader plenty of interesting information and a cohesive outline of Lupino's extraordinary career, it's plagued by some odd choices in narrative. I would recommend this anyone who is interested in learning more about Lupino. It's a good starting point it covers a lot of territory in just under 300 reading pages. Some of the more personal aspects of Lupino's life probably wouldn't have been revealed had it not been for the author's friendship with Lupino. There are some insights here that the reader might not find elsewhere that definitely add value to the text overall.

This is my third book review for my Classic Film Reading Challenge.

Thank you to the University Press of Kentucky for sending me a digital copy for review. And thank you to the Greater Boston Film Classics Club for inviting me to host a virtual discussion on this book!

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