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!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave me a comment! If it is a long one, make sure you save a draft of it elsewhere just in case Google gobbles it up and spits it out.

Popular Posts

 Twitter   Instagram   Facebook