Showing posts with label Guest Blogger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guest Blogger. Show all posts

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!

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

First Roundup: 2022 Classic Film Reading Challenge


I'm excited to share the first round-up of reviews for this year's Classic Film Reading Challenge. I'm so impressed with the reviews in this batch. A wide variety of selections and there are some very thorough reviews as well as great YouTube videos from Lee, Andy and Robert! Chris and Andy are the leaders of the challenge with 4 books reviewed by each so far. I'll be doing another round-up next month so stay tuned.

Alejandro on Goodreads

Image courtesy of Alejandro @alamofilmguy on Twitter

"The book is the portrait of a complicated man, and Eyman takes his time in delving into his subject’s multifaceted life with careful research and sharp reactions observation."

"It’s a rare look into the life of a Mexican-American actor building his career and the emotional toll that career had later in his life... But perhaps one day we will have a fuller text to explore all the areas of this extraordinary life. One can hope." 

The Original Sin by Anthony Quinn

Andy of Journeys in Darkness and Light

"This book is filled with great information and several surprises. If you're a fan of classic movies, you're going to love it."

Character People by Ken D. Jones, Arthur F. McClure and Alfred E. Twomey

"Bottom line, you can't go wrong with an Elmore Leonard work. Western or Crime."

Hombre by Elmore Leonard

"You watch Aldrich mature as a director and reflect on the successes and the failures, putting both into perspective."

Robert Aldrich: Interviews edited by Eugene L. Miller, Jr. and Edwin T. Arnold

Ari of The Classic Movie Muse

"[I] appreciated the additional insights into the characters from Inge’s text... We also gain a little more insight Hal’s family history and troubled background."

Picnic by William Inge

Brittaney of The Story Enthusiast

"Allanberger paints a portrait of a cunningly intelligent, often appealing woman whose independence and determination helped her succeed in a difficult business while also occasionally alienating people along the way."

Chris of Digging Star Wars

Image courtesy of Chris of Digging Star Wars

"Frankel knows how to collectively share massive amounts of research in a cohesive, entertaining story that is also history – both real, cinematic, and then some."

"Physically, the book is thin but printed in small type. In other words: it’s travel-sized but packed with information. It is also incredibly-smile-inducing for any Star Wars fan that is also a classic film fan."

"I loved this book. It educated me on so many levels of the Kung Fu film scene that started in the late 60s and even before that. It’s ballsy but honest. It also sets out on a mission and succeeds: these films – both good and “bad” – are a rich part of film and real world history that just can not be ignored.  

"let me conclude by simply saying “Hurrah!” for the please-take-a-free-book-and-keep-it library in the campground WiFi room where I found this literary treasure."

True Grit by Charles Portis

Chuck on Goodreads

Image courtesy of Chuck @Chuck7703 on Twitter

"Dolce Vita Confidential is an informative and fun read that will transport you back to that exciting time period of Rome in the 1950s."

"Hitchcock and the Censors is a unique and interesting look at Hitchcock's work through the prism of censorship that is a worthy addition to your film book library."

Hitchcock and the Censors by John Billheimer

"I would recommend this book to hard core Val Lewton fans or anyone with an interest in the American home during the war. Others may get bogged down in some of the analysis of this study."

Greg on Goodreads

"Anyone with interest in Film Noir or the Westerner genres, will be pleased to have this book as their gateway into the Sub-Genre of the Noir Western."

"Was expecting a little more from this book, but overall a good journey deep into classic Japanese cinema. Perhaps it's not as much about the filmmaking side of Japanese Cinema, but about the ideology behind and within it." 

Jess of Box Office Poisons: A Classic Movie Blog

Image courtesy of Jess from Box Office Poisons

 "ultimately this is the story of June's life as she wanted to tell it, and I guess you can't fault her for it." 

June Allyson by June Allyson

"I put this book down with the opinion that Loretta Young is a charming, eloquent, talented woman who was often ahead of her time in seeing trends and reacting to change, despite knowing that she was pretty pious and straight-laced and was never one to (openly) broker scandal."

The Things I Had to Learn by Loretta Young, as told to Helen Ferguson

Kara on Goodreads

"With each new installment, Lillian's Hollywood is fleshed out more fully with delightful cameos, recurring fan favorites like Bing Crosby and Barbara Stanwyck, and a rich (and ever-growing) cast of original characters."
Idle Gossip by Renee Patrick

"Not only are these stories fun and twisty mysteries featuring some of your favorite Golden Age of Hollywood stars, but they are also written in a way that is really enjoyable to read."

The Sharpest Needle by Renee Patrick

Lee on YouTube

"If you are of a philosophical bent... introspective narratives... purply prose... and you don't mind a spot of naval gazing... you can't go wrong with Nathan's novella."

Portrait of Jennie by Robert Nathan

Molly of Classic Mollywood

Image courtesy of Molly from Classic Mollywood

"This book is an easy read and you will get a sense of Granger’s personality and sense of humor."

Include Me Out: My Life from Goldwyn to Broadway by Farley Granger with Robert Calhoun

Ralph on LibraryThing

"Agatha Christie successfully broke the rules with her dark story "And Then There Were None" that has no assured detective like Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple to solve the mystery and foil the crime leaving readers to contemplate the darkness and self-deception present in people in all times and places."

And Then There None by Agatha Christie

"One of the great gifts of this book is how Ray Morton takes us behind the scenes to show the breakthrough innovations required by the special effects team lead by Douglass Trumbull as they needed to invent new ways to create the fantastic and realistic images Spielberg envisioned and demanded."

Raquel of Out of the Past


"Stevens offers a look at Keaton through a cultural history lens and readers with reap the rewards from all the historical context."

"I highly recommend this one for anyone who wants to go a lot further with their knowledge of film history and for anyone interested in black representation in media."

Robert B. of Robert Bellissimo at the Movies

"Highly recommended... it's a wonderful read."

"this is a very important book that I think should be given to every veteran actor or young actor or someone just entering into the field... the details of it are just really mind-blowing"

Sarah on Goodreads

"You can tell how much time and research the author put into her book, and her love for Keaton was evident."

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Fright Favorites: Review by Ally Russell

Photo source: @OneDarkAlly on Instagram

Fright Favorites
31 Movies to Haunt Your Halloween and Beyond 
by David J. Skal
TCM and Running Press
224 pages
September 2020

Fright Favorites Is a Seasonal Treat! 

Was Bela Lugosi buried in his Dracula costume? Would The Thing (1982) be as popular today if it had been directed by Tobe Hooper . . . with Christopher Walken in the role of R.J. MacReady? How many gallons of blood were produced for Scream (1996)?

If these are the kinds of questions that keep you up night—you’re not alone.. because a ghost is probably right next to you! I’m just kidding. I mean you’re not alone figuratively, which is why you should add Fright Favorites: 31 Movies to Haunt Your Halloween and Beyond to your library.

Written by David J. Skal and published by Turner Classic Movies and Running Press, this 224-page book guides readers through a century of horror film history, and boy is it a treat. To put it in terms you might better understand—Fright Favorites is like the full-size candy bar in your trick-or-treat bag: it’s small enough to hold in one hand, delicious, and is written in digestible, bite-sized sections so that you can savor it or eat read all of it in one sitting!

If you usually finish your Halloween candy in one sitting, then you’re in luck. There’s plenty more to read from Skal, whose other books include Hollywood Gothic, The Monster Show, and Something in the Blood.

Fright Favorites is small, but it packs a monstrous punch. The book includes 200 photos (full-color and black and white) on thick magazine-style paper, cast and crew details, historical information, and fun facts. Each section of the book also includes a comparable movie recommendation, so while the cover promises 31 films to haunt your Halloween, readers will actually get 62 suggestions! The book is available as an e-book, but the print edition is so much more delightful to hold in your hands.

Fright Favorites sets the stage with an entertaining and informative history of Halloween in Hollywood, which includes a glorious full-page black and white still of Vincent Price beneath the shadowy image of a bat. Readers are then introduced to classic monster cinema, which begins with Nosferatu and wraps up with The Mummy (1932). From there, readers are whisked into post-war horror films like Them! (1954) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). If you look to your left, you’ll see treats from Hammer Films, William Castle, and Alfred Hitchcock. Literary classics get their turn in the ethereal limelight with films like The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), Rosemary’s Baby (1968), and The Shining (1980). Night of the Living Dead (1968) eventually shambles from its grave to give you a small but yummy taste of zombie cinema. (Except they’re not called zombies in George Romero and John A. Russo’s classic film—they’re ghouls!) Then we make our way into the present—sort of—with classic and new slashers like Halloween (1978) and Scream. Finally, the book concludes with fun-sized treats—horror lovers with a funny bone will enjoy reading about Young Frankenstein (1974), Beetlejuice (1988), and Hocus Pocus (1993).

As excellent as this book was, I have to note that the film selections were lacking in diversity. Only two films feature Black leads—Night of the Living Dead and Get Out (2017). Sure, the book is not meant to be an all-inclusive list of horror films, but I do hope that a second volume is on its way because Black people, Indigenous people, and People of Color have also contributed to the horror film industry and those films deserve a place among these pages.

Skal’s introduction was so engaging and fun to read that I would have liked a proper send off. However, if a book about horror cinema must end abruptly, then I suppose a full-page black and white photo of Vincent Price is a fitting goodbye.

One of the most exciting things about Fright Favorites is the thrill that comes with each turn of the page. Rather than peek ahead, it’s more fun to try to guess which film will come next. Try it—you’ll have a blast while reading.

From its menacing black and orange cover to its full-color end papers featuring horror movie posters, David J. Skal’s Fright Favorites: 31 Movies to Haunt Your Halloween and Beyond is a seasonal treat that horror and classical film fans will want to keep on their coffee tables all season long. 

About the writer: Ally Russell has a ghastly passion for horror writing. She has created podcasts episodes and written content for the Horror Writers Association’s Young Adult & Middle Grade blog, Scary Out There, and has written for Night Worms and reviewed horror films for Out of the Past and She also hosts the FlashFrights podcast, which can be found on Apple Podcasts and SoundCloud. Ally holds an MFA in writing for children from Simmons University. When her childhood dreams of becoming a full-time witch didn’t work out, she settled for a career in publishing. She lives in Boston but hails from Pittsburgh—ground zero for the zombie apocalypse. She can be found on Instagram at @OneDarkAlly.

Thank you to Running Press for a copy of Fright Favorites for review.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

2020 Summer Reading Challenge: Final Round-Up

This year's reading challenge is officially over! Congratulations to everyone who reviewed books whether it was one book or all six. You all did a wonderful job. 

A special shout-out to those who read and reviewed all six books and completed the challenge: 

Andy of
Breanna of Bresfilms41
Carl of The Movie Palace Podcast
Jess of Box Office Poisons
Robby on Instagram
Shawn of Every Day Cinephile
Steve on Goodreads
Vanessa of Super Veebs

I also completed the challenge for the first time in a few years. Woot!

This year I randomly selected three winners of the giveaway. And they are:

Breanna of Bresfilms41 
Carl of The Movie Palace Podcast 
Steve on Goodreads

Now on to the reviews!

Photo Source

Andy of 
Scoundrels & Spitballers: Writers and Hollywood in the 1930s by Philippe Garnier 

Jess of Box Office Poisons

Le of Critica Retro
Mario de Andrade no Cinema by Mario De Andrade
Tutto Fellini by Sam Stourdze

Miriam of Cine Gratia
Every Frenchman Has One by Olivia De Havilland

Molly of Classic Mollywood
Dynamic Dames: 50 Leading Ladies Who Made History by Sloan DeForest 

Peter of Let Yourself Go... To Old Hollywood
Bogart by Ann Sperber and Eric Lax
Memoirs of an Amnesiac by Oscar Levant

Ralph on LibraryThing

Raquel on Out of the Past
Hollywood Hates Hitler! by Chris Yogerst

Rich of Wide Screen World

Photo source

Rob on Instagram

Shawn of The Everyday Cinephile
Film Music: A History by James Wierzbicki

Steve on Goodreads

Friday, July 3, 2020

The Assassination Bureau (1969): Review by Kate Gabrielle

The Assassination Bureau (1969) is an energetic, suspenseful, and imaginative romp through an alternate version of turn-of-the-century Europe where the chair of a secretive murder-for-hire organization, Ivan Dragomiroff (Oliver Reed), teams up with feminist journalist Miss Winter (Diana Rigg) to prevent World War I. Sure, he might be partially to blame for the Archduke Ferdinand's accidental assassination by tossing him a bomb concealed inside of a large sausage, but his heart is in the right place!

This dark comedy begins with Miss Winter seeking out The Assassination Bureau to commission a hit on Ivan Dragomiroff himself! Miss Winter believes that his demise will put an end to the increasing number of senseless murders being committed, and her first assignment as a newly minted journalist will be to trail Dragomiroff and cover his ultimate end for the paper. Driven partially by amusement at the offer and a desire to reset the moral compass of his increasingly mercenary institution, Dragomiroff accepts Miss Winter's request, with one caveat. If he is able to kill the other members of the board - corrupt men willing to trade an indefinite number of human lives in exchange for more power or wealth - then The Assassination Bureau can remain intact with him as chair, and restore its original mission to only eliminate those who are really and truly deserving of death.

Bedecked in a series of outlandish disguises, the members of the board all begin drawing up dastardly and inventive ways to kill each other off. A match sparked in a gas-filled room, bombs in briefcases, bombs in headboards, the aforementioned bomb in the sausage, and a particularly surprising death by helium! As Dragomiroff traipses across Europe leaving fiery, smoking buildings in his wake, Miss Winter follows along to cover the story and - predictably, but nonetheless adorably - becomes increasingly worried about the safety of the man that she just paid twenty thousand pounds to kill!

Diana Rigg and Oliver Reed have great chemistry here - in one scene when they are still in the verbal sparring stage of the "mismatched romantic duo" trope a hotel porter mistakes them for a married couple, and you could easily see how he could make that mistake. Dragomiroff remarks "it seems we have a married look ... because you're after my blood, no doubt." Of course, she's not the only one after his blood! Dragomiroff's second in command, Lord Bostwick (Telly Savalas) is so determined to see Miss Winter's hit carried out that he offers an additional ten thousand pound bonus to the person who does the deed. Savalas plays Lord Bostwick as a congenial villain, a man who delights in the game of death as much as the power he stands to gain from it. He is the perfect foil for Reed, who manages to portray an idealistic and upstanding hero with his characteristic devil-may-care flippancy.

The Assassination Bureau is as visually bright as the humor is dark - so many rich velvets, and so much attention to detail! In particular I was fascinated by a series of paintings lining the walls of the Bureau's conference room (a round room hidden behind beautiful curved bookcases) that depict famous assassinations throughout history, and a duo of beds in a brothel that are built to look like a swan and a peacock. Combining colorful, jaunty imagery with inset vintage newsreel footage, The Assassination Bureau puts a groovy 1960s twist on a fun turn of the century story.

The Assassination Bureau is available to purchase through the official

Kate Gabrielle is an illustrator and classic film fan. You can find her classic movie inspired artwork on her website,, and 10 years of film musings on her blog The Films in My Life.

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