Showing posts with label John Wayne. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John Wayne. Show all posts

Sunday, October 19, 2014

New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (1)

 "I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book." - Groucho Marx

I've been on a reading frenzy lately and with so many good biographies and film books coming out I don't think I'll ever stop. It's so important for classic film enthusiasts to read and learn. It enriches the experience, develops the palate and informs the mind.

I've put together a list of new and upcoming classic film books. The publication dates range from September 2014 to March 2015 (specific on sale dates are subject to change). All title links lead you to the book's page on Goodreads. I've chosen a variety of books from big publishing houses to scholarly presses to small, indie and vanity publishers. This list contains biographies, reference guides, textbooks and more. Take a look through and maybe you'll find your next read.

edited by Randy Schmidt
Chicago Review Press
480 pages - September 2014

by Lesley L. Coffin
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers 
246 pages - September 2014 

by Gene D Phillips
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
204 pages - September 2014

John Wayne's Way: Life Lessons from the Duke
by Douglas Brode
Globe Pequot Press
128 pages - October 2014

A Companion to Fritz Lang
edited by Joseph McElhaney
500 pages - October 2014

Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood
by William J. Mann
384 pages - October 2014

The 100 Greatest Silent Film Comedians
by James Roots
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
464 pages - October 2014

by Michael Slowick
Columbia University Press
400 pages - October 21st, 2014

by Peter Ackroyd
Nan A. Talese (Penguin Random House)
304 pages - On Sale October 28th, 2014

by John Kisch and Tony Nourmand
Reel Art Press
288 pages - On Sale October 30th, 2014

by William H. Mooney
Rutgers University Press
224 pages - On Sale November 3rd, 2014

by Marc Eliot
Dey Street Books
416 pages - On Sale November 4th, 2014

Hope: Entertainer of the Century
by Richard Zoglin
Simon and Schuster 
576 pages - On Sale November 4th, 2014

by Arthur Laurents
Applause Theatre & Cinema Books
192 pages - On Sale November 4th, 2014

by Ruth Barton
University Press of Kentucky
362 pages - On Sale November 5th, 2014

Early Poverty Row Studios
Images of America Series
by  E. J. Stephens and Marc Wanamaker
Arcadia Publishing
128 pages - On Sale November 10th, 2014

Anxiety Muted: American Film Music in a Suburban Age
by Stanley C. Pelkey and Anthony Bushard
Oxford University Press
320 pages - On Sale November 12th, 2014

 Grace: A Biography
by Thilo Wydra
Skyhorse Publishing
340 pages - On Sale November 18th, 2014

Saul Bass: Anatomy of Film Design
by Jan Christopher Horak
University of Kentuck Press
492 pages - On Sale November 18th, 2014 

edited by Anthony Slide
Columbia University Press
448 pages - On Sale November 25th, 2014

by Tim Snelson 
Rutgers University Press
224 pages - On Sale November 26th, 2014

Columbia Noir: A Complete Filmography, 1940-1962
by Gene Blottner
McFarland & Co
277 pages - On Sale November 30th, 2014

by James L Neibaur
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
228 pages - On Sale December 1st 2014

by Brent Phillips
University Press of Kentucky
368 pages - On Sale December 2nd, 2014

Cecil B. DeMille: The Art of the Hollywood Epic
by Cecilia DeMille Presley and Mark A. Vieira
Foreword by Brett Ratner
Introduction by Martin Scorsese
416 pages - On Sale December 9th, 2014

Color and Empathy: Essays on Two Aspects of Film
by Christine Brinckmann
Amsterdam University Press
282 pages - On Sale December 15th, 2014

edited by Tom Hertweck
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
250 pages - On Sale December 16th, 2014

by Lea Jacobs
University of California Press

280 page - On Sale December 19th, 2014

Buster Keaton's Crew: The Team Behind His Silent Films
by Lisle Foote
McFarland & Co 
300 pages - On Sale December 31st, 2014

The Five Sedgwicks: Pioneer Entertainers of Vaudeville, Film and Television
by Michael Zmuda
McFarland & Co 
277 pages - On Sale December 31st, 2014

by Kristen Hatch
Rutgers University Press
208 pages - On Sale January 2015

Dalton Trumbo: Blacklisted Hollywood Radical
by Larry Ceplair and Christopher Trumbo
University Press of Kentucky
640 pages - On Sale January 13th, 2015

 Art Direction and Production Design
edited by Lucy Fischer
Rutgers University Press
272 pages - On Sale January 19th, 2015

Cinema Civil Rights: Regulation, Repression and Race in the Classic Hollywood Era
by Ellen C. Scott
Rutgers University Press
288 pages - On Sale January 28th, 2015

A Filmgoer's Guid to In-Jokes, Obscure References and Sly Details
by Matthew Coniam
McFarland & Co
On Sale January 31st, 2015

by Michaelangelo Capua
McFarland & Co
On Sale January 31st, 2015

By Peggy Caravantes
Chicago Review Press 
208 pages (juvenile) - On Sale February 1st, 2015

Follies of God: Tennessee Williams and the Women of the Fog
by  James Grissom
Knopf (Penguin Random House)
416 pages - On Sale March 3rd, 2015

Hitchcock Lost and Found: The Forgotten Films 
by Alain Kerzoncuf and Charles Barr
University Press of Kentucky
248  pages - On Sale March 6th, 2015

by William Wellman Jr.
608 pages - On Sale March 10th, 2015

Lois Weber in Early Hollywood
by Shelley Stamp
University of California Press
401 pages - On Sale March 13th, 2015

Hitchcock a la Carte
by Jan Olsson
Duke University Press
288 pages - On Sale March 20th, 2015

Alfred Hitchcock: The Man Who Knew Too Much
by Michael Wood
New Harvest
144 pages - On Sale March 24th, 2015

Friday, October 17, 2014

American Titan: Searching for John Wayne by Marc Eliot

American Titan: Searching for John Wayne
by Marc Eliot
Dey St. Books (HarperCollins)
97800622690030 - Hardcover
432 pages
November 2014

Barnes and Noble
IndieBound (your local Indie bookshop)

"As a crusader for freedom, he loved beating up on bad guys. He was, after all, the king of the cowboys." - Marc Eliot

American Titan: Searching for John Wayne is my fourth Marc Eliot biography. I've read his books on Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart and Steve McQueen (and my husband reviewed his book on Michael Douglas). Eliot’s bios have always proven to be informative and entertaining. They’re not definitive or exhaustive rather they paint a picture through story-telling.

Eliot refers to this book as a “revisionist biography” of John Wayne. He says, “I wanted to examine him from an auteurist point of view, to put the emphasis on his work, to show how the films reflected his personal life, and how in turn, he reflected himself in his films.” He didn’t interview any of Wayne’s family members, friends or colleagues, something he admits to in his author’s note. Eliot says, “I prefer to bring my point of view of my work, rather than having a point of view influenced by ‘experts’.” However, Eliot does indirectly rely on these experts and he often cites memoirs written by Maureen O’Hara and Wayne’s third wife Pilar as well as interviews by Peter Bogdonavich throughout the text.

John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara in Rio Grande (1950) (source)

“John Wayne is not just an actor, and a good actor, he is the United States of America.” – Maureen O’Hara 

Born Marion Mitchell Morrison in 1907, Wayne’s parents were less than ideal role models in his life. His father Clyde made bad business decisions and put little effort into his marriage to Wayne’s mother Molly. She doted on Wayne’s brother Robert and often neglected her oldest son. The parents’ influence on a young Wayne would greatly affect his financial decisions and romantic relationships as an adult.

John Wayne at USC

Wayne picked up the nickname “Duke” as a kid. He named his dog “Duke” and the local firefighters would refer to the pair as big Duke and little Duke. Eventually, the firefighters started referring to Wayne as Duke and the name stuck. Wayne went to USC on a football scholarship. Finances were tight so he depended on the scholarship and extra jobs to be able to finance his education. It was while at USC that Wayne got into films playing bit parts and working as a stage hand. His early encounter with John Ford and other important people in the industry helped him get in start in films. Ford was impressed with Wayne’s ambition, his willingness to work and his honesty. Raoul Walsh was also impressed by these qualities and cast him in The Big Trail (1930). Walsh said “what I needed was a feeling of honesty, of sincerity and Wayne had it.”

"I got nothin' to sell but sincerity, and I been selling' it like the blazes ever since I started." - John Wayne

Marion Morrison soon became John Wayne. He developed many trademarks including his speech, walk and gun twirl. Wayne was determined to do good work. He knew his limitations as an actor but also realized that he had a lot to offer audiences. Wayne worked with John Ford, Howard Hawks, Howard Hughes, William Wellman and John Huston among others. He had contracts with Fox, Columbia Studios, Monogram Pictures, RKO and created his own production companies including Wayne-Fellows and Batjac.

John Ford and John Wayne (source)

“If Ford justified Wayne’s star power, Wayne helped Ford join the pantheon of American auteurs. Each made the other greater by his presence.” – Marc Eliot 

Eliot’s biography focuses on two things: his career as an actor and his relationship with key figures in his life. If John Wayne is the main character of the story, John Ford is his trusty sidekick. Together they made 23 films and Ford features most prominently in this biography. Ford was tough on Wayne, especially on set, but at a certain level they understood each other. I thought Maureen O’Hara, a good friend of Wayne’s and famous for being his leading lady, would appear often in this biography but alas she did not.

The author delves into Wayne’s three marriages with Josephine, Chata and Pilar as well as his relationships with Pat Stacy, Marlene Dietrich and Claire Trevor. He isn’t afraid to dig up some dirt but in comparison to the Cary Grant and Steve McQueen biographies, this one is pretty tame. As a Latina, I have always been amused by Wayne’s penchant for Hispanic women.

"Some men collect stamps. I go for Latin Americans." - John Wayne

John Wayne with his first wife Josephine and Loretta Young

John Wayne with his second wife Chata

John Wayne with his third wife Pilar (source)

Wayne’s body of film work is key to understanding his life and career. Eliot takes his time with the big movies as well as the failures that influenced Wayne’s career trajectory. Readers will learn about films such as The Big Trail (1930), Stagecoach (1939), Red River (1948), Rio Grande (1950), The Quiet Man (1952), The Searchers (1956), Rio Bravo (1959), The Alamo (1960), True Grit (1969) and more.

He had professional rivalries with Gary Cooper (he had a strong, negative reaction to the film High Noon) and Henry Fonda. Wayne often negotiated good terms on his movie deals. He’d ask for money up front or against profits plus up to 10% of future profits. He made a lot of money but never really built any substantial wealth. Wayne was reckless with his money, made bad investments, his marriages and divorces drained his funds and a few people took advantage of his trustworthy nature and stole from him.

There is a lot of focus on Wayne’s politics in this book. He was conservative and very anti-Communism. Wayne served as president of the Motion Picture Association and according to some was responsible for the blacklisting of several people in Hollywood. Wayne’s politics drove much of what he did however he wasn’t above working with or becoming friends with Hollywood liberals.

Eliot makes an interesting observation about Wayne’s public battle with cancer. He likens it to Rock Hudson’s public battle with AIDS. Being open with fans and media outlets about their health created awareness. Eliot’s epilogue recounts Wayne’s final days dealing with stomach cancer and his last public appearance at the Oscars in 1979.

Overall American Titan is a good and informative read but I feel like I might have outgrown Eliot’s biographies. I wanted something more substantial. My husband has been reading this biography alongside with me and I think it’s more well-suited to him than it is to me. Carlos reads for entertainment and I read to study and learn. I’d be remiss not to mention Scott Eyman’s biography on John Wayne which also published this year. It’s been getting rave reviews and although I’ve never had any particular interest in John Wayne, I’ll probably read it to get a different look at Wayne’s life and work.

Carlos reading American Titan

I won a copy this book from Goodreads as part of their First Reads giveaway program. What I received was a galley/ARC (uncorrected proof) which contained errors, inconsistencies and some missing back matter which should be corrected/added upon final publication. Throughout the first half of the book, availability of Wayne’s films often appeared as footnotes. It was noted if the film was on DVD, YouTube or aired on TCM (note that the lifespan of a free movie on YouTube is very short so those notations will quickly become outdated). This was terribly distracting and I’m hoping they’ll work this into a list in the back versus keeping this as footnotes in the text. There wasn’t an index or any photos but I’m sure these will be added later. The photos, if they are added, will most likely be an insert in the middle of the book. I also hope the Author’s Note gets moved to the front matter. I found Eliot’s explanation of his intentions with this biography to be useful in understanding the book and would have served me better had I read it first.

Thank you to Goodreads and Dey Street Books (Harper) for sending me a copy of American Titan to review!

Popular Posts

 Twitter   Instagram   Facebook