The Best Books About Film

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soundchaser
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Re: The Best Books About Film

#1101 Post by soundchaser » Mon Dec 30, 2019 1:44 am

Wow, thanks, this looks great. I’ll probably order the Haines book anyway — it sounds interesting enough even if it doesn’t specifically cover the Fox junkings.


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soundchaser
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Re: The Best Books About Film

#1103 Post by soundchaser » Mon Dec 30, 2019 2:04 am

Oh, THAT Richard. Well, whoops.

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Rayon Vert
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#1104 Post by Rayon Vert » Fri Jan 03, 2020 2:01 am

Dr Amicus wrote:
Tue Aug 26, 2008 4:44 am
There are tons of books about Hammer; most of them are just the same old stories with some colorful pictures. Denis Meikle's A History of Horrors is a good industrial history of the studio with plenty of production information. He's pretty critical of most of the films, however, especially the mid-to-late period. The Hammer Story by Hearn & Barnes also looks OK as an introduction, but I've only skimmed through it.

The most comprehensive work on Hammer is probably Wayne Kinsey's two volume history: Hammer Films: The Bray Studio Years and The Elstree Studio Years.
I'd back that up. I read almost every book available on Hammer for my thesis and these are probably the way to go. The Meikle is the best single volume history (although might be a bit pricey), but the Hearn & Barnes (new edition appears to be out) has some fantastic pictures and looks lovely, at the expense of depth. However, as it's organised by film (most of the horrors get a page or 2 each), it's possibly easier to navigate if you want to know about a particular one.

The depth of information in the Kinsey (I've only read the 1st) is astonishing - and particularly good about censorship battles. However, it is strictly chronological - which means it can be a bit tricky trying to follow the ins & outs of one particular film. It's an off-shoot of a fanzine Kinsey has been producing over they years, "The House That Hammer Built" - and that too comes highly recommended.

In fact, another fanzine, the US based 'Little Shoppe of Horrors' is an absolute must for Hammer fans. HUGE amounts of detail (nobody in Hammer is considered too minor to be interviewed) and a valuable resource.
I'm (unsurprisingly) interested in acquiring a Hammer book myself. Reading those very old posts, I wonder if anyone has had time to browse recent volumes, Hammer Complete by Howard Maxford in 2018, and Chris Fellner's The Encyclopedia of Hammer Films from 2019. The Amazon links don't allow perusing the contents. Both are them are very expensive (over $100), but that's still cheaper than the out-of-print Kinsey volumes (I'd love to see maps or pictures of the studios, and I know these volumes contain them - I don't know about the new ones). I'm personally tempted to get Hammer Complete because of its greater length (near 1000 pages) and the comments (e.g. "Hammer bible") of the reviewers. Marcus Hearn directs all those Hammer documentaries for the recent Indicator and Shout blu-rays, but I was surprised to see his authorized Hammer Story is less than 200 pages, which makes it less appealing for me. I'm also tempted to get the three Rigby Gothic books.

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Dr Amicus
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Re: The Best Books About Film

#1105 Post by Dr Amicus » Fri Jan 03, 2020 6:18 am

It really depends on what you want from a book on Hammer, these are both encyclopedias - not narrative or critical studies. I've heard very patchy things re the Maxford, indeed his earlier book on Hammer from the 90s is very average - a surface level (without any obvious howlers that I can recall) narrative history with a redundant appendix with capsule Halliwell / Maltin-esque reviews (most films getting 0 stars!). I haven't got either - they might be tempting at a much lower price but certainly not at their current prices...

I see Meikle has revised his book into a glossier, larger format book from Dark Side - from a quick look it seems it's been abridged text wise with a lot of extra illustrations. It looks more like the Hearn - which is (based on the first edition) a film-by-film (at least, the more important ones) history of Hammer with, again, a lot of illustrations. As a history it's OKish, but it's a nicely put together book - indeed, I have seen several fans use it as a glorified autograph book. What I haven't got but is high on my list is Hearn's Hammer Vault - which looks like an updated version of the earlier book with some added goodies. I wouldn't be surprised if this had studio pictures / maps.

Also - one of the best sources for really in depth material is Little Shoppe of Horrors, a fantastic fanzine which has been running for almost 50 years by now. Each issue (after the first few) has a VERY detailed making of for (usually) a Hammer film and several other articles. The full range is available - earlier OOP issues have been reprinted in a slightly lesser format - and well worth dipping into (issue 19 has an overview of Fisher's work for Hammer and so might be a good taster).

However, avoid Sinclair McKay's A Thing of Unspeakable Horror: The History of Hammer Films - it's very poor with numerous mistakes and little critical sense.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#1106 Post by Rayon Vert » Fri Jan 03, 2020 12:53 pm

Thanks a lot for that comprehensive appreciation! Ideally I'd want both the history and everything else, but I guess I'll have to choose or double-dip, the latter being most likely. (Kind of frustrating that none of these books on Amazon except the Meikle affords you a look inside.)

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#1107 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat Jan 11, 2020 2:55 pm

Dr Amicus wrote:
Fri Jan 03, 2020 6:18 am
I've heard very patchy things re the Maxford, indeed his earlier book on Hammer from the 90s is very average - a surface level (without any obvious howlers that I can recall) narrative history with a redundant appendix with capsule Halliwell / Maltin-esque reviews (most films getting 0 stars!). I haven't got either - they might be tempting at a much lower price but certainly not at their current prices...
In case anyone is interested in a description of the Maxford Hammer Complete book, given that, as I said, the amazon links don't include a peak into the contents, I did splurge for and received it. I was a bit disappointed to see that it is very much an A-to-Z encyclopedia, whereas I was expecting something like a narrative history, chronological, with more in-depth articles. That being said, I'm not seeing what you're describing, including the capsule reviews with star-ratings. Film entries get 1-to-5 (large) page descriptions (3 columns of text per page). I see there are critique elements as well production history content in those articles, but again no star-ratings. Also info on dvd/BR availability, although that is already lacking information on releases in 2019 and upcoming. So this appears to be a very differently formatted book that the 90s book you're referring to.

It does seem to contain small articles on every single person ever associated in some capacity with Hammer. Huge, near coffee-size table book, but very text-heavy (occasional black-and-white pictures, but not glossy) that is almost 1000 pages. It does indeed appear "complete" in this sense, but probably not the sort of thing you'd like to read cover-to-cover (although I've been known to do that with certain encyclopedias, so I'll see what happens here). I did also purchase the Meikle, a used copy of the first Kinsey volume (Bray Studio years), and Rigby's English Gothic, so I should get my narrative fix among those!

*EDIT: The content of the book's appendix here are film titles that were supposed to get made by Hammer but didn't.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#1108 Post by Dr Amicus » Mon Jan 13, 2020 11:46 am

There is a preview of the Maxford on Google Books here.

I didn't mean to imply any correlation between the two Maxford books, apart from that based on the capsule reviews in the earlier book he didn't give the impression that he actually liked the films (on a, IIRC, Halliwell-esque range of 0 to 4 stars, only a tiny number of core films got 2 of more). It's 20 years since I read it, and my memory of it is as a perfectly decent introduction to Hammer but little more than that. Which, to be fair, at the time of its release probably made it a lot more notable than it would be now.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#1109 Post by Orson Kane » Sun Feb 09, 2020 11:20 am

Could anyone who's read the Simon Cowell trilogy on Orson Welles please tell me where you rank his biography against the other works on Welles?

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#1110 Post by MichaelB » Sun Feb 09, 2020 5:37 pm

Image

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#1111 Post by swo17 » Sun Feb 09, 2020 5:52 pm

What a callow response

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#1112 Post by beamish14 » Sun Feb 09, 2020 9:59 pm

Orson Kane wrote:
Sun Feb 09, 2020 11:20 am
Could anyone who's read the Simon Cowell trilogy on Orson Welles please tell me where you rank his biography against the other works on Welles?

Haven't read all of the 3rd volume yet, but the 2nd one, which deals with the Ambersons/It's All True/Journey Into Fear lunacy, is one of the best film books I've ever read.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#1113 Post by Dr Amicus » Mon Feb 10, 2020 9:07 am

I've only read the second - but I'd agree with beamish14 that it's a first rate book and one of the best film biographies I've read. For a point of reference as to my tastes, I'd put it on a similar tier to Joseph McBride's book on Capra and Patrick McGilligan's Cukor.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#1114 Post by Roger Ryan » Mon Feb 10, 2020 2:18 pm

I found Callow's first volume ("The Road To Xanadu") to often demonstrate the author had a chip on his shoulder in regards to his subject, seemingly going out of his way to note his distaste for how Welles approached his creative work. The result was a lot of "Welles' hubris undid whatever greatness he might have achieved" superiority (a fairly well-worn perspective found in numerous Welles biographies). By the second volume ("Hello Americans"), Callow's tone changes somewhat as he appears to be more forgiving of his subject, finding more value in Welles' predilection for juggling multiple projects at once. I haven't read the third volume yet ("One-Man Band"), so I have no idea of its overall quality.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#1115 Post by FrauBlucher » Sat Apr 11, 2020 6:20 pm

CineSavant April 11 column has a book review....Cinema 62: The Greatest Year in Movies

Anyone here familiar with this book?....Amazon page

Off hand, I'm not sure I agree with 1962 as the greatest but it could be worth hearing the case made

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Re:

#1116 Post by Ferocious Detritus » Sat Apr 11, 2020 7:25 pm

Cobalt60 wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2007 3:05 pm
advance apologies if this has already been brought up (but I am pretty sure it has not) but has anyone checked out anything from Creation Books. They have a pretty impressive looking series on cult and underground film. I have the Hammer horror volume and found it a pretty decent overview of the studios career. I was thinking of picking a few up more would and love any opinions/suggestions
I'd also like to know if these are worth reading. Especially interested in Lost Highways: An Illustrated History of Road Movies, Bad Blood: An Illustrated Guide to Psycho Cinema, and Killing for Culture: Death Film from Mondo to Snuff.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#1117 Post by Matt » Thu Apr 23, 2020 2:42 pm

I had a bunch of these books about 20 years ago when I was deeply immersed in research of what was then pretty obscure genre cinema. They vary wildly in quality. I can vouch for Killing for Culture, it's a well-researched book that was (at its time) the definitive work on its subjects. I owned Bad Blood at one time but don't really remember anything good about it. The one book out of this series that I have hung onto even through several interstate moves is Desperate Visions: The Films of John Waters & the Kuchar Brothers. Indispensable. I also remember Mikita Brottman's Meat is Murder being pretty useful.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#1118 Post by Matt » Thu Apr 23, 2020 3:07 pm

WmS wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 3:14 am
The 1993 Richard Haines book Technicolor Movies. The History of Dye Transfer Printing has a brief table of contents entry called "Purge" referencing a 30 December 1974 Village Voice article by John Belton and another contemporary article in Variety. The Haines book is largely about Technicolor the company and the processes involved, not the studios.
Oh wow, I never made that connection. Many, many years ago I did a bunch of archival research into Warner Bros. 2-color Technicolor films and discovered that that book's filmography (and its history of what I was looking at) is extremely inaccurate and incomplete. I will refrain from commenting further since I haven't looked at the book about 20 years, and it doesn't sound like it would suit your needs anyway, but I would recommend treating it as as scholarly and authoritative as you might a Wikipedia article.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#1119 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Mon Apr 27, 2020 2:23 pm

Matt wrote:
Thu Apr 23, 2020 2:42 pm
I had a bunch of these books about 20 years ago when I was deeply immersed in research of what was then pretty obscure genre cinema. They vary wildly in quality. I can vouch for Killing for Culture, it's a well-researched book that was (at its time) the definitive work on its subjects. I owned Bad Blood at one time but don't really remember anything good about it. The one book out of this series that I have hung onto even through several interstate moves is Desperate Visions: The Films of John Waters & the Kuchar Brothers. Indispensable. I also remember Mikita Brottman's Meat is Murder being pretty useful.
Would you recommend Eric Schaefer’s "Bold! Daring! Shocking! True!"?

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soundchaser
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Re: The Best Books About Film

#1120 Post by soundchaser » Thu May 07, 2020 12:55 am

Matt wrote:
Thu Apr 23, 2020 3:07 pm
Oh wow, I never made that connection. Many, many years ago I did a bunch of archival research into Warner Bros. 2-color Technicolor films and discovered that that book's filmography (and its history of what I was looking at) is extremely inaccurate and incomplete. I will refrain from commenting further since I haven't looked at the book about 20 years, and it doesn't sound like it would suit your needs anyway, but I would recommend treating it as as scholarly and authoritative as you might a Wikipedia article.
A...fun (?) addendum to this story: I was scanning the book’s Amazon reviews and saw one that seemed awfully complimentary to the director as well as the book. Three guesses as to who wrote it:
SpoilerShow
“Richard W. Haines” wrote: This is a very complex book with a lot of technical information, some of which I didn't understand. However, I did get the overall gist of the writer's arguement which is the Technicolor process was vastly superior to the Eastmancolor process that replaced it. I've seen some 16mm film collector prints in Technicolor which were gorgeous. One of them was "The Adventures of Robin Hood" which was beautiful. Rich and vibrant...it took my breath away. I also saw 16mm Technicolor prints of "North by Northwest" and "Singin' in the Rain" which were spectacular. Boy do I love Technicolor. You can actually buy these prints on ebay if you have a lot of money.
I can't believe Hollywood abandoned this process. It's hard to compare old Technicolor movies with current Eastmancolor films like "Minority Report" which is drained of color and looks terrible. Are current directors color blind? I guess most people have never seen a Technicolor print and don't know what they're missing...
This book is better than Fred Basten's "Glorious Technicolor" in that it details all the different processes that used dye transfer printing including Cinerama, Technirama, 3-D, VistaVision and CinemaScope. Basten's book only covers the 3 strip camera and pretty much ignores the fifties and sixties. This book lists every film that was printed in Technicolor and lists them in each category or process. My only complaint is that unlike the Basten book, there are no color pictures. There are a lot of technical diagrams though.
In Haines second book, "The Moviegoing Experience 1968-2001", he made the technical aspects of his subject a bit easier to understand but this book is still an excellent reference source.
Haines is also a film director and made a very interesting 'film noir' movie called "Unsavory Characters" which I saw on DVD. The color portions of that movie resembled a Technicolor film from the era so he seems to understand the aethetics of cinematography. I also saw his "Alien Space Avenger" on videotape. According to The Perfect Vision magazine, it was printed at the Technicolor lab in China!
I read that Technicolor dye transfer printing was revived a couple of years ago and used on "Rear Window" and "Apocalype Redux" but few people in Hollywood cared and it was shut down again. Shame on them!
There's no question that the author is the greatest champion of Technicolor and has made an impact on film history by chronicling the story. He's one of the most interesting writers and directors out there and I hope someone discovers him soon!

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#1121 Post by domino harvey » Thu May 07, 2020 1:13 am

He reviewed his own movie too, though he was more critical and gave it 4/5 stars
Entertaining homage to film noir mysteries
"Unsavory Characters" is an entertaining homage to those film noir mysteries of the forties and fifties. I was surprised at
the number of plot twists including one at the end I didn't see
coming. The unknown actors are very good. Eric Lefler reminded me of John Garfield and Jacqueline Bowman is a very good femme fatale. I think she could be a star if she gets the right role. Anthony Peraticos is sweaty and creepy. The gangsters look type cast. There is some nudity and violence. The sex scene when the girl eats the money and meows like a cat was weird.
The film has stylish photography. Part of it was shot in B&W and it definitely looks like an old film noir with lots of dark shadows. The color portions look like Technicolor. I thought the jazz music was moody. I liked the song she sings in the nightclub too although it went on too long. The stereo has no surrounds but considering the type of story it is, it didn't bother me.
The commentary by the director is very interesting. I learned about the history of film noir movies. It's like a film class. The stills aren't too good and there's a picture of a bird that wasn't in the movie. The picture of the director makes him look sinister which is amusing. The trailor is arty. I liked the intercutting between sex and violence and title cards.
Overall, a good DVD that's fun to watch.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#1122 Post by senseabove » Wed May 20, 2020 5:29 pm

This is probably skirting the limits, so feel free to delete, but thread subscribers may find things to enjoy in the pinned tweet here

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#1123 Post by Orson Kane » Sun May 24, 2020 7:45 pm

I'd like to learn more about cult cinema from an East Asian perspective (South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong) with a mix of horror, thriller, comedy, action and SF and other genre films.

Any books that are worthwhile? Need something beyond "Oldboy" and "Hard Boiled"

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#1124 Post by Grand Wazoo » Sun May 24, 2020 8:28 pm

Orson Kane wrote:
Sun May 24, 2020 7:45 pm
I'd like to learn more about cult cinema from an East Asian perspective (South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong) with a mix of horror, thriller, comedy, action and SF and other genre films.

Any books that are worthwhile? Need something beyond "Oldboy" and "Hard Boiled"
Hong Kong Action Cinema by Bey Logan and Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film by Chris D are pretty good primers for their respective countries.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#1125 Post by colinr0380 » Mon May 25, 2020 4:46 am

And whilst is is a couple of decades old by now I would highly recommend the Mondo Macabro book by Pete Tombs. I picked my copy up in 1997 and I am not sure if it has received a new edition since then, though of course it expanded into the Mondo Macabro television series (NSFW) that ran in 2000 and 2001 and into the US DVD and Blu-ray label that we now know (NSFW). It provides a good concise overview of genre cinema from around the world including:
Three chapters on Hong Kong cinema: the first on kung fu films (including a good description of the "Bruce-sploitation" films that came out after his death), the second on the more sexual Category III films (Sex & Zen, Robotrix, Naked Killer, etc) and the third on the supernatural and fantastical films (Black Magic, The Mighty Peking Man, Killer Snakes, Close Encounters of the Spooky Kind, the Mr Vampire series, etc. And a focus on Tsui Hark, Ann Hui and Kirk Wong. I would particularly like to see Ann Hui's 1979 debut feature film The Secret which gets an enticing description of being influenced by giallo and Don't Look Now!)

Next is a chapter on the Philippines: the Blood Island films, the run of women in prison movies, The Killing of Satan, the use of cockfighting in many of the films.

Indonesia with Mystics in Bali, The Warrior Against The Blind Swordsman. Lady Terminator!

Two chapters on Bollywood: one on the exploitation cinema in general (did you know that there was a Bollywood 'remake' of Lucio Fulci's The Psychic!) and the second on the fantastical and horror films with a particular emphasis on the Ramsey Brothers' output.

Turkey: The brutal action cinema of the country, along with all the Superman and Star Wars rip-offs! So many interesting action-thriller-sex-exploitation titles on dispaly here. Apparently "Tatli Cadi was a mildly kinky version of the TV hit Bewitched"!)

Brazil: Jose Mojica Marins features large here.

Argentina: from the first horror film produced in the country (1942's A Light In The Window) to the films of "Argentina's favourite sex symbol" Isabel Sarli.

Mexico: the Santo films where he wrestles against everyone, including a bunch of kung fu experts! ("1957 to 1966 were the peak years for Mexican cinema and in 1961 nearly one in five of all films produced were fantasty-oriented")

And three chapters on Japan: one introduction chapter setting the scene for a post Ugetsu ghost cinema, the use of sex in exploitation cinema, horror films and Edogawa Rampo. The second on sex cinema directly: Gate of Flesh, Koji Wakamatsu, Roman Porno, pink films, violence mixing with sex with Teruo Ishii, the Guinea Pig films, The True Story of Abe Sada counterpointing In The Realm of the Senses up to the early 90s and the made for video market and influence from anime getting more direct. Then the third chapter is on horror cinema: Kwaidan, Ghost Story of Yotsuya, Matango, Blind Beast Goke, Entrails of a Virgin, Star of David: Beauty Hunting, House (featuring here over a decade before it got its US exposure in the late 2000s!), the 'cyberpunk' explosion with Shinya Tsukamoto and Shozin Fukui, and a particular emphasis on Organ to finish the entire book off on the most disturbing note.
That is a brief run through of the chapters and I am not really doing justice to how in depth this film goes. It is a sweep across each nation's cinema which allows for much more research into each area. It was absolutely astonishing to read this book back in the late 1990s and find out about this otherwise unavailable material a year or two before getting access to the internet but even now, and this may be a testament to how much of a key work it is in this area, and with both Mondo Macabro itself putting out films like Lady Terminator and other labels exploring world cinema, we still have barely scratched the surface of many of the titles namechecked here. The essays in the book use a structure of moving between synopses of 'key films' that arise out of ongoing narrative that describe the trajectory of each nation's popular cinema through the decades, which for most focuses on the 1960s-1970s until the local popular filmmakers were overwhelmed by being unable to compete with Hollywood spectacle post-Star Wars. Only Hong Kong and especially Japan's popular cinema really survived into the 1990s in any sustained and organised form it appears, with even Bollywood exploitation disappearing for the more expected romantic musical fare it seems.

And there are hundreds of posters, stills and lobby cards (and a couple of pages of full colour in the middle of the book) to illustrate the films that they talk about. I think even with all the information out there on the internet even now it is still an essential book for anyone just starting out on a journey into popular cinemas from around the world up until the mid 1990s.

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