Tuesday, October 21, 2014
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The Book on Movies: Essential Film Books

The British Film Institute polled film critics and scholars to name essential film books and here are the results, including biography, criticism, Hollywood portraits, history, memoir and theory.

The Book on Movies: Essential Film Books

Mark Harris´  excellent Pictures from a Revolution charts the fault line between Old Hollywood and New.
Mark Harris' excellent Pictures from a Revolution charts the fault line between Old Hollywood and New.

The British Film Institute polled film critics and scholars to name essential film books and here are the results, including biography, criticism, Hollywood portraits, history, memoir and theory.

For me, the essential film biographies are The Biographical Dictionary of Cinema by David Thomson,  Dietrich by Steven Bach and Alfred Hitchcock: The Dark Side of Genius by Donald Spoto.

In criticism, my most-thumbed volumes are The American Cinema by Andrew Sarris5001 Nights at the Movies by Pauline Kael, Negative Space by Manny Farber and Otis Ferguson on Film.

The keenest Hollywood portraits: The Devil's Candy by Julie Salamon, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind, The Face on the Cutting Room Floor by Murray Schumach, Final Cut by Steven Bach, Hitchcock by Francois Truffaut and Picture by Lillian Ross. 

Among film histories, From Reverence to Rape by Molly Haskell, The Parade's Gone By by Kevin Brownlow, Pictures from a Revolution by Mark Harris, The Stars by Edgar Morin and Toms, Coons Mammies, Mulattoes and Bucks by Donald Bogle.

My favorite memoirs: Every Man in His Time by Raoul Walsh,  Fun in a Chinese Laundry by Joseph von Sternberg, Goodness Has Nothing to Do With It by Mae West, A Life by Elia Kazan and My Last Sigh by Luis Bunuel.

Theoretical tomes: Film Art and Film Form by Sergei Eisenstein and What is Cinema? by Andre Bazin.

Best all-round resource: Leonard Maltin's movie guides.

Which film books are your essentials?

 

Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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