Usually when we talk about the written word and the big-screen around these parts, we are talking about adapting books into a movie. So even though there will probably never be a satisfactory answer to the age old question: "should I read the book first?," today I wanted to shine a little light on the slightly less contentious world of books that are about the movies. Besides, what better way to celebrate my favorite genre than to provide some suggested reading, especially now that 'beach book' season is almost upon us?
My obsession with reading about movies might have something to do with the fact that I majored in English lit and cinema studies, but I just can't stress how awesome it is to get to indulge two of your greatest passions for the price of one. So whenever I get the chance to pick up a new 'movie' book, I go for it, and I've got the sagging shelves to prove it.
But before we get to my reading list, keep in mind I'm not just talking about biographies, so when it comes to my suggestions for books about the big screen, I've got a little bit of everything: gossip, history, social studies, you name it -- think of it as a free education in the high and lows of the world of movies.
After the jump; five of my favorite books about the art of movie-making...
Hollywood Babylon -- Kenneth Anger
This is the book that blew away every preconceived notion I had of the good old days of Hollywood, and was chock full of every salacious story about the studio days. In fact, once you read Kenneth Anger's muckraking classic, DUI's and sex rehab scandals are going to seem downright boring by comparison.
You Ain't Heard Nothing Yet: The American Talking Film, History and Memory 1927-1949 -- Andrew Sarris
If you ever wanted a crash course in Classic Hollywood and The Studio System, look no further than You Ain't Heard Nothing Yet. Sarris' classic is easily divided up into the big studios, genres, and stars, and is the best education in film that
you are ever going to get without having to sit through a mandatory course in semiotics.
Easy Rider Raging Bulls:How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood -- Peter Biskind
Growing up as a budding movie nerd, I would hear people talk about Hollywood in the 70's as the 'Golden Age', but I never really knew why. But thanks to Biskind's book, it all became a little clearer how one decade changed the industry -- and paved the way for the age of the blockbuster. Not to mention, I love to imagine an awkward Steven Spielberg hanging off to the side during one of Margot Kidder's drug fueled fiestas.
Roger Ebert's Book of Film -- Roger Ebert
Sometimes when the movies are your job you can get a little shall we say, jaded? You can lose that thrill of being one of
those 'wonderful people out there in the dark' after being forced to sit through the works of Tyler Perry or yet another Kate
Hudson rom-com. But one of the things that I love about Ebert's book is that it reminds us that not only is there nothing wrong with taking our movies seriously, we can even have an emotional connections to them.
Woody Allen: a Biography -- Eric Lax
I grew up watching Woody Allen movies, and like most fans I just assumed that I was watching Woody be Woody, (without ever really knowing who Woody was). But after reading Lax's history of the comedian and filmmaker, I received and education about how thoughtful and studied every nervous gesture and tic really was and maybe he wasn't the man I thought he was (for better or for worse) but I did respect him just a little bit more than I had before.
Hitchcock/Truffaut -- Helen G. Scott, Francois Truffaut
This book is the big-dog of all film books in that rarely do you get two masters to sit down and talk to each other about the art of making films. Really what else can I say, it doesn't get more in-depth than a thoughtful discussion about film from the legendary French filmmaker and the Master of Suspense.
So there you have some of my favorite books about the big-screen, but before I go, I couldn't leave without also recommending:
Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film
City of Nets
The Genius of The System
Conversations with Billy Wilder
But now I'm going to turn it over to you; what are some of your favorite books about the art of movie-making?