A Heart at Fire’s Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann – Steven C. Smith

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What a wonderful, well-constructed book… You can read my review here.

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Summer Reading Challenge 2018: Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (2000) John Belton, ed.

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Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (2000) edited by John Belton
Cambridge Film Handbooks, Cambridge University Press
trade paperback, 177 pages
(includes Alfred Hitchcock’s motion picture filmography, reviews of Rear Window, select bibliography, and an index)
ISBN 0521564530

Each volume of the Cambridge Film Handbooks series focuses on a single title*, including essays by film scholars and critics. Although I’d never previously read any of the other titles in this particular series, I’ve read similar books from various publishers. Such volumes are usually a mixed bag containing valuable information as well as an assortment of minutia, overflowing accolades for the director, and plenty of academic gasbaggery. Thankfully, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, edited by John Belton (Professor of English at Rutgers University) is an above-average collection of essays from people who know their stuff and can skillfully communicate it.

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Summer Reading Challenge 2018: Peter Cushing: An Autobiography

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Peter Cushing: An Autobiography
Weidenfeld and Nicholson
trade paperback, 157 pages
ISBN 029779132X

It’s not uncommon for people coming into the library where I work to get a little confused about biographies and autobiographies. We often get requests such as “that autobiography of Alexander Hamilton that he made into a musical,” (multiple problems there) or “Leonardo da Vinci’s new autobiography by Walter Isaacson” (problems here, too). With grace and gentility, we point out that autobiographies are written by the subject themselves and biographies are penned by other people who (hopefully) did careful research and study. Memoirs (which seem to be everywhere these days) are like autobiographies, but usually focused on a specific portion of the writer’s life. Peter Cushing: An Autobiography is truly an autobiography, yet it ends well before the end of the actor’s career. At only 157 pages, the work is quite short, stopping at the death of Cushing’s wife Helen in 1971. Although he worked for 15 more years and lived until 1994, Cushing chose not to reveal anything further about himself in this volume. (A second volume, Past Forgetting: Memoirs of the Hammer Years was published in 1988.)

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Summer Reading Challenge: Noir City Annual 2015 – Eddie Muller, editor

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Noir City Annual 2015 – Eddie Muller, editor
Film Noir Foundation, 2016
Paperback, 271 pages
ISBN 9780692565315

If you’ve ever watched one of Eddie Muller’s introductions on TCM’s Noir Alley (every Sunday at 10am EST,  by the way) or FilmStruck, listened to one of his DVD commentaries, or heard him introduce a film in person, you know that Muller’s love of film noir is personal, passionate, and boundless. Now imagine a book filled with men and women just like Muller who share his passion for film noir. That’s what you get when you pick up any Noir City annual.

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