Makin’ a List and Checkin’ it Twice…
A ‘Classic Movie Book’ Holiday Gift List
Well, CMH has given away lots of wonderful Classic Movie Books over the past few years, and I’ve had the pleasure of reading many of them (twist my arm!). That said, I just wanted to recap some of them here, in case you’re looking for that ‘special something’ for the Classic Movie Fan in your life… or (if you’re like me), you’re in the mood to fill your own Christmas stocking with a little holiday cheer!
Wishing everyone a Very Merry Christmas, and (or) a Very Happy Holiday Season! Hope you’ve all been good and that Santa treats you right!
So without any more fa la la…
“Make ‘Em Laugh” by Debbie Reynolds and Dorian Hannaway:
Well, we haven’t given away this book yet (stay tuned for our January announcement), but I’m including it here because I’m in the midst of reading it now and I am thoroughly enjoying it…
About the Book: From her acclaimed performances to her headline-making divorce from Eddie Fisher, raising a famous daughter to hitting the road with a successful one-woman show, Debbie Reynolds has been in the spotlight for decades. She’s met presidents, performed for the Queen of England, and partied with kings. A show business icon, she continues to sing and dance—and can drop more names than Andy Cohen. In this fabulous personal tour, she recalls wonderful moments with the greats of the entertainment world—Lucille Ball, Frank Sinatra, Bette Davis, Phyllis Diller, and many, many more—sharing stories that shed new light on her life and career and the glittering world of Hollywood then and now. Debbie has plenty to tell—and in Make ’Em Laugh, she dishes it in the warm, down-to-earth voice her fans adore.
“Ziegfeld and His Follies” by Cynthia and Sara Brideson:
Well, I’ve learned so much about The Great Ziegfeld and his Ziegfeld Girls (understatement) thanks to Cynthia and Sara, who, I am also VERY happy to say, are monthly contributors to the CMH blog!
About the Book: The name Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. is synonymous with the decadent revues that the legendary impresario produced at the turn of the twentieth century. These extravagant performances were filled with catchy tunes, high-kicking chorus girls, striking costumes, and talented stars such as Eddie Cantor, Fanny Brice, Marilyn Miller, W. C. Fields, and Will Rogers. After the success of his Follies, Ziegfeld revolutionized theater performance with the musical Show Boat and continued making Broadway hits―including Sally, Rio Rita, and The Three Musketeers ―several of which were adapted for the silver screen. In this definitive biography, authors Cynthia Brideson and Sara Brideson offer a comprehensive look at both the life and legacy of the famous producer. Lavishly illustrated with over 75 images, this meticulously researched book presents an intimate and in-depth portrait of a figure who profoundly changed American entertainment.
“Andy & Don” by Daniel de Vise:
Okay, I just have to say it, who doesn’t love Barney Fife?!? That said, this book celebrates the real-life friendship behind one of America’s most iconic television programs — written by Don Knotts’s brother-in-law, Daniel de Vise.
About the Book: Andy Griffith and Don Knotts met on Broadway in the 1950s. When Andy went to Hollywood to film a TV pilot about a small-town sheriff, Don called to ask if the sheriff could use a deputy. The comedic synergy between Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife ignited The Andy Griffith Show, elevating a folksy sitcom into a timeless study of human friendship, as potent off the screen as on. Written by Don Knotts’s brother-in-law and featuring extensive unpublished interviews with those closest to both men, Andy and Don is the definitive literary work on the legacy of The Andy Griffith Show and a provocative and an entertaining read about two of America’s most enduring stars.
“The Gag Man” by Matthew Dessem:
In the course of his 36 years in film and television, he wrote, co-wrote, or directed films for nearly every major comedy figure of his time. Need I say more?
About the Book: Though today he is barely remembered, Clyde Bruckman was a key figure in early film comedy, collaborating with icons like Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, W.C. Fields, Laurel & Hardy, and the Three Stooges. Working while screenwriting was still in its infancy, Bruckman helped shape many influential shorts and films, developed the gags that made them legendary, and eventually became a director himself. But Bruckman’s own life was filled with tragedy and disappointment, from alcoholism to accusations of plagiarism, and over time his story has been relegated to little more than a footnote. Matthew Dessem’s The Gag Man is the first book-length biography of this fascinating but elusive figure. Drawing on archives, court documents, and of course the films themselves, Dessem brings Bruckman’s story to life and shines a light on an important corner of Hollywood history.
A Treasury of Great Recipes 50th Anniversary Edition (aka the Vincent Price Cookbook): An impressive and beautiful 500+ page cookbook by ‘master of horror’ and gourmet cook, Vincent Price and his wife Mary!
About the Book: In perhaps the first celebrity cookbook, famed actor Vincent Price and his wife, Mary, present mouthwatering recipes from around the world in simplified, unpretentious forms that anyone can make and enjoy. Selected from London’s The Ivy, Madrid’s Palace Hotel, New York’s Sardi’s, and other legendary establishments, the recipes are accompanied by witty commentaries, while color photos and atmospheric drawings by Fritz Kredel make this one of the most beautiful books of its kind. Includes a Retrospective Preface by the couple’s daughter, Victoria Price, and a new Foreword by Wolfgang Puck.
Although not necessarily ‘new releases’, these books are definitely worthy of gift-giving and getting:
“Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life” by Peter Ackroyd:
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a huge Charlie Chaplin fan. So, imagine my delight when I read this marvelous biography that lends great insight into the life, the films, the man — and the genius — of Charles Chaplin.
About the Book: He was the very first icon of the silver screen and is one of the most recognizable of Hollywood faces, even a hundred years after his first film. But what of the man behind the moustache? Peter Ackroyd’s biography turns the spotlight on Chaplin’s life as well as his work, from his humble theatrical beginnings in music halls to winning an honorary Academy Award. Everything is here, from the glamor of his golden age to the murky scandals of the 1940s and eventual exile to Switzerland. There are charming anecdotes along the way: playing the violin in a New York hotel room to mask the sound of Stan Laurel frying pork chops and long Hollywood lunches with Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. This masterful brief biography offers fresh revelations about one of the most familiar faces of the last century and brings the Little Tramp vividly to life.
“Hope: Entertainer of the Century” by Richard Zoglin: I learned a lot and smiled a lot, and, quite frankly, was struck by Hope’s relentless hard work in building his legacy. Boy, did I take Bob Hope ‘for granted’ before I read this book!
About the Book: With his topical jokes and his all-American, brash-but-cowardly screen character, Bob Hope was the only entertainer to achieve top-rated success in every major mass-entertainment medium of the century, from vaudeville in the 1920s all the way to television in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. He virtually invented modern stand-up comedy. Above all, he helped redefine the very notion of what it means to be a star: a savvy businessman, an enterprising builder of his own brand, and a public-spirited entertainer whose Christmas military tours and unflagging work for charity set the standard for public service in Hollywood. Richard Zoglin shows there is still much to be learned about this most public of figures, from his secret first marriage and his stint in reform school, to his indiscriminate womanizing and his ambivalent relationships with Bing Crosby and Johnny Carson. Hope could be cold, self-centered, tight with a buck, and perhaps the least introspective man in Hollywood. But he was also a tireless worker, devoted to his fans, and generous with friends.
“John Wayne: The Life and Legend” by Scott Eyman:
We learn about Wayne’s relentless work ethic, his profound relationship with John Ford, his political views, his failed marriages — and so much more. Great insight into the life and legend of a true American icon.
About the Book: John Wayne was one of Hollywood’s most famous and most successful actors, but he was more than that. He became a symbol of America itself. He epitomized the Western film, which for many people epitomized America. He identified with conservative political causes from the early 1930s to his death in 1979, making him a hero to one generation of Americans and a villain to another. Like many stars, he altered his life story, claiming to have become an actor almost by accident when in fact he had studied drama and aspired to act for most of his youth. He married three times, all to Latina women, and conducted a lengthy affair with Marlene Dietrich. Wayne projected dignity, integrity, and strength in all his films, even when his characters were flawed, and whatever character he played was always prepared to confront injustice in his own way. More than thirty years after his death, he remains the standard by which male stars are judged and an actor whose morally unambiguous films continue to attract sizeable audiences.
“The Sound of Music Story” by Tom Santopietro:
Chronicling the real-life story of Maria von Trapp and the evolution of the Broadway play and film, this book is a treasure trove of fun facts, behind-the-scenes stories and contextual insight. A thoroughly enjoyable read!
About the Book: Rarely has a film captured the love and imagination of the moviegoing public in the way that “The Sound of Music” did. Now, Tom Santopietro has written the ultimate “Sound of Music” fan book with all the inside info, from behind the scenes stories of the filming in Austria and Hollywood, to new interviews with Johannes von Trapp and others. Santopietro looks back at the real life story of Maria von Trapp, goes on to chronicle the sensational success of the Broadway musical, and recounts the story of the near cancellation of the film when the “Cleopatra” bankrupted 20th Century Fox. Tom Santopietro knows and will tell all while providing a historian’s critical analysis of the careers of director Robert Wise and screenwriter Ernest Lehman, a look at the critical controversy which greeted the movie, the film’s relationship to the turbulent 1960s and the super stardom which engulfed Julie Andrews. Tom Santopietro’s “The Story of ‘The Sound of Music’” is book for everyone who cherishes this American classic.
Not part of our giveaways this year, but…
The Charlie Chaplin Archives:
Well, CMH didn’t giveaway this book this year, but I am adding it here because it is ABSOLUTELY STUNNING. Yes, it is expensive, and in all honesty, I saved all of my amazon ‘bonus points’ in order to purchase it at a reduced price — but it is a TREASURE. So much so, that once I opened the box, I didn’t even want to touch the book!!! And, I was ever so careful in turning the pages, and immediately put it back in the box, where it still sits! Anyway, my New Year’s Resolution is to take it out of the box again (very carefully), and spend some quality time with it. Oh, and did I mention that there’s a 12 frame strip from City Lights cut from an original 35 mm print in the first 10,000 copies. Wow…
About the Book: With unrestricted access to the Chaplin archives, TASCHEN presents the ultimate book on the making of every one of Charlie Chaplin’s films. With 900 images, including stills, memos, storyboards and on-set photos, as well as interviews with Chaplin and his closest collaborators, it reveals the process behind the Chaplin genius, from the impromptu invention of early shots to the meticulous retakes and reworking of scenes and gags in his classic movies: The Kid, The Gold Rush, The Circus, City Lights, Modern Times, and the The Great Dictator.
More: As many of you know, CMH has given away LOTs more books than listed above (and DVDs and CDs as well), there just wasn’t enough room to include them all here — so please feel free to take a look at them in our various blog posts.
And, stay tuned because there’s LOTs of giveaways slated for next year!
Have a Happy and Healthy Holiday and New Year!
–Annmarie from Classic Movie Hub