Reading the Movies

Movieman0283 has posted an excellent piece Reading the Movies in which you are charged with the task of compiling "A list of the movie books which had the greatest impact on me."

So, without further ado, here are the 10 most influential films books for me:

1. The Parade's Gone By by Kevin Brownlow - without exposure to this book, my love and lust for the art of silent film would never have matured. I cannot but add that Brownlow's additional two books in what I call "the Brownlow Trilogy" are must reads. I cheat a bit and name them here, as well: The War, The West and The Wilderness and Behind the Mask of Innocence.

2. Hollywood Babylon by Kenneth Anger - I do not know a soul who has not read this piece of fiction. It was one of the first film books I found on the local library shelves, it was salacious and gloriously illustrated (well, in some parts, some were horrifying). This book taught me to read autobiographies and just about any other book with a wary eye. It helped me develop my own personal bullshit meter. Of course, initially, I fell for it hook, line and sinker, I was only 15.

3. Louise Brooks by Barry Paris - I still consider this to be one of the finest film biographies ever written. Brooks was flawed and Paris pulls no punches, it is a compelling read. A fascinating woman on screen and off.

4. The Silent Clowns by Walter Kerr - I lack the slapstick gene, really. Kerr's book was one of the first to cover the art of silent comedy and it helped me, one of the slapstick impaired understand the joys of Laurel and Hardy and Buster Keaton.

5. The Art of the Hollywood Photographer by John Kobal - Kobal's unerring eye for beauty in this volume opened my eyes to the art of glamor photography. This book has inspired me for my own project.

6. The Fred Astaire Ginger Rogers Book by Arlene Croce - A step by step exploration of the dance and what it all meant in the Astaire/Rogers films. A fabulous book I return to quite often.

7. Spellbound in Darkness by George Pratt - A terrific overview that is still incredibly readable.

8. The Art of Alfred Hitchcock by Donald Spoto - Quite simply still one of the best examinations of Hitchcock's films. Well worn, it is a favorite.

9. A Pictorial History of the Silent Screen by Daniel Blum - the photos made me want to see everything. Growing up made me lament the loss of so many, now extant in stills.

10. A Million and One Nights by Terry Ramsaye - the 1926 history of the business of cinema, written from within the industry, but a fascinating work. An original edition is still on my wish list.


Joel Bocko said…
You now know a soul who has not read Hollywood Babylon. Although after seeing all these lists (it's on several) I suppose I'll have to bite the bullet.

The only book on here I've read is the Astaire/Rogers one, following my binge on their work this past winter.

In fact, I put up a post compiled from clips of all their dances here:
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