How to Be a Movie Star by William J. Mann Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009 406 pages Biography 3/5 stars
Summary: Not a traditional biography, How to Be a MHow to Be a Movie Star by William J. Mann Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009 406 pages Biography 3/5 stars
Summary: Not a traditional biography, How to Be a Movie Star examines Elizabeth's life in the star system taking particular interest in how she became a movie star while also touching on her infamous love affairs.
Thoughts: I just reviewed Furious Love about Elizabeth and Richard but I wanted to read this too because I've always been fascinated by her. In fact my favorite Barbie as a child was named Elizabeth Taylor (because I thought it was the most beautiful name in the world) and I desperately wanted violet eyes like her (or rather like she allegedly had; also Meg in Hercules fueled that desire).
I appreciate Mann's mission but I didn't think he did a very good job. The biographic parts were good but he didn't tie it back to how she was a movie star very well. She had "it" and that's not easily quantifiable. I also think it may have suffered in not being as interesting as "Furious Love" since I read them so close together.
There was also an awful lot about Hedda Hopper who declined as Liz rose. I understand that she was influential for a time and Mann had access to her archives but she was probably the second most mentioned person in the book and I don't see that she's important enough.
Overall: Interesting for those who didn't live through Liz's life.
Cover: Um, gorgeous? Liz is SOOOOOO beautiful....more
A beautiful book featuring multiple pictures and interesting information about some of the greatest actors of the Classical Hollywood films. These leaA beautiful book featuring multiple pictures and interesting information about some of the greatest actors of the Classical Hollywood films. These leading men are some of the most attractive, interesting, and skilled men to ever appear in cinema. I personally adore the Cary Grant pages as he is my favorite actor....more
Furious Love by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger Harper, 2010 438 pages Non-fiction; Celebrity 5/5 stars
Source: A bribe from my mom to take my sister toFurious Love by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger Harper, 2010 438 pages Non-fiction; Celebrity 5/5 stars
Source: A bribe from my mom to take my sister to see Eclipse
Summary: The legendary love affair of Liz and Dick although they preferred Elizabeth and Richard, with new insights based on their private letters.
Thoughts: LizandDick is a topic I didn't know much about (I'm actually more of a fan of Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, a couple with quite a few similarities) so I was excited to dig in to this. I read the excerpt in Vanity Fair and I was sold! I picked up a copy and sat down. It took me a bit longer to read than I expected because of my busy weekend (and my mom "borrowing" it to read) but I loved it!
I loved most everything-it had background on both of them; psychoanalysis on their addictions; gushing over Elizabeth's general fabulousness; extolling of Richard's talent. It's really a shame that he never got an Oscar-I know I enjoyed his performance in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
I quibble with the needless repetition at times but it didn't stop me from loving this book. It also has one of my least favorite ways of citing sources but this is a celebrity gossip book so I can forgive it.
Overall: Compulsively readable and highly recommended! ...more
Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson Harper, 2010 204 pages Non-fiction; celebrity 3/5 stars
Source: School library
Summary: A look at the making of 'BreakfasFifth Avenue, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson Harper, 2010 204 pages Non-fiction; celebrity 3/5 stars
Source: School library
Summary: A look at the making of 'Breakfast at Tiffany's:' how the producers, director, writer, and stars came to make it and how it impacted cinema and American life.
Thoughts: I think I saw a review of this in People magazine and I put it on my list because it seemed like a breezy read with links to the classic movies I love (actually don't really like BaT but I also need to watch it again). This was a very quick and easy read. I'm not particularly familiar with any of it although I've seen BaT and I don't not like Audrey Hepburn (she's not in my top 10, but maybe the top 20). Reading the backstories was interesting-tracing Hepburn's path to this role and looking at the backstage people is always interesting as they're too often neglected.
But Wasson's argument about how groundbreaking this film was in its depiction of female sexuality is not well argued. Just repeating that it pushed boundaries and was remarkable does not equal a well-reasoned and well-supported argument. It also seemed quite shallow and I kept feeling like there should be more to the story although I wasn't sure what.
Overall: Definitely recommended for the diehard fans of BaT; otherwise don't bother.
Cover: I love the cover-Audrey in the iconic dress with Tiffany blue in the subtitle is perfect! ...more
My Love Affair with Jewelry by Elizabeth Taylor Edited by Ruth A Peltason Simon and Schuster, 2002 230 pages Non-fiction; Coffee Table Book 5/5 stars
SourceMy Love Affair with Jewelry by Elizabeth Taylor Edited by Ruth A Peltason Simon and Schuster, 2002 230 pages Non-fiction; Coffee Table Book 5/5 stars
Summary: Stunning pictures of some of Elizabeth Taylor's favorite jewelry with some of her anecdotes.
Thoughts: After I read two bios of Elizabeth this summer, I was very intrigued by the jewelry that played a role in them. Then I saw that this book existed so I requested it from the library. It's not so much a book as a coffee table book with gorgeous, sometimes magnified, views of some of her jewels and stories from her about them.
My favorite parts were her reminiscences and seeing the Krupp and Taylor-Burton diamonds. I don't know much about jewelry and I don't own any proper jewels but those diamonds were gorgeous.
Besides the jewelry, there are also many rare photographs of Miss Taylor wearing them, most from her private collection. I really liked seeing her with Richard Burton; now that is a love story.
Overall: A gorgeous book that would be worth many examinations of its contents.
Cover: Liz is stunning as always although I probably would have preferred to see her with some of her diamonds....more
The Making of The Empire Strikes Back by JW Rinzler Ballantine Books, 2010 351 pages Non-fiction; Movie 5/5 stars
Like the previous book TheThe Making of The Empire Strikes Back by JW Rinzler Ballantine Books, 2010 351 pages Non-fiction; Movie 5/5 stars
Like the previous book The Making of Star Wars, this book takes an in-depth look at the making of a film with new pressures. The success of "Star Wars" had many implications. Its financial success enabled George Lucas to retain more control as it was a proven commodity but no sequel had ever done as well as its predecessor so the entire operation was dicey. Lucas was drained from directing so he wanted someone else to direct but that also took away some of his control. Most of the cast and crew returned, eager to attempt to top themselves but also struggling with new technical demands.
I was most eager to find out about the script and the creation of Yoda, which is duly covered. For me, there was a bit too much of the technical side but that's my own lack of knowledge. I was able to just look at the pictures (so many!) and skim the text when it became too complicated for me.
Overall: This is another fine look at the Star Wars saga; I'm excited for the third book to come out in 2013 (they're being released on the 30th anniversary). ...more
The Making of Star Wars by J.W. Rinzler Ballantine Books, 2007 353 pages Non-fiction; Hollywood 5/5 stars
This is a massive coffee-table booThe Making of Star Wars by J.W. Rinzler Ballantine Books, 2007 353 pages Non-fiction; Hollywood 5/5 stars
This is a massive coffee-table book but it is covering a big topic: the genesis and making of Star Wars (A New Hope). There are so many pictures, excerpts from early scripts, quotes from many of the principal figures, both on and off screen talent. The best part is that those quotes are culled from interviews from about 1975-79, right as the instances happened and not as involved in the success and hype that followed. Nobody anticipated the runaway success Star Wars was!
While I knew about some of the challenges faced during production, I didn't know the half. In general, the technology of the time was not able to cope with the demands of George Lucas for this film, which resulted in a lot of frustration and compromise. I think that helps to explain Episodes I-III, where the technology was so much more advanced. Some of the parts were confusing to me as there are many people and technologies mentioned that were previously unfamiliar to me. However a careful reading helps to sort that out.
My favorite sections were about the actors and John Williams' score, as they were the parts I sort of knew already. It definitely made me want to go rewatch Star Wars and also listen to the soundtrack because it really is such great music.
Looking forward to The Making of The Empire Strikes Back so I can find out how they created Yoda and came up with that spoiler-you know the one ;) because as of the first film, that wasn't part of the plan. ...more
William and Kate: A Royal Love Story by Christopher Andersen Gallery Books, 2010 301 pages Non-fiction; Royalty 4/5 stars
I know, I know-anoWilliam and Kate: A Royal Love Story by Christopher Andersen Gallery Books, 2010 301 pages Non-fiction; Royalty 4/5 stars
I know, I know-another book about the young royal couple? What can I say-I'm excited! And the wedding is getting so close now! This is the best of them so far, in my opinion.
I thought it balanced the perceived audience desire to read more about Diana with about equal amounts of William and Kate's life; Kate, as always, gets talked about less. She is shown as a woman patiently waiting for her Prince; her life is a backseat and attachment to his and thus his life is the focus. But the love between them also is highly emphasized as can be seen by the subtitle. Kate is praised for the way she has conducted herself throughout the entire affair, although the snipes at her "commonness" continue to bug me.
Oddly the parts that irked me the most involved Harry. Andersen had a tendency to call Harry "The Spare" and recounted the idea that he is actually James Hewitt's son. And of course, their constant drinking and partying is mentioned.
Additionally there are two sections of pictures, most of which are familiar but a few were new to me. Diehard royal fans will probably know all of them. ...more
William and Kate: Celebrating a Royal Engagement by Robin Nunn Pavilion, 2010 144 pages Non-fiction; Pictures 3/5 stars
Unlike the previousWilliam and Kate: Celebrating a Royal Engagement by Robin Nunn Pavilion, 2010 144 pages Non-fiction; Pictures 3/5 stars
Unlike the previous books I've read about the Royal Engagement, this book was originally more focused on Will until the realization of how important Kate is in his life. Additionally this is more of a photo-essay book as large glossy pictures accompany the text. Consequently the writing is much less in-depth and less important than the pictures. There is no essay for the engagement photos other than the caption and date.
What is different is some "new" photographs of young William and his mother (I am not familiar with them, showing that they were not in the previous books I've read but they may be familiar to long-time royal watchers) and even some new ones of Kate. There is also a brief chapter about modern royal marriages in Europe, with the examples of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Monaco, Spain, and Belgium, showing how commoner/royal marriages have been well-received in their countries and how they can serve as models.
I know it's been a month since the wedding itself but this was the first opportunity I had to schedule this book. It's certainly worth at least a skim to see the pictures but the text does not really present anything new.
Cover: Her hair looks so good and the blue is such a gorgeous shade!...more
Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello Open Road 99 pages Non-fiction; Hollywood 4/5 stars
Source: Received a free e-copy via NetgallAlfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello Open Road 99 pages Non-fiction; Hollywood 4/5 stars
Source: Received a free e-copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Read: Today is Alfred Hitchcock Day and I recently rewatched Psycho so I thought this would be a good way to celebrate.
This book is a good summation of the path Psycho took to becoming film. First a real-life crime inspired novelist Robert Bloch to write the novel that Hitchcock would end up optioning in order to create something new for audiences after the failure of Vertigo. He assembled a cast and crew and made the film in a manner more reminiscent of a television program than the usual lavish color films. And it was a huge success-audiences around the world loved it. But Hitchcock was never able to replicate that success in his other later films, instead struggling to find quality scripts and to keep the audience in suspense.
As expected from the title, Hitchcock is the central figure. I was most intrigued by Saul Bass's claim to have directed the famous shower scene based on storyboards he created. I'm in the Hitchcock camp; he had his ideas and it was his picture, his set-no one but him would have final control.
I would have liked to read more about Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh's careers after Psycho. As far as I know, neither worked with Hitchcock again and neither had such success. In fact, I've read that Perkins was typecast and struggled a lot with that post-Psycho.
Overall: A fine work and good reading for those who would like to know more about this iconic film. If you haven't seen Pyscho, you should definitely check it out and then maybe give this book a read. ...more