First, the structure: the book has a lengthy, detailed introduction on what noir is, its importance to American film history, how it developed, etc. T...moreFirst, the structure: the book has a lengthy, detailed introduction on what noir is, its importance to American film history, how it developed, etc. Then the bulk of the book, which is an alphabetical listing of 300+ noirs with plot summary and analysis; these vary from perhaps 200 to as many as 1000 words, depending on the author's/editors' impressions of the significance of the film. Following the main section are appendices describing major genres which occasionally interacted with noir but are not considered to be true noir by the editors (the gangster film, the western, the period film, the comedy), and then a listing breaking the pictures up by director, writer, stars, composer, cinematographer, and studio. There is a comprehensive index.
This well-produced large format book remains the standard introductory work to the style, I think, despite the almost 30 years since this edition, and 15 since the most recent. The analysis is nearly always on the money from what I can see, and the authors' insights into what makes noir, noir, are forthrightly and convincgly stated. A couple of points that may be controversial: proto-noirs and neo-noirs are included within the bulk on the main text, thus "M" and "Taxi Driver" rub shoulders with "On Dangerous Ground" and "Laura"; and foreign noirs, including British productions like "The Third Man" are completely omitted. I believe the updated editions make some changes in these areas. And a word of warning: don't read the plot descriptions until after you've seen the films!
Essential. The copy I read is a 2nd printing hardcover of the 1st edition.(less)
Gervasio Gallardo is a Spanish artist (born 1934) best known in America, if he is known at all, for his paperback cover illustrations, in particular f...moreGervasio Gallardo is a Spanish artist (born 1934) best known in America, if he is known at all, for his paperback cover illustrations, in particular for many of the "Ballantine Adult Fantasy" series of the late 1960s/early 1970s edited by Lin Carter. This handsome volume in Peacock Press' tremendous series of books on illustrators and fantasy art showcases only a few of his works for that series -- 9 covers reproduced in full or 1 1/2 page size (the book is 9x11 so these are nice-sized pictures) along with closeups in some cases -- but no fan of the BAF series should be disappointed, as Gallardo's other work is just as appealing and mostly of a piece with the book cover illustrations. He is a surrealist very much in the tradition of Magritte and Dali, but more whimsical, "lighter" than either, with a powerful sense of light and color and a keen sense of architecture that sometimes verges on a different kind of surrealism -- MC Escher. Betty Ballantine's introduction doesn't really add much to our understanding of the work, but perhaps it doesn't need any help.
A quick search shows no other books on Gallardo, so this is well worth looking for.(less)
Frank and Joe investigate a series of counterfeit $20 bills that have been circulating in Bayport; meanwhile, their father "famous detective Fenton Ha...moreFrank and Joe investigate a series of counterfeit $20 bills that have been circulating in Bayport; meanwhile, their father "famous detective Fenton Hardy" is working on a case that will end up converging with theirs. I don't remember these books too well, but I'm guessing this kind of thing happened often; in any case, it's fairly well done here. Most of the plot, alas, was pretty cardboard even when I first read it 34 years or so ago. I'm not sure if I realized then that, jeez, those Hardys are spoiled rich kids - they've got motorcycles and a powerboat at the ages of 17 and 18, and this back around 1960 (when this edition of the book was written). Still, the cliffhanger-at-the-end-of-every-chapter structure is exciting enough for a 10-year-old, I guess, or was before "Star Wars", digital technology, the Internet etc changed everything. I supposed that's why the more recent series is updated, more violent, etc. Can't imagine most kids reading these original books today without thinking they're pretty silly.(less)
Frustrating but ultimately pretty decent sequel to the fascinating "City of Ember", this picks up right after the finish of the first volume, as the e...moreFrustrating but ultimately pretty decent sequel to the fascinating "City of Ember", this picks up right after the finish of the first volume, as the entire populace of the dying underground city make their way out of harm's way, into the upper world. "Sparks" covers the travails of the next few months, as the Emberites encounter a small town struggling to get by, with a population even smaller than the 400 survivors of the underground world. There are two major problems with the book I think, first that it is far less original in feel and setting -- the postapocalyptic worlds of films like the "Mad Max" series, and countless SF novels from the past century aren't ever very far off; and second, the whole premise of the arguments between the two communities rests on the notion that the leaders of Sparks are arrogant and unwilling to speak with the Emberites as equals, or even really as other intelligent people. While it is true that the Emberites are ignorant of many things (such as seasons, which become a big plot point that is not dealt with particularly realistically), it's also clear that they have their own special knowledge, and yet they act demoralized and the people of Sparks act superior from the get-go. The apocalypse is only two centuries past; surely someone besides the two young heroes of the first book, Lina and Doon, would have some notion of cooperation?
Still the book has some narrative drive, Ms. Duprau's pacing is fairly solid and she manages to keep up interest in the plot despite the basic storyline/originality issues I have with it, and she also succeeds I think in creating some fairly interesting characters (Maddy, Mrs Hester) without seeming to try very hard. There is still some promise in this series, and I'll be keeping up with it.(less)
I've been a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs and his "planetary romances" since childhood, and have wanted to check out the works of his most popular imita...moreI've been a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs and his "planetary romances" since childhood, and have wanted to check out the works of his most popular imitator for some time. A couple of years ago I picked up most of the Kline books from eBay, in the old Ace short paperbacks with the neat Krenkel covers -- anyway, this is weaker than I expected on the whole. The action never flags -- more triumphs and reverses in this 160 pages than in the typical ERB volume -- but missing is anything much in the way of characterization, descriptive power, or narrative intelligence. Characters appear to save other charactes at the most opportune moments -- typical in the genre -- but there's little in the way of time-sense or geographic sense here and it just didn't cohere. The characters are uniformly wooden and poorly or not at all described, and very little here seemed even remotely original; slavish is only going a little too far. I hope the rest are better...(less)