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Movies that combine American and British casts have always been very popular with film-makers, but somewhat less so with film-goers. The reason, of course, is simple. British stars always added luster to a Hollywood movie at U.K. ticket windows. But the reverse, alas, was not always 100% true. Vera-Ellen and Cesar Romero, for instance, probably did little to enhance the appeal of the British musical, "Happy Go Lovely", at the U.S./Canadian box-office (even though it was also directed by Hollywood's Lucky Humberstone).
This is a mammoth book which, if anything is a little too heavy to handle easily. Nonetheless, the subject of mixed movies demanded a more elaborate treatment.
As a general rule, British movies, even when laced with top-ranking, super-popular Hollywood stars like Frank Sinatra, Gene Tierney, Danny Kaye, Robert Mitchum, Dan Duryea, William Bendix, Phyllis Kirk, Edmund Lowe, Cliff Robertson, Russ Tamblyn, Alex Nicol, Dewey Martin, Otto Kruger, Roddy McDowall, Zachary Scott, Peggie Castle, Vincent Price, Anna May Wong, Orson Welles, William Holden, Woody Allen, George Raft, Carol Lynley, Keir Dullea, Van Johnson, Mia Farrow, Mona Freeman, Joan Crawford, Raquel Welch, Constance Cummings, Edmund Purdom, Sam Hardy, Pier Angeli, Orson Welles, Tab Hunter, Dorothy McGuire, Wayne Morris, Vera Miles and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., took disappointingly little money at the U.S./Canadian boxoffice.
Of course, the above list could be considerably extended, but I’ve confined my list to some of the American stars of movies covered in this book.
Also included in "America's Best, Britain's Finest", are some of the British movies made by British stars who were super-successful in Hollywood, such as James Mason, David Niven, Peter Ustinov, George Sanders, Ron Randell, Peggy Cummins, Barry Fitzgerald, Laurence Olivier, Francis L. Sullivan, Ian Hunter, Jean Simmons, Stewart Granger, Rex Harrison, Boris Karloff, Errol Flynn, Clive Brook, Michael Rennie, Deborah Kerr, Edmund Gwenn, Robert Newton, Leslie Howard, Merle Oberon, Nigel Bruce, Raymond Massey, Angela Lansbury, Margaret Lockwood, Peter Finch, Joan Collins, Jack Hawkins, Paul Lukas, Dame May Whitty, Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll, Charles Laughton, Edna Best, Howard Keel, Jean Pierre Aumont, Christopher Lee, Alec Guinness, Lilli Palmer, Peter O’Toole, Vincent Price, Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress, Valerie Hobson, Michael Wilding, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Nils Asther, Elissa Landi.
The problem of trying to attract readers to a book such as "America's Best, Britain's Finest" is that as a general rule (there are some notable exceptions), American movie-lovers cannot relate to British films, even those disguised with top-ranking Hollywood stars. Why? "Can't understand the accents," most people complain.
On the other hand, British picturegoers have always loved American films. Why? Most people are mystified. But I once received an excellent reply from a cinema manager in London's East End. "People come to the movies to get lost," he told me. "They don't come to see the same dreary streets they live in, day in, day out. They want to be transported to a magic world, or at least a different world. That's what Hollywood supplies. British movies are too realistic, too down-to-earth."
NOTE: The distributor has changed the title of the e-book sold at Barnes & Noble and other stores to "Movies International: America's Best, Britain's Finest". The contents are identical.
The following review by Roy Salmons appeared in the October 2006 issue of "International Movie Making": John Howard Reid's movie books go from strength to strength. If you collect classic movies on film or DVD, or if you just enjoy reading about them, then these are the books for you. Written by a true enthusiast, these classic books include such titles as "Hollywood Movie Musicals", "Movies Magnificent: 150 Must-See Cinema Classics", "These Movies Won No Hollywood Awards: A Film-Lover's Guide to the Best of the Rest", "CinemaScope 3: Hollywood Takes the Plunge", "America's Best, Britain's Finest: A Survey of Mixed Movies", "New Light on Movie Bests", and a round-up of " 'B' Movies, Bad Movies, Good Movies". These books are crammed full of facts about each selection of films, including stars and the characters they play, synopses and critiques. There are many illustrations. All the books in this series have full color front and back covers, with black-and-white photos inside. Paper size is large format. John Howard Reid is to be congratulated!