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John Howard Reid

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Member Since: Feb, 2008

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Category: 

Arts/Entertainment

Publisher:  Lulu ISBN-10:  1411617371 Type: 
Pages: 

156

Copyright:  December 22, 2004 ISBN-13:  9781411617377
Non-Fiction

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New Film Books

A survey of 140 popular feature films from the 1940s, many of which like "How Green Was My Valley", "Rhapsody in Blue" and "Roxie Hart", "Mildred Pierce" and "Anchors Aweigh", are still much in favor today.

 Popular Motion Pictures of the Hollywood 1940s

The above is the title of the ebook edition. The actual contents, however, are identical to the original (and still currently available) large-format trade paperback.

Headed "Fascinating Tour of the 1940s for Movie Buffs", the following review by Maria Trefely-Deutch of "POPULAR PICTURES of the Hollywood 1940s" appeared in the high circulation newspaper, "The Sunday Telegraph":

John Howard Reid’s latest offering is every bit as idiosyncratic as his previous book in this series, "Memorable Films of the Forties", and equally compulsive reading for film buffs.

As in "Memorable Films of the Forties", the present book provides a wealth of information. Did you know that the 1940 movie version of Robert E. Sherwood’s huge Broadway success, Abe Lincoln in Illinois, was not popular in America? According to Reid, the film lost nearly $750,000 in its initial domestic release, but oddly enough, proved far more popular with picture-goers in England and Australia.

In his enthusiasm for the golden oldies, Reid does tend to go over the top with his prose. In his review of Captain Kidd, Charles Laughton is described as "hamming up the part with such lively gusto as to turn an almost featherless screenplay into a veritable feast of robust entertainment." Then again, no film commentator ever made his name by showing restraint. 

While all Reid’s reviews are entertaining and informative, some show exceptional insights.

Excerpt
Brian Jeffrey summed up this book's contents well in his review in "The Times" newspaper: Featuring such classics as "The Sea Hawk", "Fantasia", "How Green Was My Valley", "Cabin in the Sky", "Till the Clouds Roll By", "Talk of the Town", "It's a Wonderful Life", "Roxie Hart", "National Velvet", "Woman of the Year", "Mrs Miniver", "Mildred Pierce", "Anchors Aweigh", "Song of the South", "The White Tower", "The Rains Came", "My Friend Flicka", "Rhapsody in Blue", "Adam's Rib", "Coney Island", "Jungle Book", "The Keys of the Kingdom", "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad", "Yellow Sky" and "Three Little Words", this book presents exhaustive information concerning casts and credits, release dates for the U.K., the U.S.A. and Australia, running times, production notes, and reviews.

Professional Reviews

A Minor Masterpiece in the Film Book Genre
Headed, "A critical look at film world", the following review by John Weyland of "POPULAR PICTURES of the Hollywood 1940s", was published in The West Australian:

Popular Pictures of the Hollywood 1940s is a minor masterpiece in the film book genre. Although the author finds much excellence in the films he has chosen, he is also not afraid to criticize harshly. A fine example of Reid's vitriol comes with his review of Mr Ace, which starred George Raft and Sylvia Sidney: "It's unbelievably dull. Makes you wonder how any producer not madly besotted with his leading lady would agree to finance such a tepid, actionless, talky screenplay. As a political drama, it packs no punches, as romantic fluff, it generates no heat."

Generally, however, Reid finds much to admire in the films he writes about. He is a full-fledged movie buff, but not a drooling one. His selections range from Son of Dracula ("a minor masterpiece of the 'B' Gothic cinema") to Tarzan Triumphs ("the climax in which Johnny Weissmuller taunts the Nazi before leading him to a gruesome death, has a prolonged, psychologically violent intensity rare in the kiddies' matinee movie").

All told, more than 150 films are featured in this surprising book. They all contain exhaustive information on credits, casts, box-office figures and release dates. The Sea Hawk is here. So are Raffles, Mildred Pierce, Lulu Belle, Mrs Miniver, Andy Hardy, Charlie Chan, Kit Carson, Roxie Hart, The Gay Sisters, The Marx Brothers, Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Roy Rogers, My Friend Flicka and The Howards of Virginia, to name but a few.


Informed and Charismatic John Howard Reid
Headed, "Much to entertain for the film buffs", the following review by Peter Dean of "Popular Pictures of the Hollywood 1940s" appeared in "The Courier-Mail" newspaper when this book was first published:

This sixth book in the Hollywood Classics series is as pertinent, illuminating and controversial as its immediate predecessor, "Memorable Films of the Forties".

It has been compiled by the informed and charismatic John Howard Reid. I suspect that Reid and his researchers are heavily male because many inoffensive and obliging actors are labeled dull. Walter Pidgeon, for one. The antipathy exhibited towards him in "Memorable Films of the Forties" is continued, even when he earns a left-handed compliment for his performance in "How Green Was My Valley", in which (while dull, of course) he was "brilliantly cast".

Reid labels Jon Hall as colorless; Don Ameche, boringly brash; Alan Curtis, pathetically wooden; George Brent, stiff as a board; Joseph Calleia, hammy; Gig Young, dreary; Richard Carlson, ludicrous; Lewis Stone's Judge Hardy, nauseous; Gregory Peck, "no more than adequate" as Father Francis Chisholm in "Keys of the Kingdom"; and Cary Grant, "atrociously miscast" in Frank Lloyd's spectacular 1940 production of "The Howards of Virginia".

On the other hand, Reid finds Spencer Tracy, Gene Lockhart, Claude Rains, Cedric Hardwicke, Raymond Massey, Norman Lloyd, Jack Carson, Bruce Bennett, Zachary Scott, Lionel Barrymore, John Garfield, Adolphe Menjou, David Niven, Dudley Digges, John Hodiak, Wendell Corey, Ronald Colman, William Bendix and Noel Coward consistently pleasing. Thereís little to argue about there.

Proving gallantry isn't dead, Reid expresses warm regards for a swag of actresses, including Dorothy Lamour, Ilona Massey, Marilyn Monroe, Barbara Stanwyck, Ann Blyth, Ginger Rogers, Jean Arthur, Doris Day, Katharine Hepburn and most particularly Alice Faye ("so electrifying") and the incomparable Ingrid Bergman, both of whom, in Reid's eyes, could do no wrong.

In his review of "Keys of the Kingdom", Reid provides a most interesting section on how Hollywood used to pander to the vested interests of organized religion, particularly the Catholic Church. Reid describes the movie as a milksop version of A.J. Croninís novel in which "not a single one of his points or arguments are allowed even a shadow of expression on the screen". Yet Foxís publicity department had the audacity to hail the novel as "one of the most excitingly discussed books of our times!" even though every single reference, word or incident that excited discussion had been scrupulously removed from the film by executive producer, Darryll F. Zanuck. This review of "Keys of the Kingdom" is film criticism at its best.

Indeed there is much to savor and respect in this book. John Howard Reid speaks his mind intelligently and entertainingly. Even if you donít always agree with him, your outlook has been so stimulated that it may never be quite the same again.


Lionel Farrell in "The Newcastle Herald"
Headed, "A guide to Forties flicks", the following review by Lionel Farrell, appeared in "The Newcastle Herald":

Although this book and its predecessor, "Memorable Films of the Forties", concentrate on the 1940s, there will be no complaint from me on that score. To some aficionados the films of the Thirties may have represented the golden age of Hollywood, but for me it is those of the Forties. Whatever the genre, the Forties had classics in abundance, as a flick through the pages of "Popular Pictures of the Hollywood 1940s" will reveal.

Like the previous book, this one features more than a hundred films. While not all really warrant the adjective "popular", every one of them receives the full treatment and is dealt with in the fully comprehensive way readers have come to expect from this series. Not only is every entry totally informative, but frequently illuminating.

And also like the previous book, the critical reviews of the films themselves are both well written and entertaining. One of the fun things about the series is the succinctness of some of the plot synopses. That unforgettable masterpiece, "Sound of Pago-Pago", is summed up in a way that says it all: "Bad white men steal-um natives' pearls." For the Disney classic, "Dumbo", John Howard Reid's one-line synopsis reads: "Baby elephant, ostracized because of his big ears, is befriended by a go-getter mouse." Or how about "Destination Tokyo" in which "One U.S. submarine takes on the entire Japanese navy in Tokyo Bay." Or the Bette Davis vehicle, "Deception", for which "Cellist marries old love, not realizing she has acquired a 'new' past." Or one of my favorite musicals, "The Belle of New York", neatly summed up as "Playboy falls for Mission lass."


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Reader Reviews for "POPULAR PICTURES of the Hollywood 1940s"

Reviewed by John Howard Reid 9/11/2010
A Complete Index to "Popular Pictures of the Hollywood 1940s":

Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940), Adamís Rib (1949), Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad (1949), Africa Screams (1949), Anchors Aweigh (1945), And Baby Makes Three (1949)

Behave Yourself (1951), Belle of New York (1952), Bells of Rosarita (1945), Berlin Hotel (1945) {see Hotel Berlin}, Bill and Coo (1948), Black Hand (1950), Black Magic (1944), Black Magic (1949), Bright Leaf (1950), Buck Privates (1941)

Cabin in the Sky (1943), Cagliostro (1949) {see Black Magic}, Captain Kidd (1945), Charlie Chan in Black Magic (1944) {see Black Magic}, Coney Island (1943), Copacabana (1947), Crash Dive (1943), Cry Wolf (1947), Curse of the Allenbys (1946) {see She Wolf of London}

Darling How Could You (1951), Deception (1946), Desert Fury (1947), Destination Tokyo (1943), Dude Goes West (1948), Dumbo (1941)

Fantasia (1940), Father Is a Prince (1940), Flying Deuces (1939)

Gay Sisters (1942), Green Grass of Wyoming (1948)

He Ran All the Way (1951), Heís a Cockeyed Wonder (1950), Hitlerís Children (1943), Holiday Affair (1949), Hollywood Cavalcade (1939), Homecoming (1948), Hotel Berlin (1945), Howards of Virginia (1940), How Green Was My Valley (1941)

Ichabod and Mr Toad (1949) {see Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad}, International Lady (1941), In Which We Serve (1942), Itís a Wonderful Life (1947), Itís Magic (1948) {see Romance on the High Seas}, I Want a Divorce (1940)

Jungle Book (1942)

Kansan (1943), Keys of the Kingdom (1944), Kit Carson (1940)

Lady of Burlesque (1943), Last of the Buccaneers (1950), Laughing Lady (1946), Life Begins for Andy Hardy (1941), Love Happy (1950), Lucky Stiff (1949), Lulu Belle (1948)

Magnificent Doll (1946), Magnificent Lady (1946) {see Magnificent Doll}, Make Believe Ballroom (1949), Man on the Eiffel Tower (1949), Meeting at Midnight (1944) {see Black Magic}, Mildred Pierce (1945), Ministry of Fear (1944), Miniver Story (1950), Mr Ace (1946), Mrs Miniver (1942), My Friend Flicka (1943)

National Velvet (1944), Night in Casablanca (1946)

Out of the Blue (1947), Ox-Bow Incident (1942)

Raffles (1940), Rains Came (1939), Rendezvous (1951) {see Darling How Could You}, Rhapsody in Blue (1945), Romance on the High Seas (1948), Rookies (1941) {see Buck Privates}, Roxie Hart (1942), Rudyard Kiplingís Jungle Book (1942) {see Jungle Book}

Saigon (1948), Salerno Beachhead (1945) {see Walk in the Sun}, Saludos Amigos (1943), Samson and Delilah (1949), Sea Hawk (1940), Sentimental Journey (1946) Seven Daysí Leave (1942), She Went to the Races (1945), She Wolf of London (1946), Since You Went Away (1944), Sitting Pretty (1948), So Great a Man (1940) {see Abe Lincoln in Illinois}, Somewhere Iíll Find You (1942), Song of Texas (1943), Song of the South (1946), Son of Dracula (1943), South of Pago-Pago (1940), South of Santa Fe (1942),
South of Tahiti (1941), Spirit of the People (1940) {see Abe Lincoln in Illinois}, Stage Door Canteen (1943), Strange Incident (1942) {see Ox-Bow Incident}, Striptease Lady (1943) {see Lady of Burlesque}

Talk of the Town (1942), Tap Roots (1948), Tarzan Triumphs (1943), Thirteenth Letter (1951), Three Came Home (1950), Three Little Words (1950), Thunderhead Son of Flicka (1945), Till the Clouds Roll By (1946), Tin Pan Alley (1940), Tree of Liberty (1940) {see Howards of Virginia}, Tulsa (1949), Tycoon (1947)

Under Capricorn (1949)

Walk in the Sun (1945), White Savage (1941) {see South of Tahiti}, White Tower (1950), Woman of the Year (1942)

Yellow Sky (1948)

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