||December 4, 2004
Barnes & Noble.com
Amazon Kindle $2.99 ebook
NOOK Book by Barnes & Noble
New Film Books
Featured on the full-color cover of this large-format printed book (and also on the Amazon Kindle ebook) is "Casablanca", which of course is not only a memorable movie but an award-winning movie. However, it is not the only award-winning picture (scrupulously detailed with loads of cast and camera credits plus full release and background information) in these pages. Other award winners reviewed in this book include "The Black Swan", "All About Eve", "The Paleface", "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn", "The Hasty Heart", "Yankee Doodle Dandy", "Gentleman's Agreement", "The Gunfighter", "Home in Indiana", "The Heiress", "The Three Musketeers", "The Bridge of San Luis Rey", "Captain from Castile", "Centennial Summer", "Come to the Stable", "Comrade X", "The Corsican Brothers", "Easter Parade" and "The Picture of Dorian Gray". Please note that the distributor has changed the cover on some ebook editions (such as NOOK) to a beautiful full-color portrait of Ingrid Bergman. (The book is still exactly the same inside).
Despite a determined challenge from "Laura" and "The Picture of Dorian Gray", "Casablanca" seems to be holding firm to its number one position as a Favorite Film of the Forties. Mind you, it wasn’t always so. When I attended uni, the number one cult movie of the decade was "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein". It was closely followed by "Cobra Woman", while "Laura" made an equally tight third. "Cobra Woman" is still currently a top pic in France, but elsewhere it now rates nowhere.
How come? What most people don’t realize about "Best Film" and "Favorite Film" lists is that the entertainment or artistic quality of a movie figures as a peripheral factor to its current availability – either through constant airings on TV and screenings at revival cinemas and/or marketing on DVD. "Cobra Woman", for example, is only available at present in France. Hence its current high rating in that country and nowhere status everywhere else.
Unfortunately, these false impressions of popularity are fueled by books, magazines and websites that ask people to vote for their favorites. Obviously, people are not going to vote for a movie they’ve never seen, with the result that these lists always so strongly favor movies that are currently available, they are useless as guides to "movies you must see."
This is where a book like "Memorable Films of the Forties" serves a useful purpose. Here you’ll find full details, summaries and reviews not only of the movies mentioned above, and similar fare like "Yankee Doodle Dandy", "Meet Me in St Louis", "All About Eve", "Easter Parade", but of pictures like the once super-popular "Forever Amber", "Belle Starr", "Dark Waters", "The Yellow Cab Man" and "The Unsuspected", as well as the critically acclaimed "The Breaking Point", "Caught", "The Lost Moment", "Whispering Ghosts".
Scores of other interesting, must-see movies await re-discovery in these pages. Some, of course, are still occasionally aired on TV, while others, like "The Breaking Point" have actually been re-mastered for a DVD release.
What memorable films they were! Here you’ll find complete details and all the background information anyone could desire on such outstanding films as Casablanca, The Paleface, Laura, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Cobra Woman, Meet Me in St Louis, The Glass Key, Belle Starr, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, The Lost Moment, Panic in the Streets, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Ghost Breakers, The Three Musketeers, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Easter Parade, The Egg and I, All About Eve, The Cat and the Canary, Forever Amber, The Heiress, Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum, Comrade X, The Breaking Point, Centennial Summer, Copper Canyon, Caught, The Gunfighter, Hold That Ghost, Dark Waters, The Unsuspected, Without Reservations and many other memorable motion pictures. Many of these movie classics are now available on DVD.
One for Film Buffs by Doug Kennedy
The following review appeared in "The Gold Coast Bulletin":
Why pay $19.95 for a movie book when you can obtain some (but by no means all) of its information free on the net? "Memorable Films of the Forties" is by no means as comprehensive a survey as the net, but not much about the films it covers is left out. In addition to the information the net provides, such as a synopsis, detailed cast and crew lists, release dates, title changes and running times, this book provides fascinating titbits and production information that cannot be found elsewhere.
Furthermore some of these details are more complete. For instance, for the acclaimed 1949 picture, "The Heiress", which won many awards that are not detailed on the net, the net only provides English-language release dates for the USA and Australia. Unaccountably, British release details are not provided – and not only for this picture but for many other films! This book also provides not only the USA general release date, but the New York date (which was several months before the general release) and the New York showcase (in this instance, the Radio City Music Hall).
Another important date the net never provides and this book always does, is the copyright date.
Of course, detailed information is not the only thing. This book’s strongest points lie in its interesting reviews of the movies themselves.
Furthermore, "Memorable Films of the Forties", doesn’t just concentrate on the headliners like Laura, Casablanca, Easter Parade, Meet Me in St Louis, Yankee Doodle Dandy, All About Eve, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Three Musketeers, All About Eve, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Paleface, and Gentleman’s Agreement, but also focuses on popular pictures like Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, The Egg and I, Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, Cobra Woman, The Accused, The Unsuspected, Panic in the Streets, Without Reservations, The Yellow Cab Man, The Ghost Breakers, Dark Waters, Forever Amber, The Glass Key, Belle Starr, The Breaking Point, and Home in Indiana.
All in all, this is a book that is bound to find a wide audience.
Fascinating Facts, Bordering on the Bizarre by Maria Trefely-Deutch
The following review appeared in the high circulation newspaper, "The Sunday Telegraph":
Forget all about the coffee table glossies, this book should appeal equally to the serious student of cinema and to the general reader. "Memorable Films of the Forties: is a somewhat quirky collection of information on 100 films seen as being representative of the '40s. They range from the "greats" like "All About Eve" and "Laura" to the "B" grades like the Falcon and the Blondie series. One negative point: the book has only 24 illustrations of which 11 (including the beautiful full-color front and back covers) are of "Casablanca". Some fans may find this too much of a good thing. The photos, mostly full page, also include "Belle Starr", "Laura", and a fabulous Mexican poster for "Cobra Woman". But this lack of quantity so far as illustrative material, pales beside the quality and wealth of information the book provides, including for each film full credits, notes, a synopsis, reviews, plus awards and even running times for the USA, England and Australia. These can vary widely from country to country, due to the activities of the censors of the time. Much of this information is fascinating, bordering on the bizarre. Remember the 1948 version of "The Three Musketeers"? The villain of the Dumas novel and other movie versions was the scheming Prime Minister, Cardinal Richelieu. In this version, however, as a sop to the Legion of Decency, Richelieu has been stripped of his robes and is now plain Monsieur Richelieu! I'm really looking forward to the next book in this series, "Popular Films of the Hollywood 1940s".
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