Film

‘I’m Duke Morrison, and I never was and never will be a film personality like John Wayne. I know him well. I’m one of his closest students. I have to be. I make a living out of him.’ In Scott Eyman’s biography John Wayne: The Life and Legend, these words, uttered by ‘Duke Morrison, aka John Wayne’, serve as an epigraph. They are a curious mixtur ...

To complement James McNamara’s article we invited a number of cultural commentators and film and television professionals to nominate their favourite television drama series. ... (read more)

Zombies by Jennifer Rutherford

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December 2014, no. 367

In recent times the figure of the zombie has pervaded modern culture. Despite their origins as macabre creatures from Haitian myths, and then their modern cultural origins in B-grade horror films, zombies have established themselves as an important element of modern mythology. Jennifer Rutherford’s book aims to explore the reasons for our society’s obsession wit ...

The Selected Letters of Elia Kazan edited by Albert J. Devlin with Marlene J. Devlin

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October 2014, no. 365

‘I get awful intense about these movies I do. I become, in fact, obsessed with them.’ So Elia Kazan (1909–2003) wrote to his daughter in 1957. A workaholic, Kazan was both extremely self-assured and plagued by self-doubt, terrified he would produce mediocrity. He rarely did. As a stage and screen director he achieved remarkable success. Kazan was an egotist, a ...

Lucky Shirley Temple! Film star biographies are usually made up of a chronology laced with doubtful studio publicity and salacious gossip. But The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression is written by a reigning scholar of American culture, John F. Kasson. A professor of History and American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kass ...

FORBIDDEN MUSIC: by Michael Haas & HOLLYWOOD AND HITLER by Thomas Doherty

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August 2014, no. 363

For all their differences of subject matter and approach (not to mention style), both of these studies can be seen as belonging to the category of what might be termed archaeological history. That is, they are concerned with retrieving and bringing to the surface a gallery of characters and set of important stories and connections which have been either suppressed o ...

A Life of Barbara Stanwyck by Victoria Wilson & Barbara Stanwyck by Andrew Klevan

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April 2014, no. 360

How many words does it take to write a life (or actually half a life) of movie star Barbara Stanwyck? Admittedly, she had a long career – she started in a revue chorus in 1921 at the age of fourteen and played in her last episode of the television series The Colbys in 1987 at the age of eighty – but 1044 pages that take us only to 1940? As Liz Smith quipp ...

Ben McCann’s Ripping Open the Set begins with four epigraphs, observations of various kinds. They come from American figures – Frank Capra, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and Nathanael West – and they express a range of notions, none of them particularly positive, about the place of design in cinema. McCann – senior lecturer in French at the ...

Although he used screenwriters, Alfred Hitchcock was a model auteur and engineeredhis films meticulously. ‘Casting and performance, mise-en-scène, lighting, camera angle, construction of setting, and music must all be woven into the director’s “action” as he makes a scene,’ remarks Murray Pomerance in his study of Hitchcock’s American ...

As film critics go, Geoffrey O’Brien is a lover, not a fighter: unconcerned with starting quarrels or settling scores, he simply aims to share his pleasure in what he has seen. Perhaps his remarkably good temper stems from the fact that he is not a full-time critic, but an example of that nearly extinct species, the all-round man of letters. He is editor-in- ...