THERE’S NO FRIGATE LIKE A BOOK…

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s time for Christmas. Wait…isn’t that the way we do it here in America? ( Pass the gravy and stuffing, and lets sing “Jingle Bells” ). You might be looking for a gift for your favorite little old movie buff. Well during the year, Fernando has posted his pithy reviews on film books he’s read. Maybe these will give you a few Christmas shopping ideas. Thanks Fernando!

by FERNANDO’s CORNER  ♦  posted November 24th, 2017

I have just finished reading “Golden Images” by Eve Golden and I recommend it absolutely. It’s very well-written, entertaining, absorbing and concise; Ms. Golden profiles several not-very-well-known (at least to the masses) along with well-known actors from the Silent Era, from May Irwin to Valentino and Robert Harron to Nita Naldi. Ms. Golden is one of the best authors of books related to Classic film/actors. This is the second book written by her that I have read (the first was her excellent Bio on John Gilbert) and I definitely am looking forward to reading more books authored by her.

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I have finished reading this great vintage book written by Herman G. Weinberg for the AFI (published in 1974) titled “The Complete Wedding March”, which reconstructs with film stills both “The Wedding March” and “The Honeymoon” (1928) and which is the nearest we’ll ever experience “The Honeymoon” (unless a print surfaces somewhere in the world). It has a lengthy very informative essay on Erich Von Stroheim, his films focusing of course on The Wedding March/The Honeymoon.

A real treasure.

Thanks Kevin Wentink for recommending it to me. I was lucky enough to find a decently priced used copy.

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I finished reading this interesting book “Dangerous Curves Atop Hollywood Heels” by Michael G. Ankerich, that contains summarized profiles of several little known actresses of whom very little has been written, like Eve Southern, Lucille Ricksen, Elinor Fair and better known ones like Barbara La Marr or Marie Prevost. Concise and quite informative, it can be read very swiftly.

Recommended for 1920s fans.

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Sylvia Sydney: Paid By the Tear is another excellent biography by Scott O’Brien. I finished reading this very well written and researched biography of a unique person in which the author succeeds in showing us who Sylvia Sidney was as an actor and as a human being.

What I like about his biographies is that not only can one see he loves writing about these actors’ lives and work, (all of whom were famous in the 1930’s to begin with, which is my principal decade of interest when it comes to Film)  but his love and caring for his subjects is very apparent. In other words, we read about these people’s achievements, good things, mistakes and not so good aspects, but always in a positive light. You will find no bashing or unsubstantiated gossip in Scott’s books, but only the truth he has found through his personal research.

Besides, he has such an amusing writing-style, the total opposite of some dry reads I have experienced. When I’m reading one of his books, it’s as if I were reading an absorbing best-selling novel; they are truly page-turners.

Sylvia Sidney had quite a long career and is one of the few stars/actresses of the early thirties who should be recognizable to more contemporary audiences, due to the fact that she was featured in many TV films & series during the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s, including Joanne Woodward’s mother in Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams (1973) and most notably in two Tim Burton films: Beettlejuice (1989) and Mars Attacks! (1996).

A must-read for true film buffs.

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I recommend this Biography of the today little-remembered Hollywood actor Ricardo Cortez (neeJacob Krantz), in which author Dan Van Neste gives us a detailed portrait of this intriguing character. The book was, indeed a labour of love and a commendable effort, due to the fact that the principal sources that surrounded this actor’s life have long been gone. Besides, Cortez’s private papers were acquired by some private collector and were not available for consulting them.

We get a thorough analysis of Cortez’s professional life and all of his films and as much as possible of his private life, infancy, youth, marriages et al.

Good book. The best source you will find on Ricardo Cortez.

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I believe this is the only proper Bio of DOLORES DEL RIO: Beauty in Light and Shade (aka Dolores del Río) published in English and it is a very good and absorbing read, primarily documented on contemporary publications and her own papers.

Dolores, like Norma Shearer, is an actress to whom I have always been attracted. Even before I first saw both of them on film their names and publicity stills intrigued me deeply. Maybe from another life? Perhaps…. Dolores was very, very beautiful, hard-working and made some very good movies. Although her acting talents were limited, a good director could extract a good performance out of her. She also had a tremendous magnetism and an appealing screen persona.

IMO her best performances are those she gave in “María Candelaria“, “Evangeline” and “The Fugitive.” (Sadly I have not seen “Ramona“, “La Otra” and many others).

I do warn readers that the author commits some annoying and varied mistakes, like stating that Madame Du Barry died stoned, when she was actually guillotined; or stating that “The Whole Town’s Talking” (1925) was directed by (movie mogul) Carl Laemmle, when it was directed by his his nephew Edward Laemmle; or that Mauritz Stiller never directed and complete film in the USA, when he actually completed at least three; or stating that Dolores wore the first two piece bathing suit even used on screen in “In Caliente” (1935), when in fact it had happened two years earlier in “Flying Down to Rio” (1933); etc. Still, these mistakes do not detract that much from her good research in general.

 

 

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