Sunday, November 17, 2013

Six Books for Your Classic Movie Christmas List

It's time to start the Christmas shopping in earnest, and your friends and relations are asking you what you want this year. Maybe you're doing some Christmas shopping for fellow cinephiles, as well. DVDs can be tricky, since everyone with a serious film obsession already owns enough movies to restock a closed Blockbuster location. Whether you're looking for gifts for yourself or others, books can be a great choice. Here are six relatively new books about classic movie topics that you might consider.


VIVIEN LEIGH: AN INTIMATE PORTRAIT - By Kendra Bean, with forward by Claire Bloom

This newest biography of the iconic leading lady is getting great reviews, and I have it at the top of my own wishlist this year. Plenty of  photos enhance the story of Leigh's life and career. The book is currently available in hardback for $22.89 on Amazon, which I think would be preferable to the cheaper Kindle edition because of the illustrations.

A LIFE OF BARBARA STANWYCK: STEEL-TRUE 1907-1940 - By Victoria Wilson

This biography of Stanwyck just came out on November 12, 2013, which means that even hardcore classic movie fans probably don't have it yet. The actress certainly lived an interesting life, so any biography ought to make for exciting reading. Although it retails for $40, you can get the hardcover edition on Amazon for $29.70, while the Kindle edition is just $14.99.


ANN DVORAK: HOLLYWOOD'S FORGOTTEN REBEL - By Christina Rice

If you're looking for a new biography of a more obscure star, you might try this account of the life of Ann Dvorak, perhaps best remembered today for her role in Scarface (1932). This is the first full-length biography of the actress, so it should offer plenty of new information to fans of her films. Published by the University Press of Kentucky, the book retails for $40 but is available in hardcover on Amazon for $35.23. The Kindle edition is $22.99, rather steep for a Kindle ebook but typical of an academic publisher's pricing.

PEG ENTWISTLE AND THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN SUICIDE - By James Zeruk Jr.

Having published two books with McFarland myself, I'm always happy to help get the word out about their authors' publications. James Zeruk is a fellow classic movie fan whose biography of the tragic Peg Entwistle ought to please seriously hardcore classic movie enthusiasts.  Like most McFarland books, the paperback is pretty expensive; Amazon has it for $37.95, but you can get the Kindle edition for $17.99. This book was just released in October, so it's still quite new.

EXTRAS OF EARLY HOLLYWOOD: A HISTORY OF THE CROWD, 1913-1945 - By Kerry Segrave

If you want to get really deep into the obscure people of classic cinema, try Kerry Segrave's account of Hollywood extras. This is also a McFarland title; it was released in April 2013, but it looks like it has flown beneath the radar enough to be something even avid film fans might not know about yet. (McFarland mostly sells to libraries and doesn't really promote its titles to general readers.)


BEYOND CASABLANCA: 100 CLASSIC MOVIES WORTH WATCHING - By Jennifer C. Garlen

My own book came out just a little over a year ago, and people who have bought it tell me they enjoyed it. Beyond Casablanca is meant to be a guide book for both newcomers and veteran fans; as the title suggests, I try to get beyond the most obvious classic movies to discuss films that people might not be as familiar with today. It's available in paperback on Amazon for $16.20 and on Kindle for $4.99.

What books are on your classic movie Christmas wishlist this year?