The Recommended Reading Department
Beating the Devil – The making of Night of the Demon by Tony Earnshaw
Though not strictly falling within our usual points of reference, sometimes a book comes along which is so good, you tell all your friends about it – so that’s what I’m doing.
Tony Earnshaw, Head of Film Programming at the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, writer and editor of several authoritative books on film – and long-time supporter of WSMM - has produced what is sure to be considered the definitive book on the making of a cult horror classic, with BEATING THE DEVIL – The making of Night of the Demon.
I know that Tony has been a long-time fan of Demon, so I’m certain that this book has been something of a labour of love. What was initially intended to be a fairly brief monograph has gradually evolved into one of the most thorough ‘making of’ books that I have ever read. He has managed to interview most of the surviving cast and crew who were involved in the 1956 production – nearly fifty years ago – and has accumulated an astonishing amount of information, photographs, set designs and posters. There is literally everything – but everything – in here that you might wish to know about one of the truly great British horror films.
A fascinating study, which would be a welcome addition to the library of any film fan. Essential reading.NMPFT/Tomahawk Media (contact the Museum for current price details)
Films Of The Fifties by Douglas Brode
I've previously recommended Douglas Brode’s Lost Films Of The Fifties. Well since then I’ve managed to track down a copy of his earlier book, Films Of The Fifties. This one is just as essential reading as its successor, looking as it does at the more well known Fifties movies. All the classics are in here: Sunset Boulevard, Singing In The Rain, Ben Hur, along with some of the more elusive productions such as Baby Doll, Blue Denim and The World, The Flesh And The Devil – as well as This Is Cinerama! Citadel Press ISBN 0-8065-0621-0. Originally published in 1976, my copy is a 1992 softcover edition, bought on the Internet for $10
The Films Of Gina Lollobrigida by Maurizio Ponzi
This excellent book by Maurizio Ponzi, The Films Of Gina Lollobrigida, is the next best thing to the non-existent biography of this beautiful star. In some ways it's better, considering the incredible number of pictures it contains; much more than the average biography. Ponzi has included pretty much everything you might want to know about ‘La Lollo’, along with synopsis, cast and credits and reviews of all her films – there’s even an interview with the lady herself. Citadel Press 1982 softcover ISBN 0-8056-1093-5. I bought this for $13
This excellent book provided much of the background material for the Around the World in Eighty Days article. Cohn, who was one of Todd’s closest friends, gives a fascinating insight into the character of a truly unique showman and the many reverses of fortune that would have crushed the average entrepreneur. Everything is here: the brilliant successes and the disastrous failures; the relentless, driving ambition and simple honesty of a very human, human being. Art Cohn was accompanying Todd when the plane they were flying in crashed, killing all on board. The book was completed by his widow, Marta.
It was originally published by Random House in 1958, and while copies are still in circulation, prices vary alarmingly, depending on condition. I paid around £5 plus postage for the one I have, but some go for in excess of £50. Shop around!
Pier Angeli: A Fragile Life by Jane Allen
My favourite actress is the subject of Jane Allen's Pier Angeli: A Fragile Life. A long overdue biography of the beautiful Italian star whose career ended tragically - and all too early - in 1971 at the age of 39. The author has had the full co-operation of Pier’s family, and an excellent biography is the result. On the downside, it’s published by McFarland and as anyone familiar with their publications will know, they are ridiculously overpriced. I obtained my copy through Addall Booksearch for $26 plus postage, but you can normally expect to pay $40 and up – and this is for a softcover book. If you order through Amazon UK, they advertise it at around £26 or so – plus postage and a long wait. Not easy to find, this one. ISBN 0-7864-1392-1
So You Wanna Be A Film Director? by Ken Annakin
Anyone who loves films will want to have this delightful book in their collection. Annakin is one of Britain’s top directors, who came to the fore during that period which I regard as the Golden Age of British Films; the 50s and 60s. He has produced a highly entertaining memoir, which details his early life and adventures, his break into films and his travels around the world making them.
Ken Annakin worked with most of the top stars in the world, and produced many of the most popular and well-remembered films of all time. They are all in here - and described in great detail - from Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines (1964) to The Longest Day (1962); from Robin Hood And His Merry Men (1952) to The Battle Of The Bulge (1965), and many, many others. Annakin takes us behind the scenes with wit and affection, for this is a film-maker who obviously loves his trade. Originally published in 2001, I finally got around to searching out a copy for myself – I know I’m slow, but I get there in the end – and I enjoyed it so much I wish I’d taken the trouble to buy it sooner.
Published price is around £16.99, but I got mine from Amazon Marketplace, brand new for a fiver plus a couple of quid postage. An essential book, really.
Tomahawk Press, PO Box 1236, Sheffield, S11 7XU England. ISBN0-953 1926-5-2.
The Stories Behind The Scenes Of The GREAT FILM EPICS by Mike Munn
If, like me, you are a fan of the big, spectacular epic movies that they used to make so well, but now seem to have lost the recipe for, then this book is a must-have. Mike Munn’s highly entertaining, The Stories Behind The Scenes Of The GREAT FILM EPICS was published in 1982 in a 191-page soft cover version (There’s probably a hard-cover version out there, too), which is the one that has been in my collection since then. The title tells you exactly what it’s about, and Munn’s anecdotes and interviews, combined with a splendid and profuse selection of stills make for a fascinating read. All the big ones are covered in here, from Gone With The Wind to The Vikings, from Ben-Hur (both of them) to The Great Race This book may have been out of print for a long time, but there’s sure to be still some out there. Absolutely worth tracking down. Argus Publications 1982. ISBN 0 85242 729 8
Here's a list of some good books on 3D that you might like to track down if you would care to study the subject in more, er, depth.
Amazing 3D by Hal Morgan and Dan Symmes - this one is still available to order and has loads of anaglyph 3D pictures. Extremely enjoyable.
Fantastic 3D - a Starlog Guidebook. A sort of slimmer version of Amazing 3D, but with additional information on 3D systems. This one is extremely rare nowadays but worth trying to get hold of. We borrowed some anaglyphs from both these books, but don't tell anyone.
The April 1974 issue of American Cinematographer - this one might turn up on eBay sometime. Don't hold your breath.
3D Filmmakers: Conversations with Creators of 3D Motion Pictures. A new book by the almost legendary 3D virtuoso Ray Zone, and which contains exactly what the title might imply. Excellent reading, particularly the parts relating to the new types of 3D technology. No pictures. At all.
A History of Movie Photography by Brian Coe. Great for a comprehensive overview of the subject, especially the widescreen and 3D bits. Very well illustrated, too.
Stereoscopy by N.A.Valyus. 3D movies from the Russian perspective. Very thorough and quite readable, but with few pictures and only a couple of anaglyphs. Some libraries might have a copy of this book. I know that Manchester Central Library has - or did have last time I borrowed it. Mind you, that was about fifteen years ago.
Foundations of Stereoscopic Cinema by Lenny Lipton. A highly regarded book on 3D cinematography; very thorough and considered to be essential reading for budding stereo movie makers. Tons of formulae and calculations - cripes! I found it totally incomprehensible, so it must be brilliant.
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John Hayes/Wide Screen Movies Magazine
Last revised: 20 November, 2009
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