Film-related books I own (and recommend)

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As a lifelong film nerd, I’ve collected some great books on film, screenwriting and Hollywood over the years. Not as many as I’d like but I’m getting there! I thought I’d share some of them with you.

Here they are:

  • 1001 Movies to See Before You Die (three different versions)
  • 501 Movie Stars
  • 501 Movie Directors
  • 501 Must-See Movies
  • Me: Stories of my Life (Katharine Hepburn)
  • Tracy and Hepburn: An Intimate Memoir (Garson Kanin)
  • How to Hepburn (Karen Karbo)
  • Kate Remembered (A. Scott Berg)
  • The Girl Who Walked Home Alone: A Personal Biography of Bette Davis (Charlotte Chandler)
  • By Myself and Then Some (Lauren Bacall)
  • Some Like It Wilder: The Life and Controversial Films of Billy Wilder (Gene D. Phillips)
  • Billy Wilder interviews (Robert Horton)
  • My Life with Judy Garland: Heartbreaker (John Meyer)
  • Screenplay: the Foundations of Screenwriting (Syd Field)
  • Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir (Eddie Muller)
  • Film in Five Seconds (Matteo Civaschi and Gianmarco Milesi)
  • Eleven books in the Taschen Movie Icons Series (Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor, Orson Welles, Marx Brothers, Marilyn Monroe, Ingrid Bergman, James Dean, Humphrey Bogart, Marlene Dietrich and Grace Kelly)

Some of you lovely folks out there have recommended some amazing stuff, and I promise I’ll check them all out (Jon, your John Alton recommendation is top of the list!).

Share your books in the comments!

ONE MOVIE, THREE QUOTES: Dinner at Eight (1933)

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A few years ago, I wrote about Marie Dressler’s performance in Dinner at Eight (1933, dir. George Cukor) and why she’s the stand-out performer for me. And in a film of this calibre, that is quite something. You see, the dinner in Dinner at Eight never happens. The film is actually about the lives of these characters leading up to the dinner itself. We’ve got hostess Billie Burke, her businessman husband Lionel Barrymore, broke stage star Marie Dressler, the other broke stage star John Barrymore, and bickering couple Jean Harlow and Wallace Beery. With all this talent in a Kaufman and Ferber play adaptation directed by George Cukor all of people, it’s damn near impossible to pick just three stand-out quotes. But I’m going to try. (I am leaving out the final exchange between Harlow and Dressler, because, well, it’s too great to put into words.)

– (about her theatre) ‘For six months, they haven’t taken the lock off the door. It’s now known as the spiders rendez-vous. Can’t collect rent from them. You know, when old Stanfield gave me that theatre, I thought it was very magnificent of the old boy. Now I wish I’d taken a sandwich.’ Carlotta Vance – This, to me, is one of the best lines in the film. Not only is this a brilliantly written speech, it also sums up Carlotta’s character perfectly. She is broke and about to sell her stock, and this tongue-in-cheek speech reflects her feelings without getting too dramatic, which is something I’ve always loved about Dressler’s performance in the film. That balance between comedy and drama is magnificent.

– ‘I’ve told you a million times not to talk to me while I’m doing my lashes!’ Kitty – Kitty’s shallowness is often a punchline and this is easily her best line!

– ‘I’ve had the most ghastly day anybody ever had! No aspic for dinner, and Ricky in jail, and Gustav dying for all I know. And a new butler tonight and that Vance woman coming in. And having to send for crab meat. Crab meat! And now on top of everything else, the Ferncliffes aren’t coming to dinner. They call up at this hour, the miserable cockneys, they call up to say they’ve gone to Florida. Florida!’ Millicent Jordan –Ah the woes of hosting a big, high society dinner party, we’ve all been there. Millicent has lost it at this point and Billie Burke brought it! Her delivery, her expressions, her voice… She was made for type of film. And you know I worship her in Merrily We Live (1938)! But I digress.

Go on, go watch Dinner at Eight, if you haven’t. And if you have, watch it again. You can never go wrong with it.