10 Film Books


Following a theme that originated at The Dancing Image, here are 10 books on film that continue to have a great impact, at least in this house.

Who The Devil Made It, Peter Bogdanovich
The desert island tome. By the right person in the right place at the right time. Bogdanovich had the sense to interview many of the first generation of filmmakers as they were fading from the scene in the 60’s and 70’s. Film Class 101.

The Filmgoer’s Companion, Fourth Edition, Leslie Halliwell
This book has been in the reference library seemingly forever. From the early 70’s, it’s a great catalog of movies up to that point, whether you agree with Halliwell’s pinched opinions or not. Crammed with photos that later editions cut back on. Also handy, if you must go to the books, for solving those obscure 20’s actress Will Shortz clues.

Cagney By Cagney, James Cagney
Great actor, great storyteller, great bloke.

This Is Orson Welles, Orson Welles and Peter Bogdanovich
Another classic from Bogdo.

The Emperor And The Wolf, Stuart Galbraith IV
Phone book sized double bio of two giants, Kurosawa and Mifune.

Ingmar Bergman Directs, John Simon
One of the assigned texts from my college Bergman class (weekly screenings of The Magician – Sawdust And Tinsel – Wild Strawberries!…), still on the shelf today.

Taschen Movie Icons series
These pocket sized pictorial filmographies at $10 or less are the definition of value. In my library so far: Garbo, Grant, Welles, Dietrich, K. Hepburn, Bogart. Also essential: Taschen’s over-sized volumes of great movies by decade (I love that they even got around to Movies Of The 20s and Early Cinema, despite its limited sales potential.)

Fellini On Fellini

The Films Of Jean-Luc Godard, Ian Cameron, editor
The Praeger Film Library volumes are nice little filmographies of top directors. And, as always helps, plenty of photos.

Accidental Genius, Marshall Fine
Subtitle: How John Cassavetes Invented The American Independent Film. Grandiose? Yes, but it’s a compelling story even if you’re not a fan of Cassavetes’ films. I love his scrappy debut Shadows, but after that it’s rough going. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to admire his tenacity and courage – it’s an inspiring story.


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3 Responses to “10 Film Books”

  1. MovieMan0283 Says:

    I have a copy of the Halliwell’s but I’ve never dipped into it all that much…actually what I most remember and value it for is the author’s bitter diatribe against 70s cinema (much of which I love) in favor of Hollywood classicism. Exhibit A in the case that so much of my favorite film-writing I flat-out disagree with.

  2. Brad Wrolstad Says:

    The copy I have is from 1974, so not much on 70’s films in it. What makes it great, besides being a fairly comprehensive list of actors and films up to that point, is that this edition is filled with hundreds of archival photos – later editions cut way back so all you had was Halliwell’s bitter opinions.

  3. handtaschen Says:

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the great work Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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