Posts Tagged ‘James Cagney’

10 Film Books

June 9, 2009


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.

20 (More) Actors

January 30, 2009


I didn’t forget these blokes! There had to be twenty more because I left these guys off the first list.

Cary Grant, James Stewart, Toshiro Mifune, Edward G. Robinson, Buster Keaton, Humphrey Bogart, Clint Eastwood, Charles Chaplin, John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Paul Newman, James Cagney, Gary Cooper, Marcello Mastroianni, Tatsuya Nakadai, Steve McQueen, Robert Ryan, Errol Flynn, Ian McShane, Marlon Brando.

Be sure to check out these other worthy recent film posts:

Allure’s brilliant take on the 20 actors theme.

Kim Morgan’s homage to Clint Eastwood.

The Self-Styled Siren on the 1932 Howard Hawks/Edward G. Robinson collaboration Tiger Shark.

The Art of Memory’s latest stunning gallery of trains in cinema (part 5!).

related: 20 Actresses, 20 (More) Actresses, 20 Actors (coda)

City for Conquest

January 23, 2008

Part of the Tough Guys DVD box set (now reissued as Gangsters Volume 2), this 1940 Warner Brothers obscurity is a taut bundle of New York City energy with a big heart. James Cagney shows restraint and depth as a moderately ambitious fighter whose middling success is overshadowed by his longtime love’s sudden fame as a dancer. The acting is sympathetic from top to bottom. Elia Kazan, in a choice role as a childhood crony of Cagney’s character, doesn’t waste the opportunity. Anthony Quinn is a little stiff (he somehow made it work for him in La Strada) as Cagney’s slick rival but he has pretty good moves on the dance floor and Ann Sheridan does a nice job as the conflicted Peg. The bustle of late 30s Manhattan provides the backdrop throughout this lovable melodrama.