Book picks similar to
The Blue Angel by S.S. Prawer


Singin' in the Rain

Peter Wollen - 1992
    Yet despite dazzling success with the public, it never received its fair share of praise from the critics. Gene Kelly's genius as a performer is there for all to see. What is less acknowledged is his innovatory contribution as director. Peter Wollen has finally done justice to this landmark film. In a brilliant shot-by-shot analysis of the famous title number, illustrated by specially produced frame stills, he shows how skillfully Kelly binds the dance and musical elements into the narrative, and how he successfully combines two distinctive traditions within American Dance, tap and ballet.Scriptwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and indeed Kelly himself, were all under threat from the McCarthyism which menaced Hollywood at this time. The ethos in which the film was conceived could not long survive in the era of blacklisting. Wollen argues convincingly that "Singin' in the Rain" was the high point in the careers of those who worked on it.

The Magnificent Ambersons

V.F. Perkins - 1999
    Second only to "Citizen Kane" in work, this film can never be seen as he intended it after being heavily cut by RKO. However, it remains a remarkable picture of dynastic ruin and social change.

Eyes Wide Shut

Michel Chion - 2002
    To appreciate this, though it is necessary to look at what happens on the screen without bringing preconceptions to bear.

The Big Lebowski

J.M. Tyree - 2007
    Its fans tend to be fanatical, congregating at 'Lebowski Conventions' in bowling alleys across American and Britain, and even dressing up as characters from the film. Among the funniest films of the last twenty-five years, and one of the high-water marks of 1990s genre recycling and pastiche, The Big Lebowski is also littered with playful and subversive references to film history, especially to Raymond Chandler's world of hardboiled detective classics and the world of film noir. The Big Lebowski is the rarest kind of film, a comedy whose jokes become funnier with repetition. The same goes for its multitudinous jukebox-like references to other films, many of which open up vistas for intertextual interpretation. Underneath the film's breakneck pacing and foul-mouthed characters, a farcical collection of flakes, losers, and phonies, is a surprisingly humane account of what fools we mortals be. It is one of the oddest buddy films ever made, with extraordinary performances by Jeff Bridges and John Goodman. In this study, The Big Lebowski is set into the context of 1990s Hollywood cinema, anatomised for its witty relationship with the classics which it satirises, and discussed in terms of its key theme: the hopeless flailing of ridiculously unmanly men in the world of discombobulated, mixed-up, or put-on identities that is Los Angeles.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Peter Krämer - 2010
    It has been celebrated for its beauty and mystery, its realistic depiction of space travel and dazzling display of visual effects, the breathtaking scope of its story, which reaches across millions of years, and the thought-provoking depth of its meditation on evolution, technology and humanity's encounters with the unknown. 2001 has been described as the most expensive avant-garde movie ever made and as a psychedelic trip, a unique expression of the spirit of the 1960s and as a timeless masterpiece. Peter Krämer's insightful study explores the complex origins of the film, the unique shape it took and the extraordinary impact it made on contemporary audiences. Drawing on new research in the Stanley Kubrick Archive at the University of the Arts London, Krämer challenges many of the widely-held assumptions about the film. He argues that 2001 was Kubrick's attempt to counter the deep pessimism of his previous film, Dr Strangelove (1964), which culminates in the explosion of a nuclear 'doomsday' device, with a more hopeful vision of humanity's future, facilitated by the intervention of mysterious extra-terrestrial artifacts. This study traces the project's development from the first letter Kubrick wrote to his future collaborator Arthur C. Clarke in March 1964 all the way to the dramatic changes Kubrick made to the film shortly before its release by MGM in April 1968. Krämer shows that, despite – or, perhaps, because of – Kubrick's daring last-minute decision to turn the film itself into a mysterious artifact, 2001 was an instant success with both critics and general audiences, and has exerted enormous influence over Hollywood's output of science fiction movies ever since. The book argues that 2001 invites us to enjoy and contemplate its sounds and images over and over again, and, if we are so inclined, to take away from it an important message of hope.


Antonia Quirke - 2002
    Under extreme pressure on a catastrophic location shoot, Universal's 27 year-old prodigy crafted a thriller so effective that for many years Jaws was the highest-grossing film of all time. It was also instrumental in establishing the concepts of the event movie and the summer blockbuster. Jaws exerts an extraordinary power over audiences. Apparently simplistic and manipulative, it is a film that has divided critics into two broad camps: those who dismiss it as infantile and sensational - and those who see the shark as freighted with complex political and psychosexual meaning. Antonia Quirke, in an impressionistic response, argues that both interpretations obscure the film's success simply as a work of art. In Jaws Spielberg's ability to blend genres combined with his precocious technical skill to create a genuine masterpiece, which is underrated by many, including its director. Indeed, Quirke claims, this may be Spielberg's finest work.

The Big Sleep

David Thomson - 1997
    This text shows how The Big Sleep signalled a change in the nature of Hollywood cinema, as the director Howard Hawks shot extra scenes, "fun" scenes, to replace the ones in which the murders are explained, and in so doing left the plot unresolved.


Charles Barr - 2002
    Released in 1958, Hitchcock's masterpiece is a pinnacle of the cinema. Yet in it Hitchcock abandoned his trademark suspense, allowing the central mystery to be solved halfway through. What remained was a study in sexual obsession, as James Stewart's Scottie pursues Madeleine/Judy (Kim Novak) to her death in a remote Californian mission. Novak is ice-cool but vulnerable, Stewart - in the darkest role of his career - genial on the surface but damaged within.

Spirited Away

Andrew Osmond - 2008
    Spirited Away, directed by the veteran anime film-maker Hayao Miyazaki, is Japan’s most successful film, and one of the top-grossing ‘foreign language’ films ever released.  Set in modern Japan, the film is a wildly imaginative fantasy, at once personal and universal.  It tells the story of a listless little girl who stumbles into a magical world where gods relax in a palatial bathhouse; where there are giant babies and hard-working soot sprites, and where a train runs across the sea. Andrew Osmond’s insightful study describes how Miyazaki wrote, storyboarded and directed Spirited Away with a degree of creative control undreamt of in most popular cinema, using the film’s delightful, freewheeling visual ideas to explore issues ranging from personal agency and responsibility to what Miyazaki sees as the lamentable state of modern Japan.  Osmond unpacks the film’s visual language, which many Western (and some Japanese) audiences find both beautiful and sometimes bewildering.  He traces connections between Spirited Away and Miyazaki’s prior body of work, and provides an account of the film’s production and the creative differences between Miyazaki and his collaborators, arguing that Spirited Away uses the cartoon medium to create a compellingly immersive drawn world.

Pulp Fiction

Dana Polan - 2000
    He shows how broad Tarantino's points of reference are, and analyzes the narrative accomplishment and complexity. In addition, Polan argues that macho attitudes celebrated in film are much more complex than they seem.


Richard Dyer - 1999
    A serial killer on a warped moral mission who turns his victims' "sins" into the means of their murder. The movie Seven is analyzed here covering topics such as sin, story, structure, seriality, sound, sight and salvation.

Casablanca Companion: The Movie Classic and Its Place in History

Richard E. Osborne - 1997
    Whether you've watched "Casablanca" countless times or you're going to see it for the first time, "The Casablanca Companion" will both deepen your understanding and heighten your enjoyment.

Once Upon a Time in Italy: The Westerns of Sergio Leone

Christopher Frayling - 2005
    With an American TV actor named Clint Eastwood and a script based on a samurai epic, Leone wound up creating "A Fistful of Dollars", the first in a trilogy of films (with "For a Few Dollars More" and "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly") that was violent, cynical, and visually stunning. Along with his later masterpiece, "Once Upon a Time in the West", these films came to define the Spaghetti Western

The Hollywood Scandal Almanac: 12 Months of Sinister, Salacious and Senseless History!

Jerry Roberts - 2012
      The real-life scandals of Hollywood’s personalities rival any drama they bring to life on the silver screen. This book provides 365 daily doses of high and low crimes, fraud and deceit, culled from Tinseltown’s checkered past.   Whether it’s the exploits of silent-era star Fatty Arbuckle, the midcentury misdeeds of Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe, or the modern excesses of Lindsay Lohan, this calendar of Hollywood transgressions has a sensational true tale for every day of the year. It’s an entertaining and sometimes shocking trip down memory lane filled with sneaky affairs, box-office bombs, and careers cut short—sometimes by murder. It shows that the drama doesn’t end when the credits roll.

The Silence of the Lambs

Yvonne Tasker - 2002
    In this study, Yvonne Tasker explores the way the film weaves together gothic, horror and thriller conventions to generate both a distinctive variation on the cinematic portrayal of insanity and crime, and a fascinating intervention in the sexual politics of genre.