Movie Love in the Fifties

Movie Love in the Fifties

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Publisher: New York : A.A. Knopf ; Distributed by Random House, Inc., 001
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780394585918
Characteristics: xi, 448 p. : ill. ; 25 cm
Alternative Title: Movie love in the 50's


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Dec 18, 2014

Though the 50s has a reputation as repressed, optimistic, and bland, it was a great period for American film and it produced such masterpieces as "Vertigo," "Rebel Without a Cause," "The Searchers," and "Touch of Evil," among others. So I was excited to read this book, which takes as its subject the actors, actresses, directors, and films (each one gets a section) of the 50's. Harvey's idea is sound, but his execution is lacking. Too often he simply recounts the plot, rather than offering much insight, illumination, or analysis. Despite quoting Nabokov, Godard, and Gore Vidal, there's a lack of intellectual rigor that undermines what could've been a much more nuanced and thoughtful book. It is generously illustrated with photographs, there's some juicy behind the scenes gossip, and it will send you back to some of these films, which is maybe its greatest accomplishment. If you want better film writing, J. Hoberman, Pauline Kael, Jonathan Rosenbaum, and Manny Farber all have good books.


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