I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History

Overview

This is a moving, star-filled account of one of Hollywood’s true golden ages as told by a man in the middle of it all. Walter Mirisch’s company has produced some of the most entertaining and enduring classics in film history, including West Side Story, Some Like It Hot, In the Heat of the Night, and The Magnificent Seven. His work has led to 87 Academy Award nominations and 28 Oscars. Richly illustrated with rare photographs from his personal collection, I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History reveals ...

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I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History

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Overview

This is a moving, star-filled account of one of Hollywood’s true golden ages as told by a man in the middle of it all. Walter Mirisch’s company has produced some of the most entertaining and enduring classics in film history, including West Side Story, Some Like It Hot, In the Heat of the Night, and The Magnificent Seven. His work has led to 87 Academy Award nominations and 28 Oscars. Richly illustrated with rare photographs from his personal collection, I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History reveals Mirisch’s own experience of Hollywood and tells the stories of the stars—emerging and established—who appeared in his films, including Natalie Wood, John Wayne, Peter Sellers, Sidney Poitier, Steve McQueen, Marilyn Monroe, and many others.
    With hard-won insight and gentle humor, Mirisch recounts how he witnessed the end of the studio system, the development of independent production, and the rise and fall of some of Hollywood’s most gifted (and notorious) cultural icons. A producer with a passion for creative excellence, he offers insights into his innovative filmmaking process, revealing a rare ingenuity for placating the demands of auteur directors, weak-kneed studio executives, and troubled screen sirens.
    From his early start as a movie theater usher to the presentation of such masterpieces as The Apartment, Fiddler on the Roof, and The Great Escape, Mirisch tells the inspiring life story of his climb to the highest echelon of the American film industry. This book assures Mirisch’s legacy—as Elmore Leonard puts it—as “one of the good guys.”

Best Books for Special Interests, selected by the American Association of School Librarians, and Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the Public Library Association

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Walter Mirisch’s love of movies led him to make some of the best films that the industry has produced. Whether as producer or as an executive of one of the best production companies in town, he has seen it all and now can tell it all to you from his own fiercely independent perspective.”—Steven Spielberg
 

“From Bomba, the Jungle Boy to Some Like It Hot and In the Heat of the Night . . . Walter Mirisch produced many of the films which dazzled and inspired me (and I’m not kidding about Bomba. I loved those movies as a kid.)When I later acted in one of his (lesser) productions, The Spikes Gang, I learned that a prolific and brilliant producer could also be a terrific guy and a wonderful teacher.No surprise then that Walter has given us a wise and utterly engrossing look at his life . . . and extraordinary experiences in this film business.”—Ron Howard

“Walter Mirisch has written the quintessential behind-the-scenes book on the glory days of Hollywood. If you ever wanted to know everything there was to know, this will surely be touted as a ‘bible’ of our industry—for Walter tells it as it really was, with the integrity for which he is known and loved. It is an engaging story; insightful and entertaining, poignant with personal anecdotes.”—Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards

School Library Journal

Mirisch has acquired the reputation of a hands-on, meticulous producer, having put together more than 100 films (including Some Like It Hot, West Side Story, and The Great Escape), 28 of which have won Oscars. He has received several prestigious career awards and served four terms as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Here, he writes about his humble beginnings as the child of Polish Jewish immigrants and making bread-and-butter pictures at grade-B studios. Working his way up Hollywood's ladder, he eventually employed such notable talents as Billy Wilder, William Wyler, and Norman Jewison. Mirisch describes the decline of the studio system, the traits necessary to be a successful independent producer, and the seismic shift in audience tastes at the end of the 1960s that left Mirisch and others with some expensive flops. Industry insiders may be interested in the trade information he presents, but knowledgeable film buffs will also enjoy Mirisch's observations on Hollywood's late golden age; recommended for public and academic libraries with in-depth film history collections.
—Stephen Rees

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299226404
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 2/8/2008
  • Series: Wisconsin Film Studies
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.26 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author


Walter Mirisch is the producer, in whole or in part, of more than one hundred films. Among his company’s honors are three Oscars for best picture—The Apartment (1960), West Side Story (1961), and In the Heat of the Night (1967). Mirisch has also received two honorary Academy Awards, the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award (1977) and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (1983); and has been honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award (1977) presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the David O. Selznick Lifetime Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures (1995) presented by the Producers Guild of America. He has been decorated by the Republic of France with its Order of Arts and Letters, has received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and is a recipient of the UCLA Medal, that university’s highest award. Mirisch served three terms as president of the Producers Guild of America and four terms as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
 
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Read an Excerpt


“Legendary producer, visionary filmmaker, courageous seeker of truth, especially in troubling times.”—Sidney Poitier, from the foreword
 
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