Warning Shadows: Home Alone with Classic Cinema

Warning Shadows: Home Alone with Classic Cinema

by Gary Giddins
     
 

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A brilliantly insightful and witty examination of beloved and little-known films, directors, and stars by one of America’s most esteemed critics.
In his illuminating new work, Gary Giddins explores the evolution of film, from the first moving pictures and peepshows to the digital era of DVDs and online video-streaming. New technologies have changed our

Overview

A brilliantly insightful and witty examination of beloved and little-known films, directors, and stars by one of America’s most esteemed critics.
In his illuminating new work, Gary Giddins explores the evolution of film, from the first moving pictures and peepshows to the digital era of DVDs and online video-streaming. New technologies have changed our experience of cinema forever; we have peeled away from the crowded theater to be home alone with classic cinema. Recounting the technological developments that films have undergone, Warning Shadows travels through time and across genres to explore the impact of the industry’s most famous classics and forgotten gems. Essays such as “Houdini Escapes! From the Vaults! Of the Past!,” “Edward G. Robinson, See,” and “Prestige and Pretension (Pride and Prejudice)” capture the wit and magic of classic cinema. Each chapter—ranging from the horror films of Hitchcock to the fantastical frames of Disney—provides readers with engaging analyses of influential films and the directors and actors who made them possible.

Editorial Reviews

VanityFair.com
[S]hould be in the knapsack or survival kit of every Golden Age Hollywood enthusiast/amateur scholar/completist queen as a standby Bible for instruction, inspiration, and succor.— James Wolcott
Los Angeles Times
Witty, informed, insightful...Warning Shadows makes me want to watch or re-watch nearly every movie [Giddins] discusses.— Lawrence Levi
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Most film fanatics I know keep several film guides within arm's reach of their home cinemas, then use supplementary texts by such writers as Peter Bogdanovich, Gerald Mast and Ephraim Katz. To this batch on my shelf, I have added Warning Shadows.— William Kist
San Francisco Chronicle
Giddins writes with empathy and insight on such cinematic icons as Edward G. Robinson and Joan Crawford, paying close attention to the meanings of their mannerisms and their enduring fascination as creators of quirky behavior. The essays on directors Samuel Fuller and Sidney Lumet are shrewd appreciations of their cinematic styles; unlike most film reviewers, Giddins knows his way around visual language and uses his jazzy sense of verbal style to zero in on cinematic touches that convey a vision of the world.— Joseph McBride
Columbia Journalism Review
[Giddins'] first book wholly devoted to movies is the real deal, a deeply reflective work bristling with the kind of scholarship that also feels spontaneous.... Giddins’s headlong sentences and rapid-fire associations sometimes remind me of Preston Sturges: the apparent chaos is under total control.— Tim Appelo
James Wolcott - VanityFair.com
“[S]hould be in the knapsack or survival kit of every Golden Age Hollywood enthusiast/amateur scholar/completist queen as a standby Bible for instruction, inspiration, and succor.”
Lawrence Levi - Los Angeles Times
“Witty, informed, insightful...Warning Shadows makes me want to watch or re-watch nearly every movie [Giddins] discusses.”
William Kist - Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Most film fanatics I know keep several film guides within arm's reach of their home cinemas, then use supplementary texts by such writers as Peter Bogdanovich, Gerald Mast and Ephraim Katz. To this batch on my shelf, I have added Warning Shadows.”
Joseph McBride - San Francisco Chronicle
“Giddins writes with empathy and insight on such cinematic icons as Edward G. Robinson and Joan Crawford, paying close attention to the meanings of their mannerisms and their enduring fascination as creators of quirky behavior. The essays on directors Samuel Fuller and Sidney Lumet are shrewd appreciations of their cinematic styles; unlike most film reviewers, Giddins knows his way around visual language and uses his jazzy sense of verbal style to zero in on cinematic touches that convey a vision of the world.”
Tim Appelo - Columbia Journalism Review
“[Giddins'] first book wholly devoted to movies is the real deal, a deeply reflective work bristling with the kind of scholarship that also feels spontaneous.... Giddins’s headlong sentences and rapid-fire associations sometimes remind me of Preston Sturges: the apparent chaos is under total control.”
Dave Kehr
…an anthology of informed, engaged, illuminating writings, mainly concerned with American movies of the '30s, '40s and '50s…over all this is a graceful and stimulating book, one that opens a door on an art that is, like jazz, both popular and esoteric, collective and intensely personal, immediately accessible and endlessly intricate.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Critic Giddins (Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Miracles) gleans fresh insights from novel juxtapositions in these essays drawn from his newspaper reviews of DVD collections. The DVD collection’s raison d’etre is to group movies around organizing principles, which here run the gamut from Hitchcock retrospectives to Disney nature docs to Hollywood literary adaptations to charming oddities like a collection of silents starring Harry Houdini. The downside to reviewing them is that Giddins must glance at lesser works with little to recommend them, though he’ll often notice a fine performance, catchy score or radiant lighting scheme gleaming through the dross. The payoff is the themes that emerge as he sifts a wealth of comparisons and contrasts. These range from the failings of Rodgers and Hammerstein (The Sound of Music is “the happiest of all musicals involving Nazis”) to keen evocations of a movie star’s aura, the “casually authoritative stance” of an Edward G. Robinson or the “mulish twisting between bashful affability and cries de coeur” of a Jimmy Stewart. Giddins is the ideal couch companion, erudite but relaxed and witty; his perceptive commentary shows that it’s not what you watch, it’s how you watch it. (Apr.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393337921
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
04/19/2010
Pages:
418
Sales rank:
802,714
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Gary Giddins is the Executive Director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography at the City University of New York. He was the Village Voice jazz columnist for over 30 years and remains a preeminent jazz critic who received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award, and the Bell Atlantic Award for Visions of Jazz: The First Century in 1998. His other books include Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams: The Early Years, 1903–1940, which won the Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award and the ARSC Award for Excellence in Historical Sound Research; Weatherbird: Jazz at the Dawn of Its Second Century; Faces in the Crowd; Natural Selection; Warning Shadows; and biographies of Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker. He has won an unparalleled six ASCAP–Deems Taylor Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Peabody Award in Broadcasting.

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