The Films of Agnes Moorehead

The Films of Agnes Moorehead

by Axel Nissen


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780810891364
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 07/16/2013
Pages: 382
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Axel Nissen is a professor of American literature in the Department of Literature, Area Studies and European Languages at the University of 'slo in 'slo, Norway. He is the author of Actresses of a Certain Character: Forty Familiar Hollywood Faces from the Thirties to the Fifties (2007) and Mothers, Mammies and Old Maids: Twenty-Five Character Actresses of Golden Age Hollywood (2012), among several other books.

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The Films of Agnes Moorehead 2.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Web_M More than 1 year ago
A disappointing addition to the print works on Agnes Moorehead. There is some interesting information in this book, but it tends to be repetitive and to go off topic. The film reviews don't always address Ms. Moorehead's performances, which would be one of the main reasons for reading. In one chapter there is a long description of a lunch meeting between the author and a cast member, down to what they ordered to eat and drink, while an interview with Olivia de Havilland, who appeared in two films with Ms. Moorehead, says nothing of what it was like working with her. There are quite a few harsh remarks throughout the book, poking fun at the actress and some of her co-stars. Also spotted some errors and typos. Although the author seems to have put in a lot of effort, there is not much in the book to recommend it to someone who generally likes Ms. Moorehead's work and wants to learn more about her film performances, especially not if they have already read her previous biographies. It's difficult to imagine that Ms. Moorehead would be pleased with this treatment of her golden age of Hollywood career.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Professional-Tourist More than 1 year ago
Not recommended for established AM fans. This book focuses on the sixty-three major motion pictures of Miss Moorehead's career in the form of an introduction followed by individual chapters for each film. Although the author has conducted much research into primary sources (archives and personal interviews) the book as-written relies heavily upon secondary sources such as previous Moorehead bios, bios of other actors and of directors, and prior studies of these films -- as documented throughout. There is some new information here and a few rare photos, but the majority of the content -- though uniquely presented -- has long been available to the general public. At seventy-two dlrs it is not a good value for those who have read Lynn Kear, Charles Tranberg, and James Robert Parish's Moorehead efforts. Further limiting its value, of the 382-page length -- which is already slight for the expenditure -- sixty-three pages are dedicated to photos (poorly reproduced in my copy of the print edition) and roughly fifty pages list credits and technical data which are readily available online. There is repetition within the book, too, particularly between the introduction and the film chapters, where there are several instances of word-for-word copying, as well as some rehashing of info from a film's profile within the chapters of related films. The introduction states "Each profile concentrates on Moorehead's contribution to the film in question." This does indeed occur in some chapters, but not in all of them. Some profiles ("Mrs. Parkington," "Tomorrow, the World") may describe the character and her physical appearance but contain no comment on her performance. Other chapters focus more on cinema history or comparison of the scripts to original properties. For example, the chapter on "The Magnificent Ambersons" contains a three-page riff on earlier representations of spinsters in film. While this type of info may be of interest, it makes the book more a themed cinema study than a study of Miss Moorehead's film work. Beyond the questions of value and audience (and others outside the scope of this review, such as personal interpretations and reliability of sources) the issues most significant to me as a fan are the over-arching unkindness and disrespect toward the subject and her associates (shockingly unprofessional) and the sprinkling of factual errors. [No room in this forum for samples.] On balance, I find the book serves up little to sustain this AM admirer, who couldn't wait for its release and ended up sorely disappointed. One wonders what would motivate a person to conduct extensive research on an artist seemingly disliked. Although the author does at times present Miss Moorehead's work in a postive light, in my view those instances are overshadowed by the preponderance of negativity. A frustrating, distasteful read from start to finish.
jrparish1 More than 1 year ago
Most remember actress Agnes Moorehead for her delectable performances as Endora, the mother of Elizabeth Montgomery in the enormously popular TV series, ‘Bewitched’ (1964-1972). But Moorehead, who also performed in radio and on the stage, appeared in over 60 feature films between 1941 and 1973, It is this aspect of her lengthy acting career that Axel Nissen scrutinizes in this detailed, highly informative Films of book. For each film, the author provides a self-contained essay as well as credits for the movie under examination. And it is extremely clear, Nissen knows his material very well. Not only does he rely on his own astute analysis, but he includes data (with citations) gathered from his personal interviews with those who knew/worked with Moorhead, books dealing with the actress and/or her films, and Moorehead’s archive of correspondence/memorabilia. His writing style is lucid, his facts well documented, and he is not adverse to employing wry humor when the occasional calls for it. While one would expect to find in this volume solid, lengthy essays on Agnes Moorehead’s screen work with Orson Welles (‘Citizen Kane’, ‘The Magnificent Ambersons’, ‘Journey Into Fear’), author Nissen also carefully assesses her less well known cinematic excursions (e.g., 1945’s ‘Our Vines Have Tender Grapes’, 1947’s ‘Dark Passage’, 1956’s ‘The Revolt of Mamie Stover’, 1961’s ‘Bachelor in Paradise’, 1964’s ‘Hush. . . Hush, Sweet Charlotte’). Throughout the book, the author points out how Moorehead’s screen performances were shaped by the Hollywood conventions of the times, whom her acting rivals were for such roles, and the strengths and weaknesses of the character star in her film assignments. To his credit while Nissen is passionate in this well-balanced examination of Moorehead, he does not shy away from acknowledging when she was less than ideal in a particular film assignment. This enhances the objectivity of this well-balanced book. It is often said that a picture can say a thousand words, and this certainly holds true with each of the intriguing scene or publicity shot of Moorehead that the author provides at the start of the essay on each of her films. Many of these photos are so spot-on, that they in themselves provide almost all that one needs to know about Moorehead’s contribution to the movie under discussion. The format of this tome allows the reader to dip into any chapter in any order and have an enjoyable, informative read. One couldn’t ask for anything more from a book. Agnes Moorehead would have been proud of this volume!