This month’s picks feature a variety of books on the history of entertainment, including costume, comedy and Coronation Street. Enjoy!
How to watch a movie / David Thomson.
“From one of the most admired critics of our time, brilliant insights into the act of watching movies and an enlightening discussion about how to derive more from any film experience. David Thomson offers his most inventive exploration of the medium yet: guiding us through each element of the viewing experience, considering the significance of everything from what we see and hear on screen – actors, shots, cuts, dialogue, music – to the specifics of how, where, and with whom we do the viewing. With customary candour and wit, Thomson delivers keen analyses of a range of films, revealing how to more deeply appreciate both the artistry and (yes) manipulation of film, and how watching movies approaches something like watching life itself.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Why stand-up matters : how comedians manipulate and influence / Sophie Quirk.
“Popular as a good night out and packing the TV schedules, stand-up permeates British society and culture. Ubiquitous though it is, we are generally reluctant to consider comedy’s social consequences. This book looks at the social and political impact of stand-up comedy in both its positive and negative forms. Drawing on exclusive interviews with comedians such as Stewart Lee, Josie Long, Joe Wilkinson and Mark Thomas, and examples of comic material on everything from revolution, terrorism and homosexuality, to knitting and the inefficiency of the home shower, it explores comedy’s role in determining our attitudes and opinions.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Orry Kelly : Miss Weston’s protege : the story of a great Hollywood costume designer / Robert Parkinson.
“Orry Kelly, Miss Weston’s Protègè tells the incredible story of one of Hollywood’s greatest designers. Using never before seen materials, photographs and letters, Robert Parkinson has compiled years of research into one of the most detailed accounts of Orry Kelly’s history. Over the course of his career Orry Kelly worked for all of the major studios, including Warner Brothers, Paramount and Fox, dressing many of the well-known female stars in some 312 films. As biographies of movie stars began to appear in the 1980s his fashion styling and costume design came to be highly regarded and worthy of study across several universities and colleges.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The comedians : drunks, thieves, scoundrels, and the history of American comedy / Kliph Nesteroff.
“Based on over two hundred original interviews and extensive archival research, Nesteroff’s groundbreaking work is a narrative exploration of the way comedians have reflected, shaped, and changed American culture over the past one hundred years. From comedy’s part in the Civil Rights movement and the social upheaval of the late 1960s, to the first comedy clubs of the 1970s and the cocaine-fueled comedy boom of the 1980s, The Comedians culminates with a new era of media-driven celebrity in the twenty-first century.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
A to Z great film directors / Andy Tuohy, with text by Matt Glasby.
“A striking, design-led reference book. A-Z Great Film Directors features Andy Tuohy’s portraits of 52 directors significant for their contribution to cinema including kings of world cinema Wong Kar-Wai and Akira Kurosawa, arthouse pioneers Fritz Lang and David Lynch as well as the often under-appreciated female directors Kathryn Bigelow and Jane Campion. So whether you’re already a film afficionado, or looking for a helpful cheat to pass convincingly as an arthouse fan, you’ll love this guide to international directors, past and present.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Deirdre : a life on Coronation Street / Glenda Young.
“From her first appearance in 1972, Deirdre Barlow (nee Hunt) went on to become one of the street’s most iconic stars and been at the centre of some of its most explosive storylines; including her affair with Mike Baldwin, her imprisonment for fraud which prompted the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to raise her case in the Commons and her relationship with daughter Tracy, a woman who has literally gotten away with murder. Deirdre: A Life on the Street is a tribute to one of the most recognised and loved characters on television.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Andy and Don : the making of a friendship and a classic American TV show / Daniel de Visé.
“Andy Griffith and Don Knotts met on Broadway in the 1950s. When Andy went to Hollywood to film a TV pilot about a small-town sheriff, Don called to ask if the sheriff could use a deputy. The comedic synergy between Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife ignited The Andy Griffith Show, elevating a folksy sitcom into a timeless study of human friendship, as potent off the screen as on. Written by Don Knotts’s brother-in-law and featuring extensive unpublished interviews with those closest to both men, Andy and Don is the definitive literary work on the legacy of The Andy Griffith Show and a provocative and an entertaining read about two of America’s most enduring stars.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
And on that bombshell / Richard Porter.
“I was Top Gear’s script editor for 13 years and all 22 series. I basically used to check spelling and think of stupid gags about The Stig. I also got to hang around with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. It didn’t feel like something you should get paid for. From the disastrous pilot show of 2002 to the sudden and unexpected ending in 2015, working on Top Gear was quite a rollercoaster ride. I realised that I had quite a few stories to tell from behind the scenes on the show. I remembered whose daft idea it was to get a dog. I recalled the wilfully stupid way in which we decorated our horrible office. I had a sudden flashback to the time a Bolivian drug lord threatened to kill us. I decided I should write down some of these stories. So I have. I hope you like them.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Strictly Bruce : stories of my life / Bruce Forsyth.
“Bruce Forsyth, the consummate performer and much-loved face of British entertainment, invites you to share with him in a collection of his favourite photographs, which tell the story of a remarkable life lived to the full. Charting his life story from talented young lad growing up in north London to achieving national treasure status, Strictly Bruce is full of dazzling photographs and warm anecdotes spanning eight decades of Bruce’s life, man and boy. It’s a chance to take a trip down memory lane, celebrate the golden age of British showbiz and step behind the scenes of Bruce’s personal life, meeting the people he loves and learning what makes him tick.” (Syndetics summary)
James Dean / Dennis Stock ; introduction by Joe Hyams.
“Magnum photographer Dennis Stock met James Dean in 1954, and they became fast friends. Stock captured Dean’s essence in a stunning series of images of the actor in the midst of family and friends, as well as alone, sleeping, lost in thought, in the frozen fields of Indiana, and on a rainy day in Manhattan. It was an extraordinary collaboration between two people in full command of their respective talents. James Dean reintroduces these iconic photographs, taken at the dawn and high noon of a brief and brilliant career, with Dennis Stock’s original accompanying text and a later introduction by Joe Hyams.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)