Friday, January 1, 2010

Book Review: Pictures at a Revolution

I am a complete sucker for film history. The way movies are made are sometimes more epic than the movies themselves. A perfect example for that are the stories surrounding the movies in this book. Mark Harris examines the five movies that were nominated for Best Picture in 1968: The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde, In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and Doctor Doolittle. Yes, I know. One of these is not like the other. Harris addresses this and even Doctor Doolittle plays a part in how these films really changed Hollywood forever.

This is the end of the Hays’s Code and a lot of key players in Hollywood were turning to French filmmakers for inspiration. The influence of Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard spurred more unconventional storytelling and approaches to hot-topic issues. The whole process is riveting. Sure there are the amusing anecdotes of how Rex Harrison acted on the set of Doolittle, but I was really interested in stories like how Dustin Hoffman seemed like such a gamble at first. Such a thing seems preposterous now, but there were major doubts against him. Ultimately this book is a must for film fans especially if you want to see what set the way for 70s cinema.

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