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A Siegel Film: An Autobiography Paperback – October, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 500 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (October 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571178316
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571178315
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,263,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

Funny, ever entertaining, immensely readable and revealing autobiography of action/suspense director Don Siegel and how he made or contributed to some 50 or more movies and TV shows. For buffs spellbound by the inner organs of moviemaking, Siegel (b. 1912) chooses a terrific way to tell his saga: by improvised screenplay dialogue. Siegel co-wrote most of his scripts and has a faultless ear for the voices of his fellow directors, co- writers, famous cameramen, producers, and giants like John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Henry Fonda, and Elvis; actors like Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Edward O'Brien, Richard Widmark, Lauren Bacall, and Viveca Lindfors (Siegel's ex-wife); and studio execs like Hal Wallis and ogre Jack Warner. Siegel opens smashingly, with the taming of obscenity-spouting John Wayne for his farewell role as the cancer-ridden gunfighter of The Shootist (1976). Highlights include the making of prison pictures Riot in Cell Block 11 and Escape from Alcatraz; the horror classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers; detective flicks Dirty Harry, Madigan, and Coogan's Bluff; westerns Flaming Star and Two Mules for Sister Sara; crime epics Baby Face Nelson and Crime in the Streets; and oddities such as Clint Eastwood's The Beguiled. Siegel joined Warner Brothers in 1934 and worked his way through all the lesser departments of filmmaking until being put in charge of a second unit that created montages and inserts that glued stories together. For years, his fast-made but inventive montages accounted for more film per year than the footage of each of the studio's first-level directors. Siegel complains about studio heads, draws blood on folks who sold him out, and details the idiocy of trying to make a film (Rough Cut) produced by egomaniac Broadway producer David Merrick. So Dirty Harry isn't Hamlet! One of the top-drawer screen books, from which you rise gorged from an eye-popping Thanksgiving dinner of filmcraft. (Sixty b&w photographs) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Faisal A. Qureshi on May 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
Siegel has written a chapter on nearly very film he was involved in. From his days doing Montage sequences for some classic films (i.e. The Raging Twenties) to getting his first directors gig from the wary studio mogols.
Siegel is an entertaining writer but you feel as if your not getting the full picture from him. Details are skipped over and lost. Some infamous people emerge (i.e. Sam Peckinpah, Ronald Regan, etc.) but other stuff is neglected. For example, I don't think Siegel even mentions John Milius' contribution to Dirty Harry. Peckinpah's trouble with studio brass is hardly covered but there is some interesting stuff on the making of Charley Varrick and The Shootist.
Theres not much information for those interested in film making, but for light reading I would recomend the book but just don't expect too much.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Graham Hill on January 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
To say that Don Siegel is one of the most under-rated directors in HOLLYWOOD history -is a vast under-statement in itself. The studios may have thought of him as "B" class, but as time has prooven just like what his many fans have known all along -he's an "A" plus all the way!

He's a craftsman who knew how to work within the confines of the Studio System. How to deliver on a tight budget and with limited resources he gave us such classics as RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, FLAMING STAR, THE KILLERS, COOGAN'S BLUFF, DIRTY HARRY, CHARLEY VARRICK and ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ. Rising from the editorial department at Warner Brothers in the 1940's, he gave us such montages as that seen in CASABLANCA. Siegel had an editorial eye that allowed him to be so efficient and fast in shooting. Basically, everything that Clint Eastwood has learned about film and directing, has come from his friend and mentor Don Siegel.

Through Siegel's autobiography you'll learn too -just what it was like making those great movies and so much more. It's not a perfect book, but it is just about the only one to date. At least he took the time to document the way it was for him. There are some great "behind-the-scenes" stories even if they are all too brief. Memory fails all of us and he wasn't schooled as an historian, he was too busy making a living.
Don felt very much at home with the CRIME genre and whether he was working for a small studio like Allied Artists or one of the majors, his films always paid off big time in suspense and action. In Europe he was respected just as much as a John Ford or a David Lean, but in HOLLYWOOD he was just taken for granted. A SIEGEL FILM for the reader at least, is more than worthy of anyone's attention.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Coe on March 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a big fan of Siegel's movies and looked forward to reading this.
Sadly it's very pedestrian, perhaps he was already a sick man when he started writing, but he simply fails to communicate any real pleasure in his body of work and is sometimes dismissive of movies that other consider classics.

Only for dedicated fans of the man's work
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