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Celluloid Skyline: New York and the Movies Hardcover – Bargain Price, December 4, 2001


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Hardcover, Bargain Price, December 4, 2001
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (December 4, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394570626
  • ASIN: B000B8K79U
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 8.2 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,071,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A practicing architect, co-scripter of Ric Burns's New York: A Documentary Film and coauthor of that PBS series's companion volume now takes on the many movies showing New York in both location scenes and Hollywood sets. Sanders posits a mythic cityscape within the movie world, and his lengthy book is an attempt to enter, chart and define that world. To bring "the movie city to life in words," Sanders devoted a decade to talking with veteran studio art directors and filmmakers, exploring studio lots, visiting specialized archives in L.A., New York and London, sifting through private collections, tracking rare movie stills and studying the construction drawings used to build sets. The book begins with visions of urban utopias, cities in literature and on canvas and 1890s "actualities" of New York street life, then moves on to Hollywood back lots, where transatlantic liners and the streets of New York were built as standing sets (he later addresses the problems of location filming). The illustrations include beautiful production drawings, demonstrating how studio talents designed dance floors, nightclub interiors, Art Deco apartments, polished penthouses and sprawling skylines. Art departments at RKO and other studios sketched everything from subway kiosks to grand hotels, and Sanders displays their superb drawings of the past and contemporary reality along with gleaming visions of the future. Fact-filled photo captions add to the entertaining and educational text, making this work a delight throughout. 330 photos, extensive notes, bibliography and 13-page filmography. (Nov. 27)Forecast: The usual buyers of movie books are certain to be impressed when they spot this huge volume looming like a miniature skyscraper in the film/media shelves of bookstores. Chip Kidd's cover is a knockout.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From The New Yorker

In these densely illustrated pages, Sanders proposes that there have been two New Yorks throughout the twentieth century—the real city where we live, and a dream, or movie, city, made up of images and models and sets and mattes. He traces the history of the dream city from "At the Foot of the Flatiron" (1903) to "Smoke" (1995), and shows the places where the two cities' histories overlap and where they argue. To his great credit, he sees the dream city not as a myth in need of deconstruction but as a commentary in need of explication—a kind of parallel universe, neither more nor less fantastic than the subject it mimics and enlarges. The dream city, he points out, usually responded to New York realities—the city of "Taxi Driver" is as much a dream as the city of "42nd Street" and contains the same kind of encoded truth. Sanders also includes a running critique of New York in film. He is subtle—his analysis of the difference between the Manhattan of "Annie Hall" and the Manhattan of "Manhattan," two years later, is worth the price of admission—and, to judge by the movies he praises ("Rear Window," "The Clock," "King Kong," "Do the Right Thing"), he is also sound.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Michael S. Goldfarb on July 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If there was ever a book that really needed to be written, and was then executed nearly flawlessly, this is it. Documenting the multi-threaded releationship of New York City and Hollywood (the movie biz began in NYC, and the studios' financial offices remained there; much of the writing/directing/acting talent came to Hollywood from NYC; Hollywood's backlot NYC was the setting of thousands of films; the ideas of the Hollywood versions eventually changed the real thing; etc.), this is a heckuva fun and interesting read.
Among its most fascinating parts are information on the techniques used to create believable NYC settings by the studios (e.g., the most detail I've ever seen on Hitchcock's enormous Rear Window set), examples of the vast amount of architectural and local-color detail contained in the studio's art department photographic files (more than in some of NYC's museums!), and its general architectural analysis of NYC's major iconic structures: skyscrapers, rowhouses, tenements, train stations, nightclubs, etc.
But of even greater interest are the detailed treatments of how NYC was SHOWN in films (both well-known classics and obscure titles) of different genres and eras, and how the IDEA of NYC affected the world audience, and eventually changed the city itself as new generations flocked to their city of dreams... A flip through the photographs alone is a total pleasure.
This is a great book for film buffs, fans of NYC, architecture students, and those interested in 20th century social history. (I'm all of those things, and I LOVED it!)
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Peter D'Epiro on February 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautifully written book on the portrayal of New York City in the movies. The author is extremely knowledgeable about the architecture of NYC (in fact, he is a New York architect), about the geography and history of NYC, and about film, both in its historical and technical aspects. The writing is imaginative, lyrical, thoughtful, and intelligent--this is a labor of love that took 15 years to complete. If you have any interest at all in New York City or in film, do yourself a favor and buy this book. It made me want to go out and rent at least 60 of the films discussed in it, and it reminded me of many great films set in NYC that I've enjoyed in the past and will want to see again to note some of the characters, themes, landmarks, or stage sets that Sanders describes.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By ctyankee on October 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you have an interest in films, architecture or New York City then the purchase of this film is a no-brainer. The book is packed with photographs of movies and film sets that feature the buildings of New York. Another reviewer mentioned the Alfred Hitchcock set shot from the film Rope. I would add the shots from Fountainhead and Week-end at the Waldorf as being special and stunning.
James Sanders said that he spent 15 years writing and researching this book and it shows. His points are well written and quite informative.
I would strongly suggest the hardcover edition for its slightly larger size and the quality of the Knopf binding.
First editions can be purchased used at a very attractive price. Like I said, no-brainer.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Roman Holliday on February 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This fascinating exploration of the interrelationship between the city of New York as an urban center and its portrayal throughout the history of moviemaking is filled with perceptive insight and thoughtful analysis. Highly recommended.
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