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Chess in the Movies Paperback – September 1, 2005


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Paperback, September 1, 2005
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 422 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers' Press Wonderworks (September 1, 2005)
  • ISBN-10: 1888710284
  • ISBN-13: 978-1888710281
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,772,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dr. Bob Basalla in his real life is a dentist but he has been collecting extracts of chess in the movies for several decades and even used some of these "anecdotes" as filler when he was the editor of various chess publications in Ohio (where he still resides). Eventually, the readers made more comments about the "chess in the movies" items than any other aspect of the ches spublication! He also tied for a share of the Ohio State Chess Champinship title in 2003.

Customer Reviews

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David Dial on February 17, 2006
This book reviews about 2,000 films which contain scenes with chess games or chess references. Dr. Basalla, former editor of the <em>Cleveland Chess Bulletin</em>, provides critical reviews of each film, and often offers an insightful commentary on the role chess plays in the film. Where the chessboard could be clearly seen, an illustration of the layout of the position of the pieces is provided, along with analysis of the game as it stands and any insight it provides to the action on the stage.

Any collector of books on chess or cinematography would find this comprehensive, 422 page book invaluable. The entries are arranged by film title, but are cross indexed by actor / actress / director, film genre, and even by location of play. My son, who is not a chessplayer, spent hours with this book reading the film reviews.

One caveat to the prospective buyer: there are no movie stills. The author (a personal friend) says that a goal in publication was to keep the price of this limited-edition book as low as possible. At under $35, the average chess or film enthusiast can afford a copy. As a bonus, inside the book the author has provided personal contact information, so that the purchaser can have a dialog with an expert regarding <em>Chess In The Movies<em>.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mark F. Putnam on June 12, 2006
While admittedly for a narrow audience (readers who are both film buffs and chess players, and are obsessive to boot), if you are in that audience, I would recommend you buy this book. At 400+ pages, it is very extensive and enjoyable to dip into. Longer entries on films like The Seventh Seal and Searching for Bobby Fischer overcome the flaw of not having any photographs from the films discussed (frustrating when he describes a set as looking "unusual").
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ronald van Vollenhoven on August 13, 2008
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You wouldn't believe how many movies Basalla has managed to find where chess is featured, but here they are listed and briefly commented upon (and by the way, I have no idea how he did it - did he actually watch all movies in the world from beginning to end, or what?). If you like chess and assuming you don't completely hate movies then this book is a barrel of fun to browse through (obviously, it's not a cover-to-cover read). You can have it lying somewhere and pick it up every once in a while and you always find something interesting and amusing. Basalla's commentaries are mostly witty and to the point, and there is some interesting analysis. And why are the chess boards in movies placed incorrectly (the left lower corner being a white rather than a black square) much more than half the time??
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Best Of All on November 28, 2007
A dentist by profession, Dr. Bob Basalla fills in a huge gap for fans in this 400-plus-page review of chess in cinema and on TV.

It is essential reference material which focuses on text for the nearly 2000 movies and TV shows. Though also done to keep the cost of the book reasonable, I feel it is successful, since Dr. Basalla writes with a conciseness that needed a good number of pages to convey his impressive research.

This is a very unique topic and Dr. Basalla provides the readers with what is ultimately a winning gambit through his obvious enthusiasm on the subject.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Rasmussen on June 10, 2010
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It is with mixed feelings I write this review. It is obvious Mr. Basalla has devoted much time to this labor of love on his two favorite hobbies: Chess and Film. It is the only book of its kind so I should be a bit forgiving; unfortunately there are far too many errors and omissions in this rather expensive paperback to take a flyer.

Errors have already been noted by chess historian Edward Winter, such as the wrong name for the actor who portrayed Tomlin Dudek in the 1973 Columbo episode, "The Most Dangerous Match." Jack Kruschen is the actor, not Lloyd Bochner. This is for starters. Woody Allen's co-writer is listed as Clyde Brickman when his first name is Marshall. Katharine Hepburn is spelled Katherine. Then there's Canadian Grandmaster Frederick Yates in Pudovkin's silent film, "Chess Fever" (1925). The problem? He's not Canadian but British. Lastly, there is no acknowledgment of PBS's American Playhouse for producing the fine adaptation of Mark Twain's "Pudd'nhead Wilson."

These problems may appear to be minor and perhaps they are compared to obvious character misrepresentations. One character in a major foreign film is unrecognizable. The following sentence written by Mr. Basalla describes the squire in Bergman's "The Seventh Seal" (1956, Swedish): "In contrast to Block is the deceptively simple peasant faith professed by his bright but rough around the edges squire, Jons (Gunnar Bjornstrand), who still offers a daily prayer." Even a casual viewer of this film will ask, "What faith? What prayer?" Jons is a thoroughgoing and cynical unbeliever who refuses any consolation and contemptuously refuses to bow to death's hooded visage in his final appearance. Only Jof, the juggler, can be said to display a simple "peasant faith.
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