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Good Morning, Mr. Zip Zip Zip: Movies, Memory and World War II Hardcover – February 3, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Schickel, a 20-year film critic for Time, analyzes his obsession with movies vis-a-vis his own life. He discovered the seductive allure of cinema at age five and was hooked. Schickel's is a touching memoir of a smalltown boy whose life was shaped by WWII and the myths shrouded in the greatest generation, a notion he takes to task. His universe is Wauwatosa, Wis., where he leads a safe, middle-class existence, recalled in extraordinary detail. Clever at reading and hopeless at math doubtless the source of my profession is to be found here Schickel remains restless. He longs to escape this placid, Sinclair Lewis- style burb and finds release in films. Be it the adventures of Errol Flynn or Gary Cooper, he's transported. And therein lies the appeal of criticism: its assertiveness, its ability to subvert the sometimes pompous, often expensive, object under review. This is the era of radio shows, blood drives and rationing. It's also a time when Hollywood and the War Office conspired, in Schickel's view, to present a distorted view of war. The Japanese were always brutal, while movie Germans often possessed civility, hiding hidden truths and creating political distortions that linger to this day. Most shameful, he says, films ignored the suffering of European Jews. Throughout his narrative, he pierces holes in American complacency: democracy prevailed onscreen; ethnic disdain and anti-Semitism raged offscreen. Schickel intercuts personal reminiscences with film synopses, subjecting both to his critical gaze.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The movie bug bit film reviewer and historian Schickel just in time for World War II, which began when he was six, and his childhood memoir counterpoints recollections of family and milieu with those of the movies he saw. After sketching his situation in the Milwaukee suburb in which he grew up, he proceeds to his first movies, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and The Wizard of Oz, which put him off fantasy for life. Thereafter, his theme is his growing consciousness of the war and how it was mediated by the movies. He didn't then question such anomalies as the representation of the Japanese as much more evil than the Germans, who, except for strident Nazis, were rendered sympathetically. Now, of course, he sees the racism underlying that discrepancy and understands its acceptance by white-preferring 1940s America. Nor did he see the discrepancy between his family's status-consciousness and movie scenarios in which wartime Americans easily embraced one another as equals; such brotherhood may have been what the communist hacks who wrote so many wartime movies wanted, but it never happened--a point many poems in the outstanding Poets of World War II [BKL Mr 15 03] confirm. Although more socially oriented than Mary McCarthy's Memories of a Catholic Girlhood (1957), Schickel's memoir is little inferior to it as a reconsideration of personal myths. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee (February 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566634911
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566634915
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.3 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,020,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Berner VINE VOICE on May 31, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Richard Schickel's memoir of life and movies during WWII, is a book that not "only a film scholar could write", but one that only THIS film scholar could write. To those of us of, as they say, a certain age, it offers a fascinating re-evaluation of the films of WWII, as well as a compelling portratit of growing up in America at the time. Indeed, if the book has a flaw for those of us old enough to remember the films in their original release, it is the lack of precise dates of release of many of them. HOWEVER, one does have to ask (and my rating of 4, rather than 5, stars offers my answer), who, besides me, Schickel, and our co-age group, is the book for? While his insights into all the films he cites are meticulous, the vast majority of them are not only obscure to most film goers, but DESERVEDLY so.
The writing is, as one would expect, always compelling; the portrait of America, film, and the intertwining of the two to an impressionable public, is flawless. Indeed, the subject not only should have been covered, but needed to be. But, will the average film buff, let alone the average reader, be as enthralled as I was? Alas, I tend to doubt it, but I'm grateful it was done, anyway.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael Samerdyke on June 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
There are many book about American films made during World War II. What sets this book apart from most of those is that Schickel focuses on the movies he saw at the time of the war as a child, giving us a double perspective: the child watching the film then and the adult watching the films again now.
Thus there are some gaps. The young Schickel, unsurprisingly, avoided the Preston Sturges comedies, and so these do not play a big part in the book. However, what we do get is a believable and convincing look at how the public perceived these films (Hangmen Also Die, The Human Comedy, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo) at the time.
A nice thing is that Schickel, although he makes it clear he finds some of these movies mendacious, never takes a snide, wise guy attitude but remembers his childish delight in these films, while as an adult he can pick out the flaws.
The book is not just a look at films of 1941-5. It is also a memoir, so there is material about growing up and becoming a film critic. I found this interesting, as Schickel is one of my favorite critics. (His book on D. W. Griffith is superb.) However, people only interested in wartime films, and not also in Schickel, might be advised to get it from the library.
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2 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Ted Cardiff on April 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I heard an interview with R. Schickel on Public Radio and am quite interested in buying and reading his book. I grew up in the same Wisconsin suburb - Wauwatosa, WI and most likely the same time period that he did and am interested in his depiction of that time and place. I'm most interested in how he covers the question of Hollywood not dealing with the WW2 persecution of European Jews. Subject matter which was not publically known in the US until about March 1945, two months before the end of that war.
I rated this 3 stars because I couldn't submit a review without it.
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