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Phallic Frenzy: Ken Russell and His Films (Cappella Books) Hardcover – August 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: Cappella Books
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (August 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556526695
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556526695
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #995,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Joseph Lanza knows more about my life than I do!"  —Ken Russell



"A lively and explicit biography."  —Nerve.com



"A solid, long-overdue reconsideration of director Ken Russell's horrific surrealism."  —PLAY



"It makes for a thrilling read—it vibrates, shimmies, pounds down the pavement of every page."  —Alternative Film Guide



"The core features are discussed in exhaustive detail, blending close analysis with lively anecdote . . . [Lanza] has delved extensively into the more colorful aspects of his subject's life."  —Book Review Digest


"Everything you ever wanted to know—and more—about the wild child of Cinema Britannia."  —Financial Times

About the Author

Joseph Lanza is the author of numerous books, including Elevator Music: A Surreal History of Muzak, Easy-Listening and Other Moodsong; Fragile Geometry: The Films, Philosophy, and Misadventures of Nicolas Roeg; Russ Columbo and the Crooner Mystique; and Vanilla Pop: Sweet Sounds from Frankie Avalon to ABBA.

More About the Author

Joseph Lanza, who writes mostly about film and popular music, is perhaps best known for his pioneering and critically acclaimed book ELEVATOR MUSIC: A SURREAL HISTORY OF MUZAK, EASY-LISTENING, AND OTHER MOODSONG. "Snobby musicologists ignore this fascinating topic," composer Wendy Carlos said, "but I learned a lot while being well entertained by Lanza's delightful book." He later savored the mystical delights of vanilla milkshakes and the dulcet pop songs they connote with VANILLA POP: SWEET SOUNDS FROM FRANKIE AVALON TO ABBA. Blender, an indie-rock magazine, noted that Lanza writes about such recording artists as The Lettermen, Claudine Longet, and The Carpenters with "contagious enthusiasm." His latest book is the biographical thriller PHALLIC FRENZY: KEN RUSSELL AND HIS FILMS. Ken Russell himself lauded it in the London Times, observing that "Lanza has managed to disguise his masterful research as a near-neo novel with gothic and surreal overtones. I applaud the man, having done the same with my own biographies on composers."

Recently, Mr. Lanza told the following to Contemporary Authors: "On the surface, my subjects might seem quite eclectic, but all of my books are about a secular search for a creative spirit, whether it be through sweet music, rollercoasters, or obsessive cinema."

Check out JOSEPH LANZA'S NERVE CENTER: http://josephlanza.blogspot.com/

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Pollack on October 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"Phallic Frenzy is the book that was screaming to be written. Lanza does with words what Russell does with imagery. Not an easy task. All with the same tongue-in-cheek, wink-of-an-eye humor."

-- Leonard Pollack, Ken Russell's former stills photographer and costume designer
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Enzi on August 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been thinking about Ken Russell since I was a teenager and suddenly discovered what rapturous, personal film making could be. Although I was lucky enough to see most of Mr. Russell's features in cinemas, some on first release and many repeatedly, I always had trouble understanding how such a loon could ever have been allowed to make films and, having made some of the greatest, fall into aobscurity. Joseph Lanza does the impossible here. He writes about the films, succinctly, and excitably, getting to the germ of the idea and putting the films-and the career- in context.
If I can fault this book at all, I would decry the lack of biographical information about the actors and artists who worked with Ken on his films. Also the book's postage stamp sized pictures look Xerox printed. Yet there is a wealth of information here, presented in a way that is a lot of fun to read. For anyone interested in film history, this book could only be a joy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TrueBrit TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A MUST READ FOR KEN RUSSELL FANS!!! This is the ONE. I would recommend this over many of the earlier biographies and if you want information on Ken's recent days this is full of em!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lawrence Pechak on March 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book gives insight into the background of Russell's films in both serious and humorous ways. Highly recommended for all Ken Russell fans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By adorian on August 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
If you have seen the films of Ken Russell, you will find this book to be a valuable analysis of all of them. The writing is not dull and dry. At times, the author's voice is wickedly snarky, acidic and punny, gossipy and mean. One doesn't know if some of the more bizarre phrases are brilliant puns or just unfortunate typos. To call someone "a shrinking violent" (p.69) might be the former; I'm pretty sure watching someone "through a classroom widow" (p. 287) is the latter. He has Lord Byron marrying Annabella in 1915 (p. 263).

We read detailed chapters about every film, the problems before and during filming, the critical reaction afterward. We also read about projects that never came to fruition: the "Evita" with either Streisand or Minnelli. A Sarah Bernhardt biopic. Ah, what might have been!

In addition to the film work, there is a section about opera productions that Russell directed. Someone with a knowledge of opera could have pointed out some errors: tenor Barry McCauley is called Robert (p. 240). Boito's "Mefistofele" is called "Il Mefistofele" (p. 246).

Some of the titles of the more obscure films were totally new to me, and I was able to find them and watch them. I have enjoyed the dvd of "The Boy Friend." "Salome's Last Dance," a still from which graces the cover, is an absolute must-see for anyone who enjoys Oscar Wilde and who wonders why films have to cost over $100,000,000 to make. Russell was always able to make big splashy films on very low budgets, for which I admire him. I wish we could get a definitive dvd of "The Devils." I frequently check amazon.com for new titles of Russell's work.

Just as the films are fun to watch for their decadent excesses, it is also fun to read this book's loving and knowledgeable assessment of them. I can fully recommend it.
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