From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. While one might think that the films discussed in this book have been thoroughly plumbed (The Graduate
; Bonnie and Clyde
; In the Heat of the Night
; Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
), Entertainment Weekly
writer Harris offers his take in this thorough and engaging narrative. Instead of simply retelling old war stories about the production of these five Best Picture nominees at the 1968 Oscars, Harris tells a much wider story. Hollywood was on the brink of obsolescence throughout the 1960s as it faced artistic competition from European art films and financial implosion due to an outdated production system and rising budgets. Harris doesn't shy away from complexity in favor of easy answers, and the personalities that he profiles—among them Sidney Poitier, Mike Nichols, Warren Beatty and Richard Zanuck—are certainly worthy of the three dimensional approach. Harris also peppers his narrative with moments that capture the rising cultural tide that broke in the late '60s: chipping away at the moralistic Production Code, and Hollywood's inconsistent engagement with the Civil Rights movement are continuous sources of interest throughout this fascinating book. (Feb.)
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Mark Harris, a former editor for Entertainment Weekly
, combines his remarkable knowledge of film history with interviews and research that capture the Zeitgeist of the late 1960s, particularly the cloistered, changing world of Hollywood. The films that challenged the industry’s expectations were, Harris writes, “game changers, movies that had originated far from Hollywood and had grown into critics’ darlings and major popular phenomena.” In the manner of Otto Friedrich’s City of Nets
, Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls
, and Ethan Mordden’s Medium Cool
, the author does an admirable job of bringing that “revolution” to life. Drawing on his deep knowledge and a sly sense of humor (and irony) about Hollywood’s quirkier side (witness an account of Jane Fonda’s Fourth of July party in 1965), he crafts what Charles Matthews deems “likely to be one of the classics of popular film history.”Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.