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Stanley Kubrick: A Biography Paperback – May 7, 1999

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Editorial Reviews Review

In 1962, an MGM trailer teased its audience by asking "How Did They Ever Make a Movie Out of Lolita?" Readers of this book, which recounts the life of Lolita's director, might ask, "How Did They Ever Write a Biography of Stanley Kubrick?" Kubrick is the most reclusive of celebrities, a man who seems mysterious even to those who have known and worked with him. Vincent Lobrutto's engrossing and beautifully researched biography succeeds in tracing this meticulous and brilliant visionary from his childhood and early career as a photographer for Look magazine to his creation of masterpieces such as Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and Full Metal Jacket. Lobrutto concludes his book by discussing projects that have not yet been realized: Eyes Wide Shut, a film about sexual obsession, the Holocaust drama Aryan Papers, and the most eagerly awaited of Kubrick's prospective movies, the science fiction film A. I. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Despite making only 12 feature films in 40 years, Stanley Kubrick (b. 1928) is arguably the greatest living American filmmaker, the principal creative force behind such movies as Paths of Glory, Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange and The Shining. He is famous for his reclusiveness and eccentricity. Although this biography falls short of its stated purpose to be the first complete account of Kubrick's private life, it succeeds in presenting a convincing portrait of a man who is utterly devoted to every aspect of filmmaking, down to poster design. LoBrutto (Elia Kazan: Film Director), a film professor at the School of Visual Arts in N.Y.C., provides an exhaustively researched and detailed account of the making of Kubrick's films, including long interviews with many of the actors, writers and film craftsmen who have worked with the director over the years. Kubrick comes across as a soft-spoken tyrant in full command of every detail who somehow manages to win and keep the respect of those who work for him. For the true film buff, there's an astonishing amount of technical information, but there's also a good deal of illuminating backstage human interest?Kubrick cutting Kirk Douglas's final close-up in Spartacus as a joke, beating George C. Scott at chess between takes of Dr. Strangelove, asking Malcolm McDowell if he knew any songs he might sing during the rape scene in A Clockwork Orange. The tone of the book is a bit gee-whiz at times, but it's hard to fault LoBrutto for that: from the evidence here, Kubrick's boundless energy and passion for film are as breathtaking as the best of his movies. Photos and filmography.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 606 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1st Da Capo Press ed edition (May 7, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306809060
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306809064
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By matthewslaughter on March 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
Published in 1999, prior to the release of "Eyes Wide Shut" and the death of his subject, Stanley Kubrick, Vincent LoBrutto's biography arrived, however unfairly, at the wrong time. Since Kubrick did not grant LoBrutto the kind of access a strong biography needs, he had to do the nasty gruntwork that makes biographical writing, particularly of the deceased, such a demanding, but ultimately rewarding adventure. We can only speculate, but now that Kubrick has been dead for nearly eight years, that perhaps Christiane Kubrick and their daughters would grant access into the secretive, obsessive world that made Kubrick such a mythic filmmaking figure.

Instead, we have a text that owes to LoBrutto's extensive knowledge of cinema more than it does to the insight of Stanley Kubrick. The book starts off poorly, reading like a catalog of events and dates, lacking any real musical sensibility for his use of the English language. LoBrutto hits his stride when describing the making of Kubrick's breakthrough film "The Killing." From there, LoBrutto's research into the depths of Kubrick's approach to filmmaking is rewarding. We learn about Kubrick's use of specific movie cameras, lenses, his approach to scoring films, "needle-dropping," his approach to lighting and his encyclopedic absorption of the subject matter pertaining to the films he made.

However, as a "biography," a study in human character, LoBrutto's book is thin. We learn little about Kubrick's attitudes towards his Jewish heritage. His first two marriages are passed over without any real depth. His obsessive nature and the creation of his own closed-off world, akin a filmmaker's Xanadu, are provided little to no psychological depth or inquiry.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
Despite my great interest in Stanley Kubrick's work and personality, I couldn't finish this biography by Vincent LoBrutto. Disappointment sets in very quickly as one realizes that LoBrutto's writing style is very tedious, amateurish and repetitive. The irony is that the author is clearly an admirer of Kubrick and has done extremely meticulous research -- what a shame that the editing was not nearly as careful, quite unlike a Kubrick film.
I switched to John Baxter's recently published biography and, though that book certainly has its own weaknesses, it is much more concise and has a livelier style. After finishing it, I picked up the LoBrutto book again in an attempt to at least skim it for additional detail, especially since it offers more technical information. I have again given up. The poor style is too much to endure and the extra detail is not interesting. One wonders whether the Baxter biography is merely a more professional rewrite of the LoBrutto book.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By The JuRK on June 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
This was the first full biography of Stanley Kubrick I read, buying it in hardback as soon as it was published. There had been very little biographical info on the director until his death in 1999 and I think I read most of the books about his films up to that point.
I was disappointed with this bio. It got to the point where the last sentence in every third paragraph read, "And there was only one man for that job, and that man was Stanley Kubrick."
I found John Baxter's bio, also called STANLEY KUBRICK, much more entertaining and enlightening.
If you've seen Kubrick's daughter's short film, "The Making of THE SHINING," on THE SHINING DVD, you get a glimpse of the rewriting frenzies that went on--a genuine shock to me since Kubrick's films appeared so tight and controlled ("We make it up as we go," Jack Nicholson jokes as a Kubrick assistant literally cringes), a look at the director's temper when a scene doesn't go right, and the scenes featuring his disregard for Shelley Duvall border on cruelty.
All of this is more than you'll find in LoBrutto's biography.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Brian A. Glennon on September 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Apologetic to Stanley Kubrick, STANLEY KUBRICK: A BIOGRAPHY (c. 1997) by Vincent LoBrutto is a first order inquiry which sets the Plutarchian biographical tone of Stanley Kubrick as a benevolent director pursuing his childhood infatuation with the photographic image. Vincent LoBrutto concentrates on the interesting behind-the-scenes business dealings Mr. Kubrick contends with in Hollywood. He also describes Stanley Kubrick's initial inspiration to photography in high school; the exertion and drive Kubrick demonstrated to complete a film; his relationships with some of Hollywood's biggest stars; Kubrick's impartial business decision to make movies in England; his experiences with contracts, lawyers, and lawsuits; the polite opinions of cohorts and co-workers regarding Mr. Kubrick himself; a few of Mr. Kubrick's own views regarding his life pursuing cinema; and his hobbies, marriages, and habits.
The biography falls short in one regard that it paints too good a portrait of a director who allegedly never lost his temper; it glosses over any motivation for his two divorces; it emphasized some personal information (such as he liked hot dogs) and de-emphasized others (was Kubrick right-handed or left-handed? or was Kubrick a rated chess player?). The book further does not explore the differences between brilliance and genius: would Stanley Kubrick have been able to pass the test to join Mensa?
Using secondary and tertiary sources typical of biographies, Vincent LoBrutto fails to capture the historic Stanley Kubrick with this work steeped in the mechanical aspects of his subject's life.
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