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The Movies That Changed Us: Reflections on the Screen Hardcover – October 22, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Atria; First Edition edition (October 22, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743410432
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743410434
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,672,903 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Few things in Hollywood get the movie-going public more riled up than lists. The American Film Institute's ranking of the 100 greatest flicks, for instance, touched off a firestorm of protest when it was released. Now film historian and former American Movie Channel host Clooney joins the fray, with his roundup of 20 movies that changed American culture. They're not necessarily the best ones, he says, but they all sparked something in the country's social or political consciousness. On the list are some gimmes (Dr. Strangelove; The Graduate), some correct but unsavory picks (Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will) and some surprising exclusions (Saving Private Ryan gets in, but Apocalypse Now doesn't-come again?). With each selection, Clooney offers a brief plot summary, and then demonstrates how the movie altered America-or at the very least, Hollywood. Taxi Driver, for instance, inspired John Hinckley, Jr.'s assassination attempt, while Star Wars "changed the way we make movies." Clooney's arguments are convincing enough, but many of the entries share a lame coda: that the movie "changed things." It's particularly heartening to see him resuscitate old gems, though; films from the '30s (e.g., Boys Town and Morocco) take up a full quarter of the list. "The story of film is far from over," Clooney notes, as if the noted movie buff can't wait to pen a sequel. Readers might quibble with his list, but then, that's half the fun. Agent, Joanna Pulcini.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In this extremely readable work, Clooney, former host of the cable channel American Movie Classics, examines one German and 19 U.S. films that "changed us," with content that was either on top or ahead of the curve. Thus, a great film like Citizen Kane does not make the cut, as it did not change society, but Boy's Town, The Birth of a Nation, and Taxi Driver do. Each of Clooney's short essays underscores why one particular film profoundly affected the viewing audience, for better or worse, whereas thousands of other merely "entertained." Some readers may question whether a film was really so influential, but Clooney is thought-provoking, and his occasional interviews with the original film personnel are alone worth the price. An interesting accompaniment to more scholarly studies of audience reaction, including Passionate Views, edited by Carl Plantigna and Greg M. Smith, and Janet Staiger's Perverse Spectators, this is highly recommended for all cultural studies collections.
Anthony J. Adam, Prairie View A&M Univ., TX
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Don F. Dunwell on February 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
To be truthful, Nick Clooney doesn't really change the way we look at movies. Rather, he provides some profound insights into movies and how they affect us. By doing so, you'll never see a movie as you formerly did after reading the book. For he spotlights how certain movies, special movies that stand alone, change the way that we see the world, conduct our lives, create our moral benchmarks, even peer into our own souls.
If you're seeking movie reviews, this book will take you beyond the ordinary parameters that we've come to expect and thrust you into a realm where you will ponder the immense power of this medium.
For me, personally, one of the most telling chapters dealt with Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver." The movie has always been high on my list of well-made, powerful expositions on the seamier side of our political and social underbelly. But, after reading Clooney's insights into this "movie that changed us", I can clearly see the reverbrations that it has wrought in our world.
Clooney writes with verve and wisdom, two qualities not always joined together. For the film aficianado and those intrigued by social history, this book is a must. It is a book that will provoke discussion and argument, but for which we are all richer for having read it.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A. Bowdoin Van Riper on September 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Few movie fans will dispute Nick Clooney's underlying point: That some movies change the way we, the audience, looks at the world. A wonderful book could be written around that idea, each chapter tracing the impact of a different movie. _Movies That Changed Us_ is, unfortunately, not that book.

Clooney's grasp of historical context--or, to be charitable, his presentation of it--is too narrow and too shallow to do justice to the points he's trying to make. If you're going to make the case that a movie "changed us" you have to be able to draw the Before and After pictures in convincing detail. You also have to be able to show that the movie itself was a catalyst for change . . . not just an indicator of larger forces that actually brought the change about. Clooney (especially when writing about changes outside of the movie business) frequently fails to do this,

The chapter on _The Graduate_ suggests that Clooney recognizes this problem. He argues that the movie (with its jaded view of romance, sex, marriage, and social norms) "killed the romantic comedy." It's an interesting argument, but what if the same shift in attitude that made _The Graduate_ incomprehensible to the middle-aged parents of 1967 made the romantic comedies of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s incomprehensible to their kids? Clooney never even considers the possibility.

The same problem sinks the chapter on _The Big Parade_, one of a cluster of films from the twenties and early thirties that painted war as bleak, unheroic, and tragic. Clooney credits such films with making the West slow to move against Hitler . . . but couldn't the too-fresh memories of 10 million young lives lost in a pointless war have been behind *both* the films and the hesitancy to go to war again?
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Chris Ward on January 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Nick Clooney's book is entertaining, informative and insightful. After reading this book you will never look at classic films the same way. Highly recommended.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "quantumkid" on February 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover
For me to say that Nick Clooney is a skilled, authorative writer, is to say nothing in as much as that is his main occupation, and he certainly doesn't need my approval to keep doing what he seems to have a gift for.It seems meaningless to comment on his choice of subject matter by acknowledging the years he spent hosting a TV production relating to just that subject. However to state that on picking up the book, opening it randomly, and not being able to put it down for two chapters might give you an indication of his ability to captivate the reader. The easy flow of the narrative was as though he was sitting there telling you the story in person. The last time I was so absorbed by a book, It was written by his sister, Rosemary (Girl Singer). Perhaps it's in the genes.
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By Mary Abner on June 23, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It was written by a very knowledgeable movie master, and was a thought - provoking book. It includes movies that span generations, so it's appropriate for all ages. Great read!
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By merrill dean taylor on April 19, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book and written very well. I didn't know Nick Clooney was so bright. He is an excellent writer. This book is great reading.
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