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Who the Devil Made It: Conversations with Legendary Film Directors Paperback – Black & White, February 3, 1998

4.5 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

I found this a truly one-of-a-kind look at the movie business from those who really make it magic -- the movie directors. Through both narrative and interviews, this comprehensive compendium reveals both the personal and professional lives of these directors as well as their personal thoughts and feelings about their movies, the movie business and some of the actors they have worked with over the years. Contains some photos and a full listing of each director's film. This is a must have for anyone serious about the history and business of movie making.

From the Inside Flap

In this fascinating chronicle of Hollywood and the grand art of making movies, Peter Bogdanovich--director, screenwriter, actor, and critic--interviews sixteen legendary directors of the first hundred years of film:

Robert Aldrich  George Cukor  Allan Dwan  Howard Hawks  Alfred Hitchcock  Chuck Jones  Fritz Lang  Joseph H. Lewis  Sidney Lumet  Leo McCartey  Otto Preminger  Don Siegel  Josef von Sternberg  Frank Tashlin  Edgar G. Ulmer  Raoul Walsh

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 864 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (February 3, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345404572
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345404572
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #428,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I wonder if we (the movie fans) appreciate that we have two of the greatest film historians ever still with us today? Peter Bogdanovich and Martin Scorsese not only make movies, they also have gone to great lengths to give us insight into those who came before them in filmmaking - Scorsese with his personal journey through American films and Bogdanovich with his insightful interviews of Welles, Ford and the long list of pioneers he included in this massive volume. Here we are given more than 800 pages of interviews, some of which are fully developed and others which are but snipets of interesting careers. We should be thankful he included the snipets with the others, because in many cases these are the only true looks we have into these men who led today's young filmmakers to find their way. From Allan Dwan to Chuck Jones, Bogdanovich explores with his interviews what was behind the eyes of the men who did many things in filmmaking for the first time and with distinction. He includes some who were there when filmmaking was in its infancy, and some who started in television and moved to movies. The length and some of the lesser-known names among the subjects at first gave me pause in tackling this book, but I surprisingly found each of the interviews interesting and now count this among the best (among many) reference books I own about movies. I've gone back to it several times when viewing some of the films these men have made, and that, for me, makes this a valuable posession.
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Format: Paperback
The title was suggested by Howard Hawks who once observed, "...I liked almost anybody that made you realize who in the devil was making the picture...Because the director's the storyteller and should have his own method of telling it." Hawks is one of the 16 "legendary film directors" represented in this volume. It is important to keep in mind that these are conversations rather than interviews such as those conducted by Robert J. Emery in The Directors: Take One and its sequel, The Directors Take Two, as well as interviews conducted by Richard Schickel in The Men Who Made the Movies. It is also worth noting that Bogdanovich is himself a distinguished director of films such as The Last Picture Show, What's Up, Doc?, They All Laughed (a personal favorite of mine), and Texasville. As a result of his own background, Bogdanovich's questions and comments reflect somewhat different interests and perspectives than do those of Emery and Schickel.
I rate all of these books Five Stars but probably enjoyed reading Bogdanovich's book the most because the conversations ramble along somewhat messily, as most of my own conversations tend to do, and also because Bogdanovich is more actively involved in the interaction than Emery and Schickel are. As a reader, I feel as if I were really an eavesdropper as 16 directors casually share their opinions, information about specific films and actors, gossip, "war stories," and overall evaluations of their careers' various successes and failures. At no time does Bogdanovich seem intrusive or manipulative. Moreover, perhaps to an extent he did not realize when writing this book, he also reveals a great deal about himself...much of it endearing and some of it admirable. His passion for film making and his appreciation of the great directors are almost palpable.
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Format: Paperback
You can spend years going to film school, or you can read this book! Bogdanovich does a great job with this collection of interviews of great film directors. Not only does the book give you a good inside view of the craft of cinema, but it also acts as a history book of the film industry.
This book would be good for the serious indie director who has bet his/her credit cards on their dream or even the special person in your life who stays up until 4am watching the Turner Classic Movie channel.
There is something here for everyone as there is a wide range of directors who work in a wide range of styles. There isn't a genre that isn't touched in this book - from Hitchcock on Horror to Chuck Jones on cartoons. What's great is that Bogdanovich captures insight into directors that are no longer with us (like Fritz Lang who directed Metropolis). Since the directors tell their own stories, you don't get the Hollywood hype filter.
If you had to buy one book on film this year, this would be it!
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By A Customer on December 26, 1998
Format: Paperback
Bogdanovich's book has joined Bach's "Final Cut" and Dunne's "The Studio" among the dozen or so absolutely essential books on film, whether for the professional or the casual fan. It's a treasure trove of opinion, technique, and just plain gossip, and even the most ardent film lover will close the book at the end with a double-handful of movies they haven't seen and now can't go another day without. Bogdanovich is kind of a strange authority for this, but the respect he gives his interviewees, coupled with extensive knowledge and a clear desire to give equal space both to the heavyweights (Hitchcock, Hawks) and the now-forgotten (Dwan, Louis) makes this a hands-down MUST READ.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you like the great films that poured out of the studio system this book is for you. Peter Bogdanovich candidly interviews talented directors. One of the highlights of the book is in the Frank Tashlin section.

Mr. Bogdanovich lays out a verbatim, "inside" exchange between Frank Tashlin and Jerry Lewis during the crafting and shooting of a sequence, that's worth the kindle price of this book. These are interviews for those interested in how the picture makers and the talent did it.

I won't try to mention all of the talented directors in this book but it contains info on some that there is very little scholarship on. Leo Mc Carey, Frank Tashlin and Don Siegel, for example, give great insight into the process of "getting the work" and the way the studios and production heads operated in the so called golden age of Hollywood.

The common denominator is that most of these directors held many different jobs at the studios before ascending to the director's chair. They knew how the studio worked, what resources were available without beating your budget to death and most importantly, how to physically make and post a picture. It was a different time indeed.
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