Penguin Group (USA) LLC
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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Classic Movies Kindle Edition
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1)Organization. Good. The sound movies in this book are organized by sixteen genres such as Westerns, Comedies, Romances, and so forth. And for the most part it works. Occasionally, the author goes off the path. For example, John Wayne's The Quiet Man is listed under Comedy, rather than Romances. Also under Comedies are Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and Lilies of the Field. Similarly movies like A Christmas Carol and It's A Wonderful Life are found listed under Sci-Fi/Fantasy. It would have been better had the author made another category like Inspirational to put those movies in. Then again, a good movie is hard to classify. That's why the author wisely put in several indexes.
2)Movie Choices. Great, especially the silent movies which are often overlooked. By organizing the book of genre, classic animation movies like Dumbo and Pinocchio get their due, as well as certain Hammer horror movies. The author mentions how a friend of his despises It's A Mad...Mad World, but he included it anyway. Good call. However, the author refers to the 1955 Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston as a bad movie. Thumbs down on that. Ten Commandments made the American Film Institute's top 100 inspirational films and Moses made the AFI's top 50 heroes. I also wished that he included Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. The truly bad part is that the films only go to 1969. So that means that Patton (1970) and other classics didn't make it. But that's the fault of the editors. Hopefully, a second volume will remedy that.
3) Information. Excellent. The author is at home with the subject. He lists the company, director, producer, writer, running time, and main actors with their roles, followed by a brief synopsis. He includes composers, like Max Steiner and Elmer Bernstein who have blessed many of my favorite films with memorable tunes. And he did get one detail wrong when he says that Bela Lugosi of Dracula fame died with drug addiction. Bela bravely conquered his addiction, albeit, at the end of his life (at least that what I was told in the commentary to Universal's Dracula). Still, some of the information he reveals is amazing, for example a big error in the movie Yankee Doodle Dandy. (No, I'm not going to tell you.) I only wish there were a good photograph for each movie, but that's just me.
4) Appendix and Index. Great. You are treated to AFI's top 100 films, AFI's top 100 quotes (what we got here is failure to communicate), top ten box office stars 1950-1969, and useful websites. There are indexes of Actors, Directors, and Movies. The indexes make the book very user friendly to find your favorite actor's movies.
The jury finds that while this books isn't for a student wanted to go in-depth over a specific film, it is extremely valuable for the average Joe who wants to know about classic films and where to start. Verdict: Not Guilty.
P.S. I hope his editors give him the green light for a sequel.