Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 18, 2012
“A penetrating, lively cultural history of movie stardom. . . . [The author] has a witty, readable style, but don't let that pop façade fool you. There is substance here, as he dissects how each period in American history finds or create stars to serve its needs.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Wide-ranging. . . . Superb. . . . Capacious and thought-provoking. . . . In Gods Like Us, Boston Globe film critic Burr presents a fresh take on the medium’s history, eschewing the standard roll call of moguls and filmmakers, preferring to understand the triumph of Hollywood as a carefully orchestrated harnessing of the ferocious power of celebrity.”
—The Boston Globe
“David Thomson, watch out! In the pithy new book Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame, Boston Globe film critic Ty Burr delivers thoughtfully epigrammatic descriptions of movie stars, actors, and celebrities. He wittily traces the progression of these characters from the early days of film to their current incarnations on the internet, from the young Frank Sinatra, who ‘looked like a freshly hatched ostrich but his singing voice promised a slowly crested big-band orgasm,’ to Harrison Ford, who is able to ‘make grumpiness seem sexy.’ . . . Gods Like Us soars when it meditates on individual stars and their personae. . . . The whole book is worth guzzling for the golden nuggets on movie stars and celebrity sprinkled throughout.”
“Any Hollywood history can describe a star’s X factor. But not many film historians can see the whole equation as Ty Burr does in Gods Like Us, his lively and provocative chronicle of the genesis of movie stars and the metamorphosis of movie stardom. He offers original thinking about the audience factor.”
—The New York Times
“A brilliant and even profound history of stardom for an era that doesn't begin to know how very badly it both wants and needs it.”
—The Buffalo News
“Gods Like Us is a standout, as enjoyable as it is informative, when it comes to the astrology of public entertainment.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“A lively anecdotal history of stardom, with all its blessings and curses for star and stargazer alike. From Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin to Archie Leach (a.k.a. Cary Grant) and Marion Morrison (a.k.a. John Wayne), from Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts to today's instant celebs famous for being famous, Burr takes us on an insightful and entertaining journey through the modern fame game at its flashiest, most indulgent, most revealing and, occasionally, most tragic.”
—The Huffington Post
“Burr is an ever-witty presence on the page (see: Clara Bow, with her ‘blat of raw sexual energy,’ or Arnold Schwarzenegger, ‘this slab of Black Forest ham’). A terrific writer, then, yes, but also an astute reader of history, as in his near-breathless analysis of three midcentury seismic shifts—the emergence of Marlon Brando, television, and rock & roll. Burr gives each subject a good chew.”
“Burr’s Gods Like Us is a constantly interpretive history of and idiosyncratic meditation on stardom. . . . It is an important work, precisely because it is such a difficult task that is all too rarely undertaken.”
—The Daily Beast
“Burr has both a fan’s and scholar’s grasp of the history of film, and he travels along a celluloid highway that extends from the early days of Thomas Edison to Zac Efron. Of greatest interest to the author is our evolving notion of celebrity—of what celebrities mean. . . . A focused history of films.”
“Gods Like Us is an entertaining, wide-ranging account of the way movies created a new kind of fame, and changed the world in the process. Ty Burr's encyclopedic history of movie stardom is gossipy (in the best of sense of the word) and insightful, and his cultural analysis is as provocative as it persuasive.”
—Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children and The Leftovers
“The sharp, illuminating Gods Like Us is as enjoyable and addictive as the greatest bucket of movie popcorn you've ever had. For anyone who loves cinema, this is a ‘must own’ book.”
—Dennis Lehane, author of Live by Night and Mystic River
“[A] solid analysis of celebrity. . . . In this fascinating cultural study, film critic Burr explores the rise of stars in the early film industry. . . . Burr chronicles the star system—silents, talkies, movie factories, postwar studios—while citing factors such as television (‘evoked not glamour, but ordinariness’), music (Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Madonna), MTV, HBO, and YouTube (‘teenagers have at their disposal the fundamental moviemaking facilities of a Hollywood studio in the 1930s’).”
About the Author
Ty Burr has been a film critic at The Boston Globe since 2002. Prior to that he wrote about movies for Entertainment Weekly, and he began his career as an in-house movie analyst for HBO. His previous books include The Best Old Movies for Families: A Guide to Watching Together. He lives, writes, and teaches in the greater Boston area.
Top customer reviews
I finally pulled the book from it place on my shelf and dove in. I am sorry that I waited so long. This book is IMPORTANT. It is not a fluff piece about Hollywood, but a reasoned examination of the arc of stardom and fame from the Silent Film era to the era of Selfies and Twitter. It is also a very well thought-out philosophical examination of the nature of identity.
As always, Mr. Burr writes with artistry and clarity. His prose is beautiful and provocative.
Here is a sample to help to convince you of the truth of what I aver: "Here, in the end, is the revelation that all of stardom works to deny, the dirtiest and most unfathomable secret . . .It's that identity itself is the grandest illusion of all. What if the sum of who we are is not a magical inner seed that only fame or self-actualization can cause to bloom? What if we're not all the things we wish for or blog or project, but simply the actions we take for ourselves and for others - our marks upon the waking world? What if we are what we do, not the other way around? Stardom is the best dream we've yet invented, a luxurious fantasy of the fixed self. The question we need to ask ourselves is how long we want to keep sleeping, and what we'll dare to do when we finally wake up." (Page 352)
a. Burr gives us a mini-history of the birth of the movies and stars who emerged int he silent era from Florence Lawrence in the very beginning of the industry to such silent icons as Charlie Chaplin; Gloria Swanson; Rudolph Valentino; Norma Talmadge and many more. The movies were begun by corporate executives who came from Central European backgrounds. They were mainly Jewish (with the exception of Zanuck) but created the studio systme. Major studios emerged in the golden age. MGM; Paramount:
RKO; Twentieth Century Fox and Warners were the leaders.
b. Burr examines several of the great films and stars of the early sound era such as Clark Gable, John Wayne, William Powell and such femme fatales as Greta Garbo, Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford and Betty Davis.
c. The most fascinating part of the book for this reviewer was Burr's study of post World War II film and music. He traces the emergence of Marlon Brando a more realistic actor and graduate of the Actors Studio. We see the rise of Elvis Presley and the impact of rock music on our culture. Television is explored with such early stars as Milton Berlie, Lucille Ball and the TV situation comedy.
d. Burr describes the careers of such modern stars as Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks and Harrison Ford.
Our culture today is one in which we ourselves can become stars through the use of facebook, You Tube and other modern innovations.
This is a fascinating book for movielovers which will both teach and entertain the reader1 Well done!
When developing this concept through history the book drags a bit, it could have been shorter. But the chapter on internet and the way it has allowed everyone to experience something similar to being a celebrity is so interesting it paid for the whole book. Someone said in another review that the question of why we care about celebrities is not explained, but I thought it was well explained in that chapter. "What draws us to other people's fame is the hope of discovering a self that never dies." (I don't think I'm spoiling anything by quoting that since you have to read what comes before and after to fully understand it.)
A great read for people curious about the sociological aspect of fame and the way the concept is changing, even disappearing to leave place for something else.
Unfortunately, the book falls apart around 1950, with an overlong meditation on Marlon Brando and then an extended side trip into Elvis Presley and the Beatles, about whom Ty Burr has very little original to say. There are some interesting thoughts on the rebellious stars of the late 1960s and early 1970s when - oh no! - the whole enterprise runs aground with the appearance of Harrison Ford. Burr has a major critic's crush on Han Solo, and Ford's debut in "American Graffiti" is followed by a multi-page love letter to the "male star who would come to dominate the 1980s and 1990s."
Where was Ty Burr's editor when all this was going on? A good guiding hand would have helped him sand down some of his excesses and produce a more well-rounded book that showed off his strengths instead of his prejudices.
Most recent customer reviews
I love reading about the movie stars of long ago.