- Hardcover: 160 pages
- Publisher: Angel City Press; 1st edition (May 29, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 188331853X
- ISBN-13: 978-1883318536
- Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 0.8 x 14.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,934,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Now Playing: Hand-Painted Poster Art from the 1910s through the 1950s Hardcover – May 29, 2007
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About the Author
Anthony Slide is the author of seventy-five books, including "The Griffith Actress" and "The Films of D. W. Griffith", co-authored with Edward Wagenknecht. In 1990, he received an honorary doctorate of letters from Bowling Green University, at which time he was hailed by Griffith s most famous actress, Lillian Gish, as "our preeminent historian of the silent film."
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This is unlike any other history of movie posters, because it is a hidden history. We are familiar with the memorable images of famous posters from many decades, posters generated by studios and distributors. But "Now Playing", written under the auspices of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, tells the story of a long-lost cottage industry of regional artists, creating original art for movie theatres across the heartland in the silent and early sound eras. It is a hidden history because the art was considered disposable marketing material and was for the most part tossed aside. It took an amazing series of serendipitous events, unlikely coincidences and lucky collisions to bring this vast body of work and eclectic collection of artists to the attention of someone who could recognize their value. My favorite part of this coffee-table format book is the treasure hunt that reads like a feverish screenplay, piling one astonishing discovery on top of another. And, of course, I'm proud that my wife, Lori, and her cousin Jane fought to midwife the story to life.
Author Anthony Slide brings it all together with his wonderful power of language and storytelling and his encyclopedic knowledge of movie history, preservation and memorabilia. His critical eye uncovers both the restrictions of an art form that demanded an artist produce two dozen or more original works per week and the extraordinary achievements within those limitations. Keep in mind that these posters were created by artists who had not yet seen the films but were working from advance publicity materials. So their imaginations were unfettered by studio demands and audience reactions. The results were often surreal, experimental and daring in a fashion that committee-driven studio posters could rarely achieve. The posters reflected the taste and sensibility of main street America; for me, reading the book was like opening a door into that era.
For all my fascination with the information and the story in the book, the ultimate test is the images themselves. We have some full-sized lithographs of the posters in our home, and they never fail to stop new visitors in their tracks. The Valentino in the dining room and the Lon Chaney, Sr. at the end of the hallway are riveting and hypnotic. So I was holding my breath to see if the book did them justice. Happily, it exceeded my expectations. The vivid colors and iconic images pop from the page, bringing to life many films, both famous and obscure. Nearly half of all films produced before 1950 have been lost forever; some of these posters are the only representations of their subjects that survive. The book's gorgeous and faithful color reproduction and the very high resolution illuminate both the artists' craft and their obvious love of movies and movie stars.
I'll stop gushing. I can barely scratch the surface of "Now Playing" anyway. Given my bias, I know you'll take this review with a grain of salt; I certainly would. But I also hope you'll come back to check whether more objective opinions bear out my enthusiasm.
As a professional writer myself, I admire what was accomplished by Lori and her collaborators. This was a personal and emotional journey for them all. Lori's cousin, Jane Powell (not the actress) passed away before the book was published; it is dedicated to her and I'm sure she would have been as proud as I am of the final result. She and Lori were committed to seeing that these artists and their families finally received credit for their contributions to a definitive American art form. I would love to see people seek these works for their artistic value as well as the historic; maybe "Now Playing" will bring even more of them out of attics and closets and into the consciousness of collectors and movie lovers.
Jane Powell, Lori Berthelsen and Anthony Slide should be so proud of this book.They worked on this project several years with a tremendous amount of dedication and determination. Their work resulted in one of the finest movie books I have seen. This is history, showing the original lobby art of a few of the many movie artists years ago. The authors managed somehow to locate the posters that remain,for that I am grateful. This book
will bring back many memories and create a great amount of conversation.
Edward A Armstrong, Jr