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Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood Hardcover – February 14, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 76 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. While one might think that the films discussed in this book have been thoroughly plumbed (The Graduate; Bonnie and Clyde; In the Heat of the Night; Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?), Entertainment Weekly writer Harris offers his take in this thorough and engaging narrative. Instead of simply retelling old war stories about the production of these five Best Picture nominees at the 1968 Oscars, Harris tells a much wider story. Hollywood was on the brink of obsolescence throughout the 1960s as it faced artistic competition from European art films and financial implosion due to an outdated production system and rising budgets. Harris doesn't shy away from complexity in favor of easy answers, and the personalities that he profiles—among them Sidney Poitier, Mike Nichols, Warren Beatty and Richard Zanuck—are certainly worthy of the three dimensional approach. Harris also peppers his narrative with moments that capture the rising cultural tide that broke in the late '60s: chipping away at the moralistic Production Code, and Hollywood's inconsistent engagement with the Civil Rights movement are continuous sources of interest throughout this fascinating book. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Mark Harris, a former editor for Entertainment Weekly, combines his remarkable knowledge of film history with interviews and research that capture the Zeitgeist of the late 1960s, particularly the cloistered, changing world of Hollywood. The films that challenged the industry’s expectations were, Harris writes, “game changers, movies that had originated far from Hollywood and had grown into critics’ darlings and major popular phenomena.” In the manner of Otto Friedrich’s City of Nets, Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, and Ethan Mordden’s Medium Cool, the author does an admirable job of bringing that “revolution” to life. Drawing on his deep knowledge and a sly sense of humor (and irony) about Hollywood’s quirkier side (witness an account of Jane Fonda’s Fourth of July party in 1965), he crafts what Charles Matthews deems “likely to be one of the classics of popular film history.”
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (February 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594201528
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594201523
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.6 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #797,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ed Uyeshima HALL OF FAME on March 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
1939 may have been Hollywood's high watermark for classic filmmaking, but 1967 was ostensibly the year Hollywood grew up, the turning point when the old guard faced off with the new mavericks in dominating not only the year's box office but also the year-end critical accolades. Entertainment Weekly columnist Mark Harris cleverly and incisively looks at the five diverse films that made up the Best Picture Oscar race that year and dissects each one from development to the Oscar ceremony the following spring - The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Doctor Dolittle, and the eventual winner, In the Heat of the Night. His meticulous research feels thorough, lending a surprisingly cohesive picture of an industry in flux between the aging, out-of-touch moguls unable to forecast film-going tastes and the revolutionary novices, influenced by the European New Wave, abandoning a studio system in collapse.

Instead of tracing these films individually, the author looks more holistically at the middle of the decade when a diverse array of people concurrently faced a multitude of challenges in getting their pictures made.
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Format: Hardcover
Mr. Harris has taken the five Best Picture nominees for the 1967 Oscars and pin-point that year as the fall of the studios. Two films dealt with racism ("Guess Who's Is Coming To Dinner," and "In the Heat of the Night") in very differnet ways, one with sexuality and changing morals ("The Graduate"), another with amoral violence ("Bonnie and Cycle") while the last picture attempted to be another Hollywood musical ("Dr. Dolittle.") This was the year that independent film-making and European influences reached a critical mass against the static studio machine.

Ironically Sidney Poitier was shut out for a Best Actor Oscar with three brilliant performances, two of them in the Best Picture category. These little tidbits are found in the book that follows the five movies from pre-production to the Oscar. The narrative is quite readable and the behind the scenes stories are interesting and amusing. Mr. Harris should pick out other landmark years and repeat the process. This book is a must for any movie fan.
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By Hayworth on October 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very impressive book. Great concept, great research, all very well woven together to create an engrossing picture of an industry and a period which are sometimes unfathomable to the layman. As an industry veteran, and as someone who was marginally involved in some of the movies discussed here, I congratulate Mr. Harris on a job well done.

HOWEVER: I am appalled a the sloppiness of the CD reading. Did anyone listen to it? Mr. Harris? Was there a producer? The numerous mis-pronunciations of names and places really made listening a very difficult experience:

Sidney Lummit?
Larry Tourman?
The Mad Woman of Shiloh?
Amy Archerd?
Cubby Brock-ohli?

And on and on. Numerous egregious errors. If only the reader had done his homework. And if only someone had listened to the finished product. Shameful - particularly because the reader has a very appealing voice and delivery.
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Format: Hardcover
I am a bit of Hollywood history buff and it is wonderful having a number of books on the subject out right now (check out Misfits Country). In this well written and excellently researched book the author takes the reader back to 1967 and analyzes the five nominees for best picture and there reflection and effects on society in at that momentous time of change. The Movies are: "The Graduate (40th Anniversary Collector's Edition)," "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (40th Anniversary Edition)," "Bonnie and Clyde," "In the Heat of the Night (40th Anniversary Collector's Edition)" and "Doctor Dolittle." Aside from being a great walk down memory lane it is also full of insightful social commentary. The sixties were a special time of social change and the movies and the movies of that decade reflected and effected this change on so many levels. I would love to see the author expand on this in another book that might take on the best movies of the decade. And do try Misfits Country an excellent read that is a behind the scenes look at the making of the classic movie The Misfits!
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Format: Hardcover
Mark Harris has written what is sure to be considered a masterwork of film analysis...tracking the five films nominated for the 1967 Best Picture Oscar from infancy to (in at least a couple cases) infamy. With access to many of the actual players (Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman, Mike Nichols, Dick Zanuck, etc), Harris creates a credible, highly entertaining book chock full of information not necessarily known before to the general public (Truffaut AND Godard were on the cusp of directing Bonnie & Clyde...in New Jersey!)

Surely anyone interested in what was going on culturally & politically in the late 60s would find the book informative. It's a well thought-out blend of both.
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