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Reel Women: Pioneers of the Cinema 1896 to the Present Paperback – March, 1993
"Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)" by David Sedaris
In one of the most anticipated books of 2017, David Sedaris tells a story that is, literally, a lifetime in the making. Pre-order today
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From Library Journal
Writer/producer/director Acker's volume capably fills a surprisingly neglected gap in the film field by profiling more than 120 women directors, writers, producers, editors, stuntpersons, etc., who worked or are working in the U.S. film industry. Coverage is from the 19th century to the present day. Each entry includes a biographical sketch, emphasizing interview quotes, and filmographies (some selective). Acker wisely avoids any critical analyses of her subjects' films, and should be commended for her accuracy. Her resource is more compact, comprehensive, and useful (while more pricey) than works such as Louise Heck-Rabi's Women Filmmakers (Scarecrow, 1984).
- David Bartholomew, NYPL
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Here is a comprehensively researched encyclopedia of women in every area of the film industry: writers, editors, directors, producers, animators and stunt women. A brief biography of each woman is followed by a complete listing of her work. Would it surprise you to know that one of the earliest film companies was owned by Helen Keller, and she produced and starred in Deliverance, a 1918 production about her life. This book is not only packed with the contributions women have made to cinema, it is also an excellent resource for discovering the many films created and shaped by women (you can rent many of them at your local video store). You will no doubt be surprised at the number of well-known film classics you recognize. -- From The WomanSource Catalog & Review: Tools for Connecting the Community for Women; review by Ilene Rosoff
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Top Customer Reviews
According to the introduction, Acker wrote the book because the men who ran PBS in 1985 shot down her pitch for a documentary on this topic. The documentary might have been interesting, but in the long run the book is of more value as a quick-access source of information. (Also, PBS rarely sells videos of its 1980s era documentaries nowadays, so having published the book was definitely beneficial.)
There are occasional errors scattered throughout the book, for which I took away one star from my overall rating of the book. Some of them are due to limited and/or erroneous information commonly available at the time that the book was written. That, of course, isn't Acker's fault. But there are also some errors that are of the author's origin. For example, under the Ruth Gordon entry, Acker conflates the American Academy of Dramatic Arts -- which expelled Gordon in 1915 -- with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (est. 1927) which awarded Gordon a Best Supporting Actress Oscar 53 years later.
I took away a second star because of some of the other prominent women that Acker could've included, but didn't. In the editors section alone, she could've included other women who had won Oscars before publication, such as Anne V. Coates (Lawrence of Arabia), Marcia Lucas (Star Wars), Claire Simpson (Platoon), and Gabriella Cristiani (The Last Emperor). She also included Lillian Gish for her one directing credit (and her several uncredited turns as producer) while barely mentioning Alla Nazimova, a prominent producer/actress whose one directing effort (Salome) was a much bigger success than the film that Lillian Gish directed. But the most jaw-dropping omission is probably that of Julia Philips, the first woman to win the Best Picture Oscar (The Sting).
But the errors and omissions in the book are still not enough to completely degrade the book's overall value as the first reference guide to the often overlooked contributions of women to the film industry. I'd actually give the book 3.33 out of 5 stars if that were allowed.