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Warning Shadows: Home Alone with Classic Cinema Paperback – April 19, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
I came away from "Warning Shadows" impressed by the depth and breadth of Giddins' knowledge. Not only does he write sensibly about Orson Welles, John Huston and Alfred Hitchcock (and say interesting things about these filmmakers) but he can also pinpoint the best film made by the nearly forgotten John Brahm, offer perceptive comments about lesser-known films of the Weimar era (which is where he draws the title of his book) and even view the "Indianerfilm" of the former East Germany with intelligent curiosity.
The only drawback with "Warning Shadows" is that most of the essays are about four pages long. (They were originally written as DVD reviews.) Giddins should use his expertise on film to attack a subject at a longer length.
Still, if you think film history is too important to be left to the professors, this is a book to read.
This is where things get dicey. Public exhibition, Giddins argues in his opening essay, "Home Alone with Classic Cinema," is an integral part of the movie watching experience: "Only in a crowd is the viewer borne away on waves of joy and sorrow and recognition." Freed by our DVD players from lack of parking, overpriced concessions, and babblers in the audience, we have virtually unlimited access to good films, and fewer people to watch them with. If Giddins is right, that isn't cinema; it's television, or parlor entertainment.
Still, when it comes to an informed appreciation of those films, it's a pleasure to read him. Recent blockbusters don't interest him; as he says of one little-known, European avant-garde director, "[his] films are the sort about which mainstream reviewers remark, 'not for every taste.' Nor is THE DARK KNIGHT for every taste." What interests Giddins are the pleasures of Bette Davis's operatic acting; the Freudian fantasies of German Expressionist cinema; the energy and intelligence of Sidney Lumet movies; Hollywood biopics worthy of their subjects (YOUNG MR. LINCOLN, LUST FOR LIFE); and, among other bits of movie history, the wonderfully weird story of how Walt Disney and Nelson Rockefeller joined forces to fight the Nazis with cartoons and samba.
WARNING SHADOWS (those on Plato's cave wall, of course) is both an elegy for the near-extinction of the moviegoing experience and a celebration of a large number of movies that made it all worthwhile.
In "Warning Shadows," a collection of Giddins' DVD reviews for the now defunct New York Sun, he succinctly yet sagaciously delves into the works of time tested auteurs and much-appreciated actors and stars as well as overlooked geniuses and forgotten, would-be masterpieces. He adroitly notes, for instance, that Alfred Hitchcock has had the last laugh on his many biographers and critics by remaining the most durably popular studio-era film director in the English-speaking world, and he illuminates in two essays about the often misinterpreted and misunderstood John Ford more than some have managed in entire volumes.
Giddins writes in his piece on Noir-cum-Western-cum-Sixties Epic auteur Anthony Mann, "The 1950s were arguably the greatest years of the Western, the period in which generic formulas were at once sustained and destabilized through psychology, revisionism, high style and the kind of grandeur that follows when the most durable clichés are reframed against classical paradigms.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Witty, Comical, Insightful and Entertaining!!
I love this book with all the comments for movies we all know and love. Read more
I've read lots of books on classic films, but this one was different. Instead of telling you which films are worthy to be watched, it highlights the DVD packages that are worthy... Read morePublished on April 20, 2012 by Kindle Customer
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a movie studio in possession of a fortune must be in want of Great Books. Read morePublished on February 29, 2012 by Sasha