Years ago, writer-photographer Mark A. Vieira wrote and compiled a handsome book called Hurrell’s Hollywood Portraits. This enormous and elegant volume supersedes it, not only in the quantity and quality of photographs it presents, but in Vieira’s candid text, which expands on his earlier work and delves into the second part of Hurrell’s life: his years in decline and his final comeback. As a student and protégé of the great man, Vieira is in a unique position to do this, and to reveal the master’s secrets. All the great faces are here: Crawford, Shearer, Harlow, Gable, right up through Paul McCartney, Harrison Ford, and Diana Ross. Bemoaning the ready availability of sub-standard copies of Hurrell’s work, online and elsewhere, he declares, “I wrote this book to ensure that these photographs can be seen as he intended. I have secured prints made by Hurrell himself. I have included prints that I made in a photographic darkroom from his original negatives, sometimes under his tutelage, and sometimes under the supervision of his colleagues. I have scanned the prints myself. And I have entrusted those prints to Running Press, a publisher committed to fine lithography.” I think it’s fair to refer to this exquisite tome as definitive.
DREAM IT! DO IT! MY
HALF-CENTURY CREATING DISNEY’S MAGIC KINGDOMS by Marty Sklar; introductions
by Ray Bradbury and Richard M. Sherman (Disney Editions)
Marty Sklar is a living link to Walt Disney and his philosophy of entertainment, as expressed in Disneyland. He started working for Walt a month before the Anaheim park opened and quickly became a valuable and trusted aide, writing speeches and communicating the boss’ ideas to sponsors, shareholders, and the general public. In the years that followed, Sklar rose through the ranks to lead a team of Imagineers in their efforts to build new and ever-more-ambitious attractions and theme parks around the globe. Perhaps his greatest skill is as a communicator, and that’s what comes across in this lively and revealing autobiography. For anyone who loves Disneyland and what it stands for, this book is a must.
How is one to deal with two newly-published biographies of Gloria Swanson that each bear the mark of genuine scholarship, full access to Swanson’s extensive archives at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas, and the participation of the subject’s family? I haven’t had time to read either one as yet, but I don’t think a reader can go terribly wrong. Both writers traveled the globe to screen her films, interview friends and colleagues, and uncover the details of her fabled life and career. Welsch makes a point of quoting manuscript drafts for the star’s autobiography, which were more candid than the version that was subsequently published. Shearer was canny enough to ask Jeanine Basinger to provide a thoughtful and pointed introduction. Both books would seem to warrant serious attention.
Drawing on panel discussions and one-on-one interviews with leading screenwriters from the Austin Film Festival (as well as its television series and podcast On Story), this book distills war stories, anecdotes and advice from leading practitioners. Among the participants are John Lee Hancock, Robin Swicord, Lawrence Kasdan, John August, Randall Wallace, Steven Zaillian, Nicholas Kazan, Bill Wittliff, Caroline Thompson, Anne Rapp, Whit Stillman, Sacha Gervasi, Peter Hedges, Dan Petrie, Jr., and the late Frank Pierson. There is much to learn and enjoy, even if you’re not an aspiring writer yourself.