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Silent Stars

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About This Book
From one of America's most renowned film scholars: a revelatory, perceptive, and highly readable look at the greatest silent film stars -- not those few who are fully appreciated and understood, like Chaplin, Keaton, Gish, and Garbo, but those who have been misperceived, unfairly dismissed, or forgotten.

Here is Valentino, "the Sheik," who was hardly the effeminate lounge lizard he's been branded as; Mary Pickford, who couldn't have been further from the adorable little creature with golden ringlets that was her film persona; Marion Davies, unfairly pilloried in Citizen Kane; the original "Phantom" and "Hunchback," Lon Chaney; the beautiful Talmadge sisters, Norma and Constance. Here are the great divas, Pola Negri and Gloria Swanson; the great flappers, Colleen Moore and Clara Bow; the great cowboys, William S. Hart and Tom Mix; and the great lover, John Gilbert. Here, too, is the quintessential slapstick comedienne, Mabel Normand, with her Keystone Kops; the quintessential all-American hero, Douglas Fairbanks; and, of course, the quintessential all-American dog, Rin-Tin-Tin.

This is the first book to anatomize the major silent players, reconstruct their careers, and give us a sense of what those films, those stars, and that Hollywood were all about. An absolutely essential text for anyone seriously interested in movies, and, with more than three hundred photographs, as much a treat to look at as it is to read.
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From one of America's most renowned film scholars: a revelatory, perceptive, and highly readable look at the greatest silent film stars -- not those few who are fully appreciated and understood, like Chaplin, Keaton, Gish, and Garbo, but those who have been misperceived, unfairly dismissed, or forgotten.

Here is Valentino, "the Sheik," who was hardly the effeminate lounge lizard he's been branded as; Mary Pickford, who couldn't have been further from the adorable little creature with golden ringlets that was her film persona; Marion Davies, unfairly pilloried in Citizen Kane; the original "Phantom" and "Hunchback," Lon Chaney; the beautiful Talmadge sisters, Norma and Constance. Here are the great divas, Pola Negri and Gloria Swanson; the great flappers, Colleen Moore and Clara Bow; the great cowboys, William S. Hart and Tom Mix; and the great lover, John Gilbert. Here, too, is the quintessential slapstick comedienne, Mabel Normand, with her Keystone Kops; the quintessential all-American hero, Douglas Fairbanks; and, of course, the quintessential all-American dog, Rin-Tin-Tin.

This is the first book to anatomize the major silent players, reconstruct their careers, and give us a sense of what those films, those stars, and that Hollywood were all about. An absolutely essential text for anyone seriously interested in movies, and, with more than three hundred photographs, as much a treat to look at as it is to read.
Product Details
eBook (512 pages)
Published: October 17, 2012
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Knopf
ISBN: 9780307829184
Other books byJeanine Basinger
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    The Star Machine
    From one of our most distinguished film scholars, comes a rich, penetrating, amusing book about the golden age of movies and how the studios worked to manufacture stars. With revelatory insights and delightful asides, Jeanine Basinger shows us how the studio “star machine” worked when it worked, how it failed when it didn't, and how irrelevant it could sometimes be. She gives us case studies focusing on big stars groomed into the system: the “awesomely beautiful” (and disillusioned) Tyrone Power; the seductive, disobedient Lana Turner; and a dazzling cast of others. She anatomizes their careers, showing how their fame happened, and what happened to them as a result. Deeply engrossing, full of energy, wit, and wisdom, The Star Machine is destined to become an classic of the film canon.

    I Do and I Don't

    I Do and I Don't
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    From one of our leading film historians and interpreters: a brilliantly researched, irresistibly witty, delightfully illustrated examination of “the marriage movie”; what it is (or isn’t) and what it has to tell us about the movies—and ourselves. As long as there have been feature movies there have been marriage movies, and yet Hollywood has always been cautious about how to label them—perhaps because, unlike any other genre of film, the marriage movie resonates directly with the experience of almost every adult coming to see it. Here is “happily ever after”—except when things aren't happy, and when “ever after” is abruptly terminated by divorce, tragedy . . . or even murder. With her large-hearted understanding of how movies—and audiences—work, Jeanine Basinger traces the many ways Hollywood has tussled with this tricky subject, explicating the relationships of countless marriages from Blondie and Dagwood to the heartrending couple in the Iranian A Separation, from Tracy and Hepburn to Laurel and Hardy (a marriage if ever there was one) to Coach and his wife in Friday Night Lights. A treasure trove of insight and sympathy, illustrated with scores of wonderfully telling movie stills, posters, and ads.

    A Woman's View

    A Woman's View
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    Now, Voyager, Stella Dallas, Leaver Her to Heaven, Imitation of Life, Mildred Pierce, Gilda…these are only a few of the hundreds of “women’s films” that poured out of Hollywood during the thirties, forties, and fifties. The films were widely disparate in subject, sentiment, and technique, they nonetheless shared one dual purpose: to provide the audience (of women, primarily) with temporary liberation into a screen dream—of romance, sexuality, luxury, suffering, or even wickedness—and then send it home reminded of, reassured by, and resigned to the fact that no matter what else she might do, a woman’s most important job was…to be a woman. Now, with boundless knowledge and infectious enthusiasm, Jeanine Basinger illuminates the various surprising and subversive ways in which women’s films delivered their message.   Basinger examines dozens of films, exploring the seemingly intractable contradictions at the convoluted heart of the woman’s genre—among them, the dilemma of the strong and glamorous woman who cedes her power when she feels it threatening her personal happiness, and the self-abnegating woman whose selflessness is not always as “noble” as it appears. Basinger looks at the stars who played these women and helps us understand the qualities—the right off-screen personae, the right on-screen attitudes, the right faces—that made them personify the woman’s film and equipped them to make believable drama or comedy out of the crackpot plots, the conflicting ideas, and the exaggerations of real behavior that characterize these movies.   In each of the films the author discusses—whether melodrama, screwball comedy, musical, film noir, western, or biopic—a woman occupies the center of her particular universe. Her story—in its endless variations of rags to riches, boy meets girl, battle of the sexes, mother love, doomed romance—inevitably sends a highly potent mixed message: Yes, you women belong in your “proper place” (that is, content with the Big Three of the women’s film world—men, marriage, and motherhood), but meanwhile, and paradoxically, see what fun, glamour, and power you can enjoy along the way. A Woman’s View deepens our understanding of the times and circumstances and attitudes out of which these movies were created.

    Anthony Mann

    Anthony Mann
    Director of such often-revived films as Winchester '73, The Glenn Miller Story, and El Cid, Anthony Mann enjoyed a lasting and important career as one of Hollywood's premier filmmakers. Mann's Westerns, noir pictures, and epics are admired and studied by fans and scholars alike, and he was an expert in the fundamental elements of cinema (movement and placement of the camera, composition in the frame, and careful editing). Jeanine Basinger's Anthony Mann, which places the director's visual style at the center of its analysis, was among the first formal studies of any filmmaker, and it set a standard in the field over twenty-five years ago. Long out of print and much in demand, this pioneering book is now available again, featuring complete coverage of those Mann films not discussed in the original work, as well as over fifty rare film stills. Wesleyan is proud to issue this expanded edition of an essential text, making it available to new generations of filmgoers and readers.

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