- Reading level: 18+ years
- Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: Penguin USA; Reprint edition (27 January 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143115030
- ISBN-13: 978-0143115038
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.9 x 21.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,67,001 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood Paperback – 27 Jan 2009
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"Pictures at a Revolution is probably one of the best books I've ever read in my life.”
"A rarity in the world of movie literature: A first-rate, broad-gauged (and deliciously readable) cultural history."
-Richard Schickel, Los Angeles Times
"A landmark new film book . . . sifts through the evidence with reportorial acumen and great care, conjuring up the social and cultural history of a lost world and drawing on sharp new interviews with many of its major players. . . . Can take its place alongside top-shelf film industry books."
-Janet Maslin, The New York Times
About the Author
From 1990 to 2006, Mark Harris worked as a writer and editor covering movies, television and books for Entertainment Weekly, where now writes the "Final Cut' back-page column. He has written about pop culture for several other magazines as well. He lives in New York City with his husband, Tony Kushner.See all Product description
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
As promised, "Pictures at a Revolution" does tell the stories of the five films nominated for the 1967 Best Picture award, from conception of the films through the awards night, with a quick "Where are they now?" (or more accurately, a "Where did they go immediately after?") section at the end. The organization is loosely chronological, swapping among the story lines of the movies in question. Since the films were only connected by their place in time (there was no common director or writer among the five, they weren't all from the same studio; that sort of thing), the interlacing of the stories does lead to a mental stop-start for the reader. But Harris's style keeps it all entertaining enough that it is well worth remembering just where "Dr. Dolittle" was when we last had a sighting of it.
The book has received high praise from other reviewers with deep knowledge of the industry and the art, and the good news is that those recommendations hold up for the casual reader. I give the book four stars rather than five because I, at least, did not come away with any new way of looking at that time in moviemaking or model for understanding it. Perhaps the word "Revolution" overpromises. Harris does a wonderful job of capturing the sense of the new and the sense of change that was afoot in 1968, as the awards were being given. The fact that following that landmark year some good "big" movies were made and many very bad "little" movies were released is undeniable. And in looking at those years, that may simply be a case of art imitating life: it felt like a revolution at the time.
If you are old enough to remember the sputtering end of "old Hollywood," you might remember some of the dreadful movies it produced in those final years. Restricted by censorship, the system went crazy producing big budget musicals, James Bond spy films and Bible epics. Movie executives were out of touch with the mood of the country--which was mired in an unpopular war, the civil rights movement and a host of other causes. Despite huge dissatifaction within American society, Hollywood movies reflected little change. Then, in 1967 Dr. Doolittle competed with In the Heat of the Night, The Graduate, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and Bonnie and Clyde for Best Picture. What a year.
Mark Harris had access to many of the folks who worked on the five movies and he's a gifted storyteller and journalist. This is a great book for someone who wants to find out about how movies went from apolitical musicals, epics, thrillers and dramas to irreverent works by Woody Allen, Stephen Spielberg, Nora Ephron etc.
Can't recommend this book enough.