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Quick Reviews: Sherlock Holmes on Screen

Sherlock Holmes on Screen by Alan Barnes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes has been featured in more films and television programs than any other fictional character. With each adaptation and performance, different aspects of the beloved character are explored, including Holmes’s drug usage and personal relationships. With the these portrayals, it is difficult to keep track of them all. Super-fan Alan Barnes has collated information about his favorite sleuth into a detailed encyclopedia. It features every single Sherlock performance to appear in film and on television. In its third edition, Sherlock Holmes on Screen is an excellent guide to the world’s favorite detective. Fans of Sherlock Holmes will not be disappointed.

Sherlock Holmes on Screen(Updated)
Author: Alan Barnes
ISBN: 9780857687760
Titan Books
January 2012
320 pages

I received a copy from Titan Books

Quick Reviews: The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia

The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia by Glen Mitchell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Excellent resource for fans of The Marx Brothers. Contains detailed information about the production of all their films, television appearances, stage, and solo endeavors. Presented in A-Z format with photos throughout. Contains information on co-stars like Margaret Dumont and Louis Calhern. If it has to do with the Marx Brothers, it’s in this book. A must have.

The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia (revised)
Author: Glen Mitchell
ISBN: 9780857687784
Titan Books
January 2012
309 Pages

I received a copy from Titan Books

Quick Reviews: The Complete Three Stooges

The Complete Three Stooges by Jon Solomon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Die-hard Three Stooges fans will consider Jon Solomon’s The Complete Three Stooges an invaluable resource. The book contains detailed synopses, production notes, and anecdotes on every single short and feature-length film ever made by The Three Stooges. The book is in chronological order and also contains a detailed index, which comes in handy. Personally I am not a big fan of the Three Stooges, but Solomon’s book is the go-to for everything Three Stooges.

The Complete Three Stooges (Revised)
Author: Jon Solomon
ISBN: 9780857682987
Titan Books
September 2011
600 pages

I received a copy from Titan Books

Drew Struzan: Oeuvre

Courtesy of Titan Books
Courtesy of Titan Books

I have a confession: before snagging a copy of the book Oeuvre I thought “who in the world is Drew Struzan?” Once I opened the book, I immediately knew who he was. Chances are you know who he is too, even if you have never heard his name. Struzan is the mastermind behind some of the most popular and iconic movie posters ever created. He is a frequent collaborator with George Lucas, who penned a lovely foreword to Oeuvre. In addition to his working relationship with Lucas, Struzan is a favorite of directors Steven Spielberg, Guillermo Del Toro, and Frank Darabont.

It’s safe to say that Drew Struzan’s most popular work comes from three of the most beloved film series: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Back to the Future. An entire generation grew up with these images ingrained into the pop culture. In addition to those films, Struzan created artwork for the The Muppets series, Hook, The Goonies, E.T., Star Trek, and The Lord of the Rings, to name a few. His artistic talents are not limited to poster art. Struzan commissioned paintings for the United States Postal Service and their Legends of Hollywood series. His submissions include renditions of John Wayne, Lucille Ball, Edward G. Robinson, James Stewart, and Henry Fonda.

Drew Struzan: Oeuvre by Drew Struzan and his wife Dylan, features a lovely collection of some of his most popular pieces, in addition to an entire section dedicated to artwork from his personal collection. This book serves as a companion piece to the wildly popular The Art of Drew Struzan, which was released a couple years ago. There are no captions next to the artwork, instead there is a detailed index in the back of the book. For ease, I would rather those captions be next to the artwork, but I understand that it would potentially compromise the aesthetic of each image. I will admit that I am generally not a fan of this type of artwork, but when it is in the proper context, it is hard to find fault. I have fond memories of going to the movie theatre and seeing his posters hanging on the wall. They were larger than life! Oeuvre is a nice addition to any film lover’s library and may appeal to the Gen-X crowd.

Drew Struzan: Oeuvre
ISBN: 9780857685575
Titan Books
October 2011
314 pages

Full Disclosure: I received a copy of Drew Struzan: Oeuvre directly from the publisher Titan Books. I thank the publisher for the opportunity to review this book.

The Hammer Vault: Treasures from the Archive of Hammer Films

Courtesy of Titan Books
Courtesy of Titan Books

It all began in 1954. The film was The Quatermass Xperiment, an adaptation of a BBC television production that aired in 1953. This was the first television-to-film production by Hammer Studios, and they rated it ‘X’–which proved to be successful in the marketing of this and future films. Sex, violence, and sheer terror were the common elements of the typical Hammer Horror film.The Hammer Vault: Treasure from the Archive of Hammer Films is written by the official Hammer Films historian Marcus Hearn. The book provides detailed production information on the studio’s films, from 1954 to 2010. It also briefly mentions the new Hammer release The Woman in Black (2012), starring Daniel Radcliffe.

In 1956, Hammer Studios produced the first of its Gothic horror films: The Curse of Frankenstein, starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. This was Cushing’s first film for the studio, and before long his name became synonymous with Hammer Horror, along with Lee’s. Many of the films made for the studio featured the same actors and actresses, including Ralph Bates, Andrew Keir, Michael Ripper, Veronica Carlson, and of course Cushing and Lee. However, famous Hollywood stars contributed to the Hammer canon as well.

One of my favorite anecdotes from The Hammer Vault involves one of Hollywood’s finest.  In 1967 Bette Davis made the film The Anniversary for Hammer. The production methods at the studio were much different than Hollywood’s. A living legend like Bette Davis, who was accustomed to doing things her way, could not and would not work under their typically strict filming style.

Seven Arts Productions in Hollywood had a partnership with Hammer, and were involved in Davis being cast for the film. When producer Jimmy Sangster found himself mediating a battle between Davis and the director of The Anniversary, he contacted Seven Arts for assistance. Their response was: ”The Anniversary wasn’t an Alvin Rakoff film, neither was it an Anthony Hinds or Jimmy Sangster film. And, if push came to shove, it wasn’t even a Hammer film. It was a Bette Davis film” (100).

The Hammer Vault: Treasure from the Archive of Hammer Films is an excellent guide to the horror films that made the studio so famous. Complete with colorful artwork, posters, notes from stars like Peter Cushing, and Hearn’s insights, the book is a nice film companion piece. If you are a fan, The Hammer Vault is a must have for your collection.

The Hammer Vault: Treasures from the Archive of Hammer Films
ISBN: 9780857681171
Titan Books
December 2011
176 pages

Full Disclosure: I received a copy of The Hammer Vault: Treasures from the Archive of Hammer Films directly from the publisher Titan Books. I thank the publisher for the opportunity to review this book.