At the Hollywood Canteen movie bookstore, my guide to the fair city of Toronto, Milos Tolmin, strikes a dramatic pose. He also tweets as @HogtownSerb — I suggest you follow him.
Hollywood Canteen is like paradise to me, but the prices are reasonable, and as a Scotsman that distresses me. So regretfully I only purchased —
Each Man in His Time, the autobiography of Raoul Walsh, which I didn’t even know existed. Never seen a copy. You just know Uncle Raoul is going to have some good stories!
Raoul as Pancho Villa. (Ladies! Restrain yourselves!)
Three More Screenplays by Preston Sturges. These volumes are always expensive, so to find one at a reasonable price was a welcome surprise. This one contains scripts for THE POWER AND THE GLORY, EASY LIVING and REMEMBER THE NIGHT, films wholly written by P.S. but which he did not direct, so I expect the variations from page to screen will be illuminating. Who wants to read a script that feels like a transcript of the finished film?
Despite what you might see as my restraint in Hollywood Canteen, I did actually go berserk in Toronto’s used bookstores (w hich are in decline thanks to the internet, but still impressed me mightily). BMV books on Bloor Street, just five minutes from my hotel, has a great assortment of film books in the basement, at knockdown prices, so you could hardly expect me to leave without an assortment of literature that threatened to break small bones in my feet every time I hoisted my luggage. I came away with —
Directors in ACTION Selections from ACTION the Official Magazine of the Directors Guild of America Edited by Bob Thomas. This 1973 collection features interviews with Richard Lester (the clincher), Kubrick, Frankenheimer, Corman, Siegel, Altman, Ford, Hitchcock, Peckinpah, Friedkin, Ashby, Gordon Parks, George Stevens, Mel Brooks and Michael Ritchie.
Screenwriter: Words Become Pictures by Lee Server. I’ve read too many screenwriting books, in search of the non-existent secret of success, but I love interviews with screenwriters (often more articulate and more amusingly embittered than directors or stars) and this one profiles such luminaries and subluminaries as Charles Bennett, A.I. Bezzerides, Allan Scott and Curt Siodmak. I bet I can get some good quotes from it for here.
An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood by Neal Gabler. As guest of th Toronto Jewish FIlm Festival in company with NATAN, I felt I should. It looks great!
Secret Lives of the Great Filmmakers by Robert Schnakenberg, illustrated by Mario Zucca. Gossip — fairly scrupulously presented, so much of it is likely true. I figured Fiona would enjoy this one along with me.
Film Scripts Four. This one collects A HARD DAY’S NIGHT, DARLING and THE BEST MAN. $4.90 = just over £2, and believe it or not I hesitated, mindful of my baggage allowance.
The Platinum Years, photographs by Bob Willoughby (text by Richard Schickel, whose The Disney Version I was much tempted by). This great doorstop coffee table book of on-set stills from late sixties Hollywood productions is the biggest item I came away with, but was still only $9.91, an odd price but a more-than-fair one. Seduced by the favourable exchange rate and Richard Lester’s persona recommendation (he thought the PETULIA pics the best ever taken on one of his sets), I lugged it home.
Dylan Thomas The Complete Screenplays. The script of THE DOCTOR AND THE DEVILS taught me more craft than Robert McKee ever could, so I’m anxious to try the rest. I have seen and enjoyed the rare THREE WEIRD SISTERS and NO ROOM AT THE INN so a script comparison should be interesting. TD&TD has been unsuccessfully filmed, twice, once by a late friend of Milos.
Milos insisted I should get something Canadian, and bought me, over my spluttered protests, a study of Bruce MacDonald’s HARDCORE LOGO, a film I’ve been meaning to see. I interviewed Mr. MacDonald at the time of PONTYPOOL and found him as appealing as his movie.
At a few other stores, I supplemented my (barely) mobile book repository with —
KOPS AND CUSTARDS The Legend of Keystone Films (A BOOK) by Kalton C. Lahue and Terry Brewer. Am particularly interested because of current researches into Mabel Normand, and I couldn’t resist a book with that parenthesis, or with this sentence inside: “Joe Jackson was an inveterate joker, who worked almost exclusively with electricity.”
An Illustrated History of the Horror Film, by Carlos Clarens. Based on his appearance in Agnes Varda’s LION’S LOVE, I would nominate Mr. Clarens as cinema’s cutest critic, but what drew me most was this image from THE WIZARD, a lost film from 1927. George Kotsonaros and Gustaf Von Seyffertitz.
Trap for Cinderella by Sebastien Japrisot, a French novelist of mainly crime fiction, all of whose novels have been filmed.
I also rather wish I’d bought a book collecting articles from Image, just for a rather moody photo of Joe Martin. Mr Martin was that unusual person, an orangutan movie star, though he was often credited as “Joe Martin the Chimp.” I’d never heard of him, but it turns out I’d seen him, opposite Max Linder in SEVEN YEARS BAD LUCK. In THE ADVENTURES OF TARZAN, the IMDb has him credited as “Man in Ape Suit,” which confuses me as he#s definitely the real deal. Does the film feature a man in an ape suit played by a real ape? If so, it is boldly reversing Hollywood tradition.
Read Joe’s bio here! (Caution: it is a deeply horrible, tragic story. It has so many elements of Poe I really hope it isn’t true.)