We at FlickSided cover the visual side of cinema but what about the printed page? What are five necessary books about film that are a ‘must own’?
1. Conversations with Woody Allen by Eric Lax.
As hard as it is to believe, there really hasn’t been a definitive book about one of film’s greatest directors. Eric Lax wrote a biography, but that is more than twenty years old. Conversations is the result of three decades of interviews. It is an illuminating look at a misunderstood filmmaker. You get to understand how hard of a worker Allen is, how the neurotic Allen in films is just a character and not anything like what is he in real life. Thoughtful, detail-oriented, hardworking and never satisfied, it is easy to see why Woody Allen has lasted so long in film. Formatted in the question and answer style, the book goes in chronological order. Very easy to read and extremely fascinating, you will uncover a Woody Allen you didn’t even know existed.
2. Groucho and Me by Groucho Marx
If anyone can’t be entertained by a book written by Groucho Marx, they probably aren’t human. In his own inimitable style, Groucho tells his life story about growing up in the Marx family. Groucho could stretch the truth with the best of them, so not all of his book can be taken as literal. Still, Groucho is Groucho and, for me, that alone makes it more than worth reading.
3. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Byskind
Peter Byskind’s book chronicles the period from 1969 up until the beginning of the 1980s. The book documents one of the golden ages of Hollywood, when filmmakers like Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and others came to prominence. It is the story of the last dying embers of old Hollywood and the Phoenix that rose from its ashes. It is the story of the decade of the director. The confines of censorship fell by the wayside and it became an exciting time to be a filmmaker. Your imagination was your only limit.
4. Hitchcock/Truffaut by Francois Truffaut
In 1966, Francois Truffaut sat down with his, as well as the entire French New Wave’s idol, Alfred Hitchcock, for a series of interviews that would result in the most revered interview book ever. Hitchcock was one of the most high-profile directors certainly of his time, if not ever; so, while Hitchcock’s opinion on just about everything is well documented, this book is still well worth the read and a place in your library.
5. Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light; Fritz Lang: The Nature of the Beast both by Patrick McGilligan.
Patrick McGilligan is probably the premier biographer of film directors and both of these entries come highly recommended. Both are very thick tomes, but, in my view, those generally make the best biographies. There has been a lot written about Hitchcock and, if you are looking for a strict biography, you can’t lose with McGilligan’s book. As for Fritz Lang, there are not as many choice available. It doesn’t matter really. McGilligan’s book will be hard to dethrone.