The StJames Encyclopaedia of Film and Film-makers plus Soft on the Inside, She-Devil and Nuns on the Run.
INDEX: 32 LISTINGS: WEEK ONE 39 WEEK TWO 40
As St James Press launch the Second Edition of their definitive International Dictionary of Films and Film-makers, Trevor Johnston is impressed with the first volume, an in-depth critical survey of some
630 major films.
I'll begin with a confession and admit that I‘d never even heard of the first edition of the St James Press International Dictionary of Films and Film-makers. but when an authority like America's National Review of Motion Pictures says that it‘s ‘undoubtedly the finest book ofits kind. a definitive text,’ then you begin to wonder why the five volumes haven‘t been gracing the shelves of your nearby bookshop. The publishers evidently thought that the pictureless format made the books a little inaccessible to the general reader, and so this new second edition, both expanded and updated, is crammed with all manner ofrare film stills. It’s a handsome, hefty and extremely desirable tome, but with a price
An awe-inspiring amount of research and scholarship is the short answer to that one. Here you‘ll find a carefully-selected group ofsome six hundred films that not only reflects the oeuvres of all the major Hollywood and European film-makers you‘d care to name, but is just as strong on the Indian, Japanese and Third World cinemas. indicates milestones in experimental moviemaking. and traces the silent cinema right back to its roots in the pioneering Lumiere brothers. Each entry includes a critical essay, comprehensive cast-list and credits. and a priceless bibliography, which details not only books and monographs but also important magazine articles and contemporary reviews. With forthcoming volumes on Directors/ F ilm-makers, Actors and Actresses. Writers and Production Artists, and an exhaustive
tag of£55 for the first ofanother proposed five volumes. just what is the film buff getting for the
Title Index to be added over the next two years, the final result should be something ofa monument.
What makes the book so stimulating, however, is the consistent quality of the writing, for editor Nicholas Thomas has assembled a brilliant array ofscholars and critics to comment on each film, assigning the appropriate specialist in many cases. Roy Armes, for instance, is consistently informative on the classics of French cinema, while Andrew Higson offers insightful socio-political analysis of Britain’s celluloid past, and it’s good to see sometime List contributor Kim Newman contributing his always sensible opinions on horror classics like The Fly. Approaches vary throughout, the tremendously opinionated, challenging work of Robin Wood on the likes of ETand Taxi Driver offering a marked contrast to the mere production chronicle offered for Minelli’s The Band Wagon or the notably bland entry on Spielberg‘s Raiders of The Lost Ark (a movie that cries out for a more vigorous reading than Thomas Snyder gives it), but the diversity ofviewpoints and methods actually serves to make the book more compulsiver readable.
In the end, yes, £55 is a lot to spend on any book, but from experience the amount oftime I‘ve already spent between its covers suggests that those with a keen interest in the broad spectrum of the cinema and critical opinion may find the expenditure at length rewarded.
The International Dictionary of Films And Filmmakers is published by St James Press, 3 Percy Street, London W] P 9FA, and can be ordered through your bookseller. Films, the ﬁrst volume of the Second Edition, is now available, priced £55. A limited number of ﬁrst edition volumes are also available from the publisher at a special offer price of £20 each.
_ Inside Job
The collected photographs of revered lensman Herman Leonard went under the title ‘The Eye of Jan’, which is some indication of just how much their studied vistas of smoky monochrome cool have come to typify our visual perception of the music and its players. It's a lifting coincidence that Leonard provided the cover shot for rising British saxophonist Andy Sheppard’s acclaimed second longplayer ‘Introductions In The Darlt', for the same bristIy-topped homman is the subject of Katy Radford’s evocative new film portrait ‘80ft On The Inside‘, which follows Sheppard and his fifteen-piece big band The Rhymlcal Personages on the road and in the
studio recording the excellent album of the same name.
‘The film's very much paying homage to all that Fltles jazz ambience, but what we were trying to do was de-smoltetlse It,’ explains director
Radford, whose aptitude for linguistic cajolery instantly marks her down as a native of the Emerald Isle. ‘We wanted to get all the atmosphere out of the way and treat the performances with more respect for the instruments. We were dealing with liiteen players across the stage so by introducing the keybords, the various saxophones, the percussion and what have you, it gave us a way of organising the material and returned a proper sense of dlgnityto the musicians and their performance.’ As Andy's volceover introduces us to characters as disparate as manic Dutch drummer Han Bennlnlt, cheery British vibesman Orphy Robinson, and serious American trombonist Gary Valente, we become aware of how the players’ personalities fit into the beautifully textured music that malres up ‘Soft On The lnslde’, Sheppard's best release to
date and as such an achievement of some note. ‘In the moments when the musicians weren’t on stage, we were trying to capture moments and create sequences around them that would sum them up as people. Andy’s really quite clever in the way that he’s fitted them all together, because it allows them to be themselves and yet produce the music he wants to create. it you watch them playing together there‘s this instinctive communication that's more about looks and gestures than words. A bit like lovers really’. (Trevor Johnston)
Sell On The Inside receives a one-off cinema screening at Edinburgh Filmhouse on Sun 20 May at 6.45pm, and is simultaneously released on video by Island Visual Arts. The album of the same name is currently available on Antilles Records.
The List 18-31 May 199031