I have given in to entreaty. Demand might be too strong a word. Or you could say, using a phrase that I hope is consigned to the past, I have responded to “constructive criticism.”
I have been contacted by a goodly number of my readers wondering, to save them trawling through what is now close on 750 reviews, whether there was another, simpler, way for them to pore through the collection. If there was, in other words, a way of putting the collection together in a manner that could be accessed in one fell swoop.
Fortunately, I came up with a solution. I could publish them in book form, both in Kindle and for those, like myself, who prefer to hold a physical object, as printed material. Unfortunately, it would not be possible to put the entire set of reviews in one book. I’m not saying it would bust the Internet, but a book over 500,000 words long would be a very sizeable undertaking in either format. I should know, I got into trouble with my American publisher McFarland for delivering a book that totalled 250,000 words (Coming Back to a Theater Near You, in case you’re interested.)
So I’m publishing the works in stages and as two separate publications, although the titles, I have to admit, and the covers as well for that matter, are similar.
1960s Movies: Behind the Scenes Volume One does what it says on the tin. It’s a collection of the first 30-odd articles examining what went wrong or right in making particular movies during the decade. It ranges from Battle of the Bulge (1965), Dr No (1962), The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968) and now, officially, the greatest western ever made Once Upon a Time in the West (1969) to Operation Kid Brother (1967), Secret Ceremony (1969) and The Ipcress File (1965) plus the Alistair MacLean quartet of The Secret Ways (1961), The Guns of Navarone (1961), The Satan Bug (1965) and Ice Station Zebra (1968).
In addition, there is a sampling of two other popular features of the Blog , “Book into Film” and “Pressbooks,” – a couple of interviews and various articles on developments that affected the industry during the decade. There are illustrations throughout.
1960s Movies Redux Volume One is a companion piece featuring over 100 movies, including many of the pictures covered in the Behind the Scenes book, roughly presented in the order they originally appeared in the Blog. Ideal if you’ve still got a lot of catching up to do and don’t want to battle through the Blog to the beginning.
The content of this book varies from The Swimmer (1968), The Bedford Incident (1964), Point Blank (1967) and The Venetian Affair (1966) to The Blue Max (1966), Ocean’s 11 (1960), The Fox (1967), The Lost Continent (1968), Pharaoh (1966) and Moment to Moment (1966). But “varies” is an understatement as it swings at random through every genre.
There is no particular logic to my selection of movies to review, just what happens to be handy or something I’ve taken a notion to see. Again, there are illustrations throughout.
Skip back a decade and you’ll come to my third book Paisley at the Pictures, Part III: 1952. As the title suggest, this is in fact a sequel. In fact, it’s a sequel to a sequel as the previous book in the series Paisley at the Pictures, 1951 embodied the word “sequel” in the title.
Paisley, in Scotland, in case you didn’t know, is a large town, only a few thousand bodies short of qualifying as a city, and at the time eight cinemas served a population of 93,000. Seating capacity for the octet was just over 13,000 so on a Saturday night -. given that moviegoing was hugely popular especially before the advent of television – there was no guarantee you would get a ticket to the movie of your choice.
Six of the picture houses showed first run and two second run. Few movies ran for six days, most theaters operating on a split-week basis, one program running Mon-Wed and another Thu-Sat. (Films only ran on a Sunday if it was a charity fund-raiser.) Most programs were double bills. But over 1200 films were screened. And since Paisley was way down the movie distribution food chain it was mostly showing pictures that were months or possibly years old. There was, in any case, no such thing as the global wide release seventy years ago and only in very rare instances anything approaching day-and-date.
Historically, the year was significant for it marked the introduction of the X-certificate and the Eady Levy, a form of tax rebate to encourage film production. Sci-fi boomed. B-pictures could still be guaranteed an audience, as could serials. And cinemas began to welcome, on occasion, foreign fare.
The top films of the year in Paisley were: An American in Paris (1951), Singin’ in the Rain (1952), Show Boat (1951), Ivanhoe (1951), The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), The African Queen (1951), The Quiet Man (1952), The World in His Arms (1952), Laughter in Paradise (1951) and Jungle Jim in the Forbidden Land (1952).
Except for the latter these chimed with the top movies shown that year or in 1951 in the rest of Britain and, for that matter, excepting the British-made movie, the United States.
But that was not the case for the most popular stars.
The Top Ten stars in Paisley were: Randolph Scott, Virginia Mayo, Roy Rogers, Rod Cameron, Humphrey Bogart, Doris Day, Gregory Peck, John Wayne, Errol Flynn, and in joint tenth position Glenn Ford and Susan Hayward. These rankings might come as a shock to anyone who takes the annual top tens published in the trade press as gospel. But I suspect there were as many local variations on the national scale elsewhere as here. The annual charts tended to flatten out local differences and favor stars who were more popular in bigger cities.
An appendix lists all the films shown in Paisley cinemas that year, by month and by venue. There are over 120 illustrations, some very rare, many drawn from my collection of Pressbooks.
Now, down to the sticky matter of cost. You’ll be delighted to hear that both the 1960s books cost, as they say, less than a cup of coffee. On Kindle both are priced at $2.99 (£2.34 at current exchange rates for British readers and the equivalent for other countries). Printed copies cost £10 (around $12). And if you want your printed copy signed, that can probably be arranged. Both are available on Amazon, Kindle and enlightened bookshops.
Due to the huge number of illustrations – over 120 – the Paisley book is not available on Kindle, only in book form and costs £10 (about $12). But I’m working on a Kindle edition that reduces the number of illustrations,
If you are not interested in buying the books themselves I would be grateful if you could, nonetheless, circulate the information.
But, of course, I probably don’t have to point out that they will make ideal Xmas presents.