A face that any lover of classic Hollywood movies will instantly recognise, Clifton Webb was an unlikely superstar of the studio system in the 1940s and 50s. His arch, waspish and somewhat effete manner made him an unlikely candidate for stardom, but his wonderful way with a line (and sneer!) ensured that he could dominate any scene he was put into; his very first film role in Laura earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. This biography was actually begun by Webb himself but never completed, and the co-author David Smith has done an excellent job in completing the picture of this most fascinating denizen of Tinseltown.
Certainly for film buffs of my generation Jaws takes its place as one of those iconic moments in cinema, one of those, “do you remember when you first saw?” scenarios; and yes, I remember quite distinctly watching most of it through barely spread fingers at the old Forum cinema (the audience started screaming during the opening credits!). This extraordinary book is a tribute to the film itself, as well as the hundreds of local people on Martha’s Vineyard who took part in the filming of what was to become a true cultural phenomenon. Packed with previously unseen photos taken by the locals, interviews, reminiscences and a scrapbook-like charting of day-to-day filming, it is truly unputdownable for those of us who still love that big, rubbery shark!
The art of Chris Foss will undoubtedly be best known to readers of science-fiction where his glistening, futuristic and highly detailed renderings of space-age hardware and landscapes have long graced countless book covers. If the true art of fantastic literature is to make you believe in the unbelievable, then Chris Foss’s photo-realist interpretations must surely get some of the credit for establishing the way we imagine the future will (or should) look.
I’m not sure how many “best loved bands” there are in Australia, but Powderfinger would certainly be in contention for the title. Hailing from Brisbane in the late 1980s, the band’s astonishingly successful career lasted for over twenty years and only came to an end towards the end 0f 2010 when they announced their intention to draw things to a close. This book, written by the band members in collaboration with rock journalist and author Dino Scatena, tells their story in their own words, and is chock full of photos of their lives onstage and off.
I think that its been true for a while now that some of the best critical writing on film & television is actually coming from the television side of the equation. You could argue that this is because television has unexpectedly become the more interesting medium over the last few years, although the re-examination of shows and genres from earlier periods would suggest that it’s more a case of the critical establishment simply catching up with something the viewing public already knew. Whatever the case, it’s great to see collections such as this which approach TV programmes with the respect previously reserved for a canonical few filmmakers; and very entertainingly written to boot!