One of his five favorite books on film, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
Who the Hell's in It?Read about the other books on the list.
by Peter Bogdanovich (2004)
Director Peter Bodganovich's essays on 25 Hollywood stars, from Lillian Gish to River Phoenix, are so full of insight that the "portraits and conversations" make you appreciate all the more the subtleties of his on-camera work in "The Sopranos." Bogdanovich likes to claim that the actors who become stars are those who have a gift for standing in front of a camera and doing nothing, but he knows that an awful lot goes into that seeming inertness. There are joyously good pieces on the luminescent power of Marilyn Monroe ("a poor bastard angel child"), Humphrey Bogart ("when he smiled only the lower lip moved") and John Wayne ("America's twentieth century Hercules moving across a world of illusion he had more than conquered"). The best reason to read the book, though, is the chapter on Marlon Brando, which sees into the black hole that lies beyond stardom. "He challenged himself never to be the same ... refusing to become the kind of film star the studio system had invented," Bogdanovich writes, before teasing out the curious way that Brando's desire to disappear into his roles made his fans even more determined to find him.
Learn about Michael Wood's top ten books on film.