Monday, November 15, 2010

Five first-rate tales of making movies

David Thomson is the author of The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, now in its fifth edition.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of books about making movies. One title on the list:
Final Cut
by Steven Bach (1985)

In 1981, Michael Cimino's "Heaven's Gate" opened in theaters—and closed down its studio, United Artists. This was a tragedy, but traditional Hollywood studios were doomed anyway. The picture cost too much, it went too far into the wilds of Wyoming, it cast a French actress no one had heard of (Isabelle Huppert!), and it was the Waterloo of the auteur theory—Cimino had been permitted to do nearly anything he could think of. What makes "Final Cut'' so rueful and readable is that Steven Bach was at the time a top executive at United Artists—one who was fired in the "Heaven's Gate" aftermath. In the book he is also a dry, funny, very smart writer who pulls no punches and gives a controlled portrait of how things spun out of control. "Final Cut" is also a book about professional vulnerability in status-obsessed Hollywood, where Cimino (the "genius" from "The Deer Hunter") has long been consigned to oblivion. Here's the kicker: More and more viewers now realize that "Heaven's Gate" is pretty good!
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue