One of our most thoughtful film critics here takes on eight of Hollywood's finest directors in conversation, reminiscing about their working lives which spanned the most intriguing decades of American filmmaking. The directors are Alfred Hitchcock, Frank Capra, Vincente Minnelli, George Cukor, Howard Hawks, William A. Wellman, King Vidor, and Raoul Walsh. Speaking with them, Mr. Schickel found in these men a special quality: “They felt in their bones the character and quality of a vanished America.” There was something valuable to be learned from them, not merely about the cinema but about the conduct of life. Each of these directors created a canon of work that even today sustains critical analysis without sacrificing popular appeal. Each maintained his artistic integrity while working in an atmosphere generally credited with ruining rather than nurturing talent. Their attitudes, Mr. Schickel writes in his introduction, were "composed of a toughness that was never harsh, a pride in achievement that was never boastful, a self-reliance and an acceptance of the difficulties under which they had labored which contained neither self-pity nor a desire to blame others for the things that had gone wrong." Rich in behind-the-scenes stories about such modern classics as It Happened One Night, Dawn Patrol, The Champ, Born Yesterday, Father of the Bride, and Shadow of a Doubt, as well as in anecdotes about the men and women of Hollywood, this book is an enduring tribute to the men who made the movies. With 33 black-and-white photographs. “Immensely readable and richly informative...it provides a real education in just how movies are made.... One of the best introductions to the cinema that one could ask for.”—Library Journal.
Richard Schickel is a film critic for Time magazine and an often-honored observer of American culture. His many books include Intimate Strangers and Matinee Idylls as well as biographies of Clint Eastwood, Marlon Brando, James Cagney, D. W. Griffith, Cary Grant, and Walt Disney. He lives in Los Angeles.