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All books  Biography
 
Title:  William Cameron Menzies: The Shape of Films to Come
Binding:  Hardcover
Author:  James Curtis
Publisher: Pantheon
Language:  English
ISBN-10: 0375424725
ISBN-13: 9780375424724

Product Dimensions: 
7.1 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
Category(ies) :  Biography
Shipping weights: 
Price: RMB 400.00
Reading level : 
BookDescription
He was the consummate designer of film architecture on a grand scale, influenced by German expressionism and the work of the great European directors. He was known for his visual flair and timeless innovation, a man who meticulously preplanned the color and design of each film through a series of continuity sketches that made clear camera angles, lighting, and the actors’ positions for each scene, translating dramatic conventions of the stage to the new capabilities of film. 
Here is the long-awaited book on William Cameron Menzies, Hollywood’s first and greatest production designer, a job title David O. Selznick invented for Menzies’ extraordinary, all-encompassing, Academy Award–winning work on Gone With the Wind
 (which he effectively co-directed). 

It was Menzies—winner of the first-ever Academy Award for Art Direction, jointly for The Dove(1927) and Tempest (1928), and who was as well a director (fourteen pictures) and a producer (twelve pictures)—who changed the way movies were (and still are) made, in a career that spanned four decades, from the 1920s through the 1950s. His more than 120 films includeRosita (1923), Things to Come (1936), Foreign Correspondent (1940), Kings Row (1942), Mr. Lucky (1943), The Pride of the Yankees (1943), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), Address Unknown (1944), It’s a Wonderful Life (1947), Invaders from Mars (1953), and Around the World in 80 Days (1956).

Now, James Curtis, acclaimed film historian and biographer, writes of Menzies’ life and work as the most influential designer in the history of film. His artistry encompassed the large, scenic drawings of Douglas Fairbanks’ The Thief of Bagdad (1924), which created a new standard for beauty on the screen and whose exotic fairy-tale sets are still regarded as pure genius. (“I sawThe Thief of Bagdad when it first came out,” said Orson Welles—he was, at the time, a nine-year-old boy. “I’ll never forget it.”) Curtis writes of Menzies’ design and supervision of John Barrymore’s Beloved Rogue (1927), a film that remains a masterpiece of craft and synthesis, one of the most distinctive pictures to emerge from Hollywood’s waning days of silent films, and of his extraordinary, opulent appointments for Gone With the Wind (1939).

It was Menzies who defined and solidified the role of art director as having overall control of the look of the motion picture, collaborating with producers like David O. Selznick and Samuel Goldwyn; with directors such as D. W. Griffith, Raoul Walsh, Alfred Hitchcock, Lewis Milestone, and Frank Capra. And with actors as varied as Ingrid Bergman, W. C. Fields, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, John Barrymore, Barbara Stanwyck, Ronald Reagan, Gary Cooper, Vivien Leigh, Carole Lombard, Mary Pickford, Gloria Swanson, and David Niven. 

Interviewing colleagues, actors, directors, friends, and family, and with full access to the William Cameron Menzies family collection of original artwork, correspondence, scrapbooks, and unpublished writing, Curtis brilliantly gives us the path-finding work of the movies’ most daring and dynamic production designer: his evolution as artist, art director, production designer, and director. Here is a portrait of a man in his time that makes clear how the movies were forever transformed by his startling, visionary work.


Synosis


Publisher Comments
Cheers for James Curtis’
WILLIAM CAMERON MENZIES
 
“An important and informative biography that, like its subject, breaks new ground in its field.  Essential for film historians and highly recommended for fans of performing arts biographies.”
                     -Neil Dirksen, Library Journal
 
“For anyone seriously interested in filmmaking, this is a book you’ve been waiting for, whether you know it or not. William Cameron Menzies, the man who more or less invented the idea of production design in movies, casts a very long shadow. The man behind Gone with the Wind, Kings Row, Our Town, Things to Come, Invaders from Mars, Reign of Terror, both versions of The Thief of Bagdad and many, many other films was a genius, pure and simple, and his influence was incalculable. James Curtis’s informative and beautifully written book does a thorough job of bringing Menzies to life.”
                     -Martin Scorsese
 
“A wonderful book about visionary production designer William Cameron Menzies, an unsung hero if there ever was one and yet an artist of almost unparalleled influence . . . Scrupulously researched, detailed, all-encompassing . . . its many delights include lavish, beautiful illustrations of Menzies' sketches as well as photographs of actual films. A whole new world about production design and American movies will open up for those who read this excellent book."
                     -Andre Bishop, Artistic Director of Lincoln Center Theater
 
“Wonderful . . . Curtis fills in all the missing pieces . . . an illuminating, long-overdue book about the man who taught the world how to make a good film.”
                     -Kirkus


About the Author
James Curtis is the author of "W.C. Fields: A Biography", which was awarded the Special Jury Prize by the Theatre Library Association and named one of the Notable Books of the Year by the New York Times. He is also the author of "Spencer Tracy: A Biography," "James Whale: A New World of Gods and Monsters," and "Between Flops," an acclaimed biography of writer-director Preston Sturges. He is married and lives in Brea, California.

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