Sunday, August 7, 2011

Book of the Month, August 2011

I love books. They're fun, educational, and can serve as hip coasters for sweaty beverages.

A few days ago, I watched "Picnic," the 1956 lost youth sudster starring William Holden when he was young and handsome. (Note: It's one of my mom's favorite movies.) Holden has always fascinated me. I read somewhere that he was an avid traveler, so much so that he chose movie roles simply based on shooting locations. And, of course, he was a terrible alcoholic. Both led to his steep decline as a matinee idol.

Looking to learn more, I turned to David Thomson's "New Biographical Dictionary of Film," which is a terrific resource. It contains short, information-packed bios of directors, actors, screenwriters. It's one of those books you can read for hours, primarily because Thomson is such a good writer.

Check about what he writes about Holden: "You could pick a dozen or so maturing close-ups of Holden and the series would tell the horrible story of movies as a marinade called early embalming."

It takes a certain kind of talent to encapsulate an entire career in one swift sentence. Sometimes less is more with good writing. Thomson, and his wonderful book, proves that.

Until next time, read in peace.

P.S.--Holden, amazingly, is in his mid-50s in this still from "Network." Harrison Ford, by comparison, is now 68. Holden suffered one of Hollywood's sadder finales. After a night of drinking, the actor cut his head during a household incident. The worst part? He was conscious for at least 30 minutes after the injury but never called for help. His body was discovered four days later.

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