Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pictures at a Revolution by Mark Harris

The five movies nominated for Best Picture of 1967 were Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?, and Dr. Dolittle. Pictures at a Revolution profiles each of them from conception to release and beyond, providing not only the stories of the making of each individual film, but a broader picture of Hollywood in the 60s, not to mention the overall culture and atmosphere of the era. That year marked a kind of turning point for American film-making, heralding the coming decade of the 70s--and some of the best movies to ever have come out of the Hollywood system. The five nominees nicely represent both the new and the old, the generational divide sharply on display.

The book provides a fascinating if not exhausting look at how hard it is to get a film produced, as well as the rather arbitrary forming of the cultural landscape and icons of the day. At one point Bonnie and Clyde was to be directed by Jean-Luc Godard, who wanted to film it in New Jersey in the middle of winter with Elliott Gould starring as Clyde Barrow. (I actually kind of wish that had come to fruition.)

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