Sunday Book Reviews – 8/16/20

Bookshelf books, photo by Alien Motives

Case History of a Movie by Dore Schary (1950, Random House)

Negative side: it’s dated. Some of the processes discussed don’t exist anymore, or have dramatically changed.

Positive side: everything else.

This is a comprehensive guide to the creation of a feature film, addressing the creative process from the beginning (the story source) to the end (print and ship). Schary’s credentials as a sherpa are impeccable; at the time of the writing he was in charge of production at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer after having spent decades as a director and producer. A year after the book’s release, he was elevated to President of the studio.

The book charts the development of a movie in stages, with anecdotes from Schary’s projects simultaneously providing examples and giving contemporaneous readers a glimpse behind the scenes of some widely appreciated films. It won’t be particularly interesting to those who don’t care about movie making or who lack knowledge about movies of the 1930s through 1950s. To those who are curious about either of those topics the book is an absolute trove of information… a Master Class sixty years before they were invented.

As an older book, it’s slipped into public domain, which has in turn led to its being made available cheaply by print-on-demand outlets.

The Log by Craig Charles (1997, Penguin)

Subtitled “A Dwarfer’s Guide to Everything” and featuring a cover image of the author in his starring role as the Red Dwarf character of Dave Lister, it would be reasonable to assume this book was written for fans of the comedic science fiction show. That assumption would be incorrect.

The book is undeniably targeted toward inducing purchases from those fans, but the meat of the writing is that of a traditional humor book. Charles has often supplemented his acting roles by performing stand-up comedy, and this book is a fairly standard example of contemporary stand-up… small chapters, simple wordplay, observational humor, exaggeration for effect.

If this sounds dismissive, it isn’t meant to be. The book works and is suitably entertaining. It’s reminiscent of a British version of Drew Carey’s Dirty Jokes and Beer, which was released around the same time as The Log, but without as many sexual jokes. It’s an extended stand-up routine put to paper, and that’s not a bad thing provided you know what you’re getting into.

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.