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Film Studies Books

Our peer-reviewed Film Studies books combine academic rigour with readability; they cover films and filmmakers in Britain, Continental Europe, the US, Japan and Mexico.

Mitchum, Mexico and the Good Neighbours Era

by Liam White

book social history film studies publishers Robert Mitchum was one of the most charismatic stars of the 'classic Hollywood' era. His screen persona was the essence of cool: tough but vulnerable, accepting of his fate with languid charm and easy humour. His films have often been seen through the lens of film noir, but they had something else in common too: the characters he played in Out of the Past, The Big Steal, His Kind of Woman, Second Chance, Where Danger Lives, and Angel Face seemed irrevocably drawn to Mexico. Mitchum's sequence of films south of the border coincided with the advent of the 'golden age' of Mexico's own film industry, a new cinematic wave led by director Emilio Fernández and cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa whose 1943 film María Candelaria, starring former Hollywood siren Dolores del Rio, had won a prize at Cannes. Under the Roosevelt administration's 'Good Neighbour' policy - a wartime effort to court friendly Latin American countries - Hollywood's portrayal of Mexico changed: out went the all-purpose exoticism and in came a more nuanced approach. In this authoritative study, Liam White encourages us to take a fresh look at how Mitchum's films broke with Hollywood convention in the way they depicted Mexico; how Mexico's own film industry boomed; and how its success attracted significant US talent - from John Steinbeck to John Ford - to work on bi-national projects.

Illustrated paperback, 244 pages, £14.99
ISBN 978-1-909183-44-5
Read an extract from Mitchum, Mexico and the Good Neighbours Era in Issue No. 5 of Inside Story

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England's Secret Weapon

The Wartime Films of Sherlock Holmes
by Amanda J Field

book social history film studies publishers This authoritative study examines the way Hollywood used Sherlock Holmes in a series of fourteen films that spanned the years of World War II in Europe, from The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1939 to Dressed to Kill in 1946. Basil Rathbone's portrayal of Holmes has influenced every actor who has subsequently played this popular character on film, TV, stage and radio, yet the film series has, until now, been neglected in terms of detailed critical analysis. Though the first two films were set in the detective's 'true' Victorian period, Holmes was then 'updated' and recruited to fight the Nazis. The book looks at the way the studio steered a careful course between modernising the detective and making sure he was still recognisable as the 'old Holmes'. It combines academic rigor with an approachable style, and draws on many previously unseen archive documents.

Illustrated paperback, 264 pages, originally published by Middlesex University Press, £10
ISBN 978-1-911105-45-9
Read an extract from England's Secret Weapon: download in PDF format

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Danny Boyle Lust for Life

Critical analysis of all the films from 'Shallow Grave' to '127 Hours'
by Mark Browning

book social history film studies publishers Danny Boyle is one of contemporary filmmaking's most exciting talents. Since the early 1990s he has steadily created a body of work that defies easy categorisation, from black humour (Shallow Grave), gritty realism (Trainspotting), screwball comedy (A Life Less Ordinary), cult adaptations (The Beach), and horror (28 Days Later), to science fiction (Sunshine), children's drama (Millions), love stories (Slumdog Millionaire) and tales of personal redemption (127 Hours). Boyle's restless energy, vitality and drive find their expression in the celebratory tone of his films - their lust for life. In this book, Mark Browning analyses Boyle's work, discussing the processes by which he absorbs generic and literary influences, the way he gains powerful performances both from inexperienced casts and A-list stars, his portrayal of regional identity, his use of moral dilemmas as a narrative trigger, and the religious undercurrents that permeate his films.

Paperback, 200 pages, £12.99
ISBN 978-0-9565595-1-7
Read an extract from Danny Boyle Lust for Life in Issue No. 1 of Inside Story

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Keeping Quiet: Visual Comedy in the Age of Sound

by Julian Dutton

book social history film studies publishers 'A custard pie in the face of those who say slapstick is dead, by the go-to writer of British visual comedy' - Harry Hill

Keeping Quiet is a love-letter to the modern sight-gag on film and television, tracing the history of physical clowning since the advent of sound. Taking up the story of visual humour where Paul Merton's Silent Comedy leaves off, Julian Dutton charts the lives and work of all the great comedians who chose to remain silent, from Charlie Chaplin - who was determined to resist the 'talkies' - right through to the slapstick of modern-day performers such as Rowan Atkinson, Matt Lucas and Harry Hill. This fascinating chronicle - spanning nine decades - shows how physical comedy, at first overshadowed by dialogue-films in the 1930s, reinvented itself and how this revival was spearheaded by a Frenchman: Jacques Tati. Julian Dutton draws on his own experience as a comedy writer and performer to give an expert analysis of the screen persona and the comedy style of dozens of the screen's best-loved performers including Laurel & Hardy, Buster Keaton, Harpo Marx, Norman Wisdom, Jerry Lewis, Benny Hill, Peter Sellers, Eric Sykes, Marty Feldman, Ronnie Barker and many more. This book will appeal both to the serious student of film, television and theatre - including those aspiring to write or perform comedy - and to the general reader and comedy fan.

Illustrated paperback, 336 pages, £15.99
ISBN 978-1-909183-77-3
Read an extract from Keeping Quiet in Issue 7 of Inside Story

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Inside King Kong: A Journal

by Will Shephard

book social history film studies publishers When actor Will Shephard turned up at the Beverley Hills offices of Dino De Laurentiis, he expected to be interviewed for a modest role in the great man's next production.
"My agent told me on the phone that you were looking for actors who could do animal movements, but she didn't tell me what the film was about," said Will.
"It's King Kong," said the producer.
"You mean a remake of the 1933 film?"
"What's the role I'm being considered for?"
"It's Kong."
And so began an extraordinary few months in Will's life as he joined fellow actor and make-up artist Rick Baker to become the one of the 'guys in the ape suit', striding through miniature jungles, wrestling a giant rubber snake, running amok in Manhattan and scaling the World Trade Center. Inside the suit it was fearsomely hot, the special contact lenses made him dizzy and he frequently had to insert a tube through the gorilla mask in order to breathe. But the illusion was perfect: audiences never knew that the highly publicized, forty-foot tall, mechanical Kong that had cost millions of dollars to develop only got a few seconds of exposure, and that on screen for the rest of the movie were Rick and Will, clad in rubber and bear-hide. Inside King Kong is Will's journal of his experiences on the set in 1976. This delightful, engaging and funny account is accompanied by behind-the-scenes photographs that are being published for the first time.

Illustrated paperback, £10.99
ISBN 978-909183-56-8
Read an extract from Inside King Kong in Issue No. 6 of Inside Story

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