Q3 2020

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49 F A L L Q 3 I S S U E B O O K R E V I E W 1962 was even directed by a woman." Reflecting the culture of the time, 1962 saw no major US releases of films by Americans of color. Other women filmmakers are men- tioned, principally Shirley Clarke, but the emphasis is on press-worthy female stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Rosalind Rus- sell, Angela Lansbury, Doris Day, Jeanne Moreau, Sue Lyons, and Sophia Loren. The most attention is saved for Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?." These two, in a lurid color image – the terrified Crawford and the sinister Davis — pops up on the cover of "Cinema '62." The book explores the facts and the fictions that surround the making of the film, gives their due to these two inimitable stars, and consid- ers "Baby Jane's" lasting camp appeal. Farber and McClellan also employ "Baby Jane" as an emblem of the final gasps of old Hollywood. Only "Lawrence of Arabia" is given more space in the book. Throughout, the authors clarify their message that the early '60s was a more fertile time for the movies than many think. This era in Hollywood is some- times written off as a time of waning talents, collapsing studios, the threat of television, and the box office triumphs of Elvis Presley. Historically, 1939 with "The Wizard of Oz," "Gone With the Wind," "Stagecoach," "Ninotchka," and others, is often lauded as filmmaking's greatest year. Farber and McCellan aim to knock 1939 off that pedestal. In its reckoning of greatness, "Cinema '62" considers foreign language films, many of which have long been accepted classics. Such inclusion is impossible when assessing 1939, when the outbreak of World War II decimated film culture outside the US. A case for either year can be made. Taking all factors into account, includ- ing what films are called cinema and which are movies, it remains up to the reader and the filmgoer to decide which of these is, ultimately, "The Greatest Year at the Movies." ■ Cinema '62: The Greatest Year at the Movies By Stephen Farber and Michael McClellan Forward by Bill Condon 270 pages Rutgers University Press 2020 Joan Crawford and Bette Davis in "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" P H O T O : P H O T O F E S T

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