Happy Saturday, my fellow book loving nerds. It’s nearly the end of April and cold and rainy/damp outside. I suppose I should do some chores around the house. But why do a load of laundry or wash the dishes when I can type up a blog post and later curl up with a fun book?
Did I mention book? Of course, I did. A lovely reader based in the UK sent me a copy of her book. So far, it’s a delight, and a ray of sunshine during the cruel month of April. I hope to have my review up by next week.
I’ve been busy once again in my off-line life. Last week I had to train a couple of my co-workers on some new procedures and I’m awaiting some major news on a big project that might come up during the summer. We shall see….
What else? My mom, a fellow book fan, just had a birthday. We’re getting together to celebrate, first by meeting up at a local Barnes and Noble, and later a celebratory birthday dinner.
April has also kept me busy with Earth Day activities, church, another friend’s birthday, social outings with my fellow nerd friends. But I also have a list of books to read and review so look for those posts shortly. I’m also up for some time off so I’m going to concentrate on my new Twitter feed a wee bit though I certainly realize maintaining a quality blog is of more importance than social media.
Thanks, and have a great week-end!
As if you need reasons to love libraries.
Kick-ass women in historical fiction.
If you enjoyed Patti Smith’s memoir Just Kids, you’ll probably be happy to know she has a new one out called M Train.
As if I couldn’t like Meryl Streep anymore than I do, she’s now funding a program for female screenwriters who are over 40.
Oh snap! Stephen King’s epic burn on the GOP 2016 presidential nominees
Great news! My contact person at the publishing company that sent me the advanced copy of In the Company of Legends loved my review (he told me it’s “just perfect”). Not only that, he was kind enough to send a link of my review to the authors of In the Company of Legends, Joan Kramer and David Heeley. Both Ms. Kramer and Mr. Heeley sent me lovely e-mails telling me how much they appreciated my review. They also posted a link the to book’s Facebook page. I can’t even begin to begin to explain how happy this makes me feel. Well, perhaps I can with a song:
Starting in 1980 and lasting until 2005, documentary filmmakers Joan Kramer and David Heeley focused their creative eye on the best and brightest of Hollywood’s golden age. Beginning with Fred Astaire and including documentaries on other film greats like Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, and Henry Fonda, Kramer and Heeley’s documentaries (many shown on PBS) won countless awards. They also allowed viewers to see these movie stars as they really were beyond the calculated machinations of the old studio system.
Now Kramer and Heeley are sharing their notable filmmaking careers, the stars they covered and all the hard work that went into making these documentaries in their hugely entertaining and fascinating book In the Company of Legends.
Kramer and Heeley’s documentaries showcased these stars film legacies, often bringing on other stars to talk about their peers’ notable work. But these documentaries recognized so much more than a movie star’s career. They also covered the anecdotes, opinions, ideas, friendships and odd quirks that made these stars so much more interesting than the glossy veneer of the studios’ publicity machine. And finding the innate humanity behind these movie stars is probably why Kramer and Heeley’s documentaries were so successful and why In the Company of Legends is such a great read.
While reading In the Company of Legends I couldn’t help be reminded why I love classic movies and the stars that made these movies so legendary. What a body of work these amazing talents left the world.
I also really appreciated the sensitive and respectful nature of Kramer and Heeley’s treatment towards their subjects. They are reverent without debasing themselves and their subjects. They never slip into embarrassing and unprofessional squealing fandom. Kramer and Heeley are both fair and firm (not exactly easy considering some of their subjects could be a bit challenging).
While it was fun to take a walk down a celluloid memory lane, I also loved the various personal stories the authors share about the stars. These stories showed more personable and relatable aspects of the stars. Sure, Katharine Hepburn could be a bit prickly, but when someone accidentally dropped some raspberry sauce on her couch, she just turned over the couch cushion-no muss, no fuss. Jimmy Stewart at the time was frail and a bit insecure, but once he put his toupee on top of his head, he regained some confidence and reminded everyone why he was a true star. The regal Audrey Hepburn made couturier Hubert de Givenchy a household name, but loved to kick back in simple sweaters and trousers (and being Audrey Hepburn, made them effortlessly stylishly). And my mom, a long time fan of the late Paul Newman, will be thrilled to know he was a funny, down-to-earth man, and fully devoted to his wife, Joanne Woodward.
I also learned about the lifelong friendships these stars had with each other. Jimmy Stewart and his wife Gloria were friends with President Reagan and the first lady, Nancy Reagan. Judy Garland was close to President Kennedy and would sometimes sing her signature song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to him. The oddest and most surprising friendship had to be the one Katharine Hepburn had with Michael Jackson. And she wasn’t exactly thrilled with his vulgar stage moves, and let him know it! Does that surprise you?
Through the In the Company of Legends I also learned about legendary movie mogul Lew Wasserman of MCA/Universal, the controversial theater troupe The Group Theatre, which was accused of being rife with Communists, and character actor John Garfield who you probably best know from the movie “Gentleman’s Agreement.”
Inspired by Kramer and Heeley I will probably treat myself to a classic movie binge some upcoming week-end. And I’m thrilled my local library carries some of Kramer and Heely’s work. You know I’ll be checking them out soon.
As much as I enjoyed reading In the Company of Legends, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of a loss. I know we will never go back to Hollywood’s golden age and the studio system, which is probably a topic for another book. However, I do feel a sense of melancholy on how fame has been so cheapened in this day of insipid bloggers, reality show cretins and other assorted D-list celebrities. In the Company of Legends reminds the important of talent and hardwork that leads to lasting and deserving fame. One I hope our society can get back to. But nevertheless, thank Joan Kramer and David Heeley. In the Company of Legends is a book I will treasure and turn to again.
In this day and age of Amazon and chain bookstores, it’s a comfort to find amazing independent books shops. And eight of them are located right here in Milwaukee, including one of my favorites Boswell Book Company.
Why should young whipper-snappers get all the book deals? Fifty and over? Write that book!
Forget spring cleaning; how about some spring reading?
As a woman who has chosen not to have children, I totally want to read this book!