Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Everything I Consume: Pictures At A Revolution

Lately, almost everything I consume has been Purim candy and over-the-counter allergy or cold remedies (depending on what I think is causing this endless cough and runny nose) and I've fallen way behind on my Everything I Consumes. Heck, I'm two books past this one!

Pictures at the Revolution
by Mark Harris was fantastic, I kept sneaking time in to read it and I was sorry when it was over. Starting with Robert Benton and David Newman conceiving Bonnie and Clyde in 1963 it tells the interwoven story of the five Best Picture nominees from 1967 (Dr. Doolittle, In The Heat of The Night, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner? and The Graduate). The stories of how movies are made are always fascinating and this book goes from conception to creation to production to distribution to Oscar night. There's incredible detail and great interviews with Warren Beatty, Mike Nichols, Dustin Hoffman, Buck Henry and many of the people involved in the five movies. Hovering above it all is Sidney Poitier, the biggest star in the world in 1967 and about to flame out. Harris has some great observations, my favorite being that Hollywood has as much trouble dealing with unexpected successes as unexpected failures. I give it my highest possible recommendation.

When you read a book about a slice in time you can't help but think of how the characters paths diverged after the end of the book. Some on the way up (Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman) and others on the way down (Rex Harrison and Sidney Poitier).

Another reason I was interested in this book was that I was born in 1967. Incredibly, that year's Oscars were midpoint in their history. That year was the 40th Oscars and this year's was the 80th. In my mind 1967 is the edge of current history but it's really quite a while ago.

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