James Whale directed some of the most stylish and unusual movies of the 1930s but he was most successful in a genre he virtually invented. For it was Whale who, in 1931, took a lanky, middle-aged actor and sometime truck-driver named Boris Karloff and cast him as the tragic, patchwork creature of the original Frankenstein. But Whale's success was short-lived. His career faltered and, being openly gay, he found work increasingly hard to get. He quit just ten years after the triumph of Frankenstein, and died a suicide only months before the film's eventual release on television. James Curtis has written the definitive account of the life of this innovative and stylish director.
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You may not recognize James Whale, but you surely recognize his most prominent contribution to American popular culture: Frankenstein's monster, as portrayed by Boris Karloff. Whale, a British expatriate who made his way to Hollywood just as films were making the transition to the talkies, directed both the original Frankenstein (1931) and its sequel, The Bride of Frankenstein (1936), for Universal Pictures. Afraid of being pigeonholed as a horror director (he also made The Invisible Man and The Old Dark House), he eventually insisted on more mainstream projects, including the musical Show Boat and The Road Back, a sequel to All Quiet on the Western Front that flopped at the box office. Today, The Bride of Frankenstein is considered to be his best film, a work that combines moments of genuine suspense with a thoroughly macabre sense of humor.
In 1982, film historian James Curtis wrote his first biography of Whale. James Whale: A New World of Gods and Monsters is not a revision of that book, however, but a substantial reworking involving much in the way of new research. Whale's life story is emblematic of an entire generation of European émigrés who made critical artistic contributions to American film only to find themselves in ultimate obscurity. Although recent fictional and truthful accounts of Whale's life have emphasized his homosexuality--even the jacket cover of this book cites it as the reason for Hollywood's eventual rejection of Whale--Curtis himself tells a more nuanced tale. Certainly, Whale made no attempts to hide his preference for men; at the same time, he made his sexual orientation neither a prominent feature of his personal life nor his movies. While it's possible that he was fired from Columbia Pictures in 1941 because of homophobia on the part of studio owner Harry Cohn, it should also be noted that it didn't take much to get on the bad side of Harry Cohn and that, perhaps more to the point, Whale hadn't had a significant commercial hit in five years.
Curtis's biography is filled with fascinating anecdotes from David Lewis, Whale's longtime companion, and several of the actors who worked with Whale, including Peter Cushing and Gloria (Titanic) Stuart. It also has a rich appreciation of the artistic qualities of Whale's work. It is, in short, the sort of critical biography that any film director would hope to have. --Ron HoganFrom the Author:
In 1982, the late William K. Everson reviewed a little 267-page book I had written about the life of James Whale. At the time I thought it was pretty good, and so did Everson. "Probably there will be other books on Whale," Everson wrote, "including, I hope, one devoted primarily to the films themselves. But if one should come along to be the glossy equivalent of Whale's own The Bride of Frankenstein, then this initial book must be considered the parallel to Whale's original Frankenstein: flawed, rough-hewn, but still the basic work from which others must derive." I had no idea how prophetic Everson's words would be, for just as it eventually fell to Whale to improve upon his own original, so it was with me. In 1993, I decided I had not done justice to the subject of James Whale. I began researching his life all over again and rewriting it from scratch. This book is the result of that work.
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Descrizione libro Faber & Faber, 1998. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria DADAX0571192858
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Descrizione libro Faber and Faber, 1998. Soft cover. Condizione libro: New. New book with shelf dust markings to bottom of page edges. Otherwise excellent condition. Codice libro della libreria 000747
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