Looking for an impressive reference work for the special silent film fan on your Holiday shopping list? Might we suggest one or two of these recent releases:
Mack Sennett's Fun Factory, by Brent Walker
This is a comprehensive career study and filmography of the pioneering film producer and Academy Award winner Mack Sennett, cofounder of Keystone Studios, home of the Keystone Kops and other vehicles that showcased his innovative slapstick comedy. The filmography included within covers the more than 1,000 films (including some made in the Bay Area) produced, directed, written by, or featuring Sennett between 1908 and 1955, including casts, credits, synopses, production and release dates, locations, cross-references of remade stories and gags, footage excerpted in compilations, identification of prints existing in archives, and other information. This hardcover book also contains detailed biographies of several hundred performers and technical personnel connected with Sennett. There are 280 photographs, and a HUGE index. If your special silent film fan enjoys early comedy, this is the book to get. Mack Sennett's Fun Factory is available at amazon.com or through select Indiebound stores.
The Encyclopedia of Early Cinema, by Richard Abel
This 789-page work, now in a new paperback edition, is a unique one-volume reference work which explores the first 25 years of cinema's development, from the early 1890s to the mid-1910s. These early years in the history of cinema have lately been the subject of resurgent interest and a growing body of scholarship, and have come to be recognized as an extraordinarily diverse period, when moving pictures were quite unlike the kind of cinema that later emerged as the dominant norm.
This encyclopedia covers all aspects of scholarship on early cinema, both traditional and revisionist. It contains articles on the technological and industrial developments, the techniques of film production, the actors and filmmakers of the time, and on the changing modes of representation and narration, as well as the social and cultural contexts within which early films circulated, including topics such as distribution, exhibition and audience. More than 950 entries have been commissioned from internationally recognized specialists, including Robert S. Birchard, Paolo Cherchi Usai, Patrick Loughney, David Robinson and others no doubt familiar to San Francisco audiences. Alphabetically organized, the entries range in length from short factual articles to full essays that offer clear and stimulating discussions of the key issues, people, practices, and phenomena of early cinema. The Encyclopedia of Early Cinema is available at amazon.com or through select Indiebound stores.
George Lucas's Blockbusting, by Alex Ben Block and Lucy Autrey Wilson
It Books, $29.99
Released earlier this year in softcover, George Lucas's Blockbusting: A Decade-by-Decade Survey of Timeless Movies Including Untold Secrets of Their Financial and Cultural Success is a comprehensive 976-page look at 300 of the most financially and / or critically successful motion pictures of all time — many made despite seemingly insurmountable economic, cultural, and political challenges — set against the prevailing production, distribution, exhibition, marketing, and technology trends of each decade in movie business history. The silent era is represented, and the text includes contributions from noted writers and scholars Robert S. Birchard, David Kiehn, Russell Merritt, Michael Sragow and others. George Lucas's Blockbusting is available at amazon.com or through select Indiebound stores.