Friday, June 9, 2017

TCR on Films: Roger Moore (1927-2017), Actor and Surprisingly Busy Author

Actor Roger Moore, who died two weeks ago at age 89, became a prolific author in his last decade. Semi-retired and dividing his time between homes in Monaco and Switzerland, the octogenarian Moore turned out three books -- My Word is My Bond: A Memoir (2008), Bond on Bond: Reflections on 50 Years of James Bond Movies (2012), and One Lucky Bastard: Tales from Tinseltown (2014).

According to The Independent, shortly before his death Moore sent a manuscript for a fourth book to his publisher.

Moore writes in a droll, anecdotal manner similar to the authorial style of his old friend, David Niven, who penned the bestselling memoirs The Moon's a Balloon (1971) and Bring on the Empty Horses (1975).

In My Word is My Bond Moore offers a full life story beginning with his lower-middle class London childhood and ending with his volunteer work for UNICEF. In between, of course, is the acting career that started when he was still a teenager and cast as an extra in the British produced film Caesar and Cleopatra (1945) starring Vivien Leigh and Claude Rains. The first half of the book has lots of name dropping, especially those of long bygone British stars. Following the trajectory of Moore's career, his twelve-year stint as James Bond isn't addressed until the second half of the book.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

TCR Celebrates National Classic Movie Day, May 16.

The Committee Room wishes you a Happy National Classic Movie Day! To celebrate classic movies, TCR is taking part in the Five Stars Blogathon, hosted by Classic Film and TV Cafe.

Five Stars Blogathon participants list five of their favorite classic-era stars and offer a brief explanation as to why these stars are favorites. In putting together its list, TCR chose to move past stardom's top, instantly recognizable folks (the level depicted in the illustration above) and give a nod to five less exalted but highly deserving performers. Perhaps reflecting their B list status, all of TCR's favorites may be best known more for their work on television than on the big screen.

Monday, May 15, 2017

TCR on Film: An Interview with Mark A. Vieira, author of "Into the Dark -- The Hidden World of Film Noir, 1941-1950."

In the excellent new book Into the Dark: The Hidden World of Film Noir, 1941 -1950  (Running Press, 2016) veteran author Mark A. Vieira uses first hand accounts to take readers back to the 1940s. Instead of latter day critical analysis, we get reviews and comments from the film noir era along with the reminiscences of performers, including noir specialists Jane Greer and Claire Trevor, and other personnel who were part of the film noir world.

"I determined that film noir truly began in 1941 by reading Los Angeles Times articles of the period," Vieira explained to The Committee Room. "They cited Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon as the first of the 'hard-boiled' trend."

As Vieira points out in Into the Dark, the term film noir was unknown to those who made these films. The term was coined by a French critic in 1946 to describe the large number of crime thrillers and murder dramas coming out of Hollywood but did not come into general use until the 1970s when these stylish films were rediscovered by a new generation of critics and moviegoers.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

TCR on Film: "Unsinkable: A Memoir" by Debbie Reynolds

In tribute to the late Debbie Reynolds, one of the last stars produced by the old Hollywood studio system, The Committee Room takes a look at her memoir Unsinkable (William Morrow, 2013).

In the preface to Unsinkable, Reynolds mentions her first book, Debbie: My Life (William Morrow, 1988), written when the actress was in her fifties and, it would seem, still had a lot of living left to do.  "I can't believe how naive I was when I wrote it," Reynolds in Unsinkable says of the earlier book. She explains that at the time she was writing the first book she was in what she believed was a happy marriage to her third husband, a Virginia real estate developer named Richard Hamlett.

In Unsinkable, Reynolds offers a detailed portrait of Hamlett as a handsome, smooth-talking scoundrel who, she maintains, cold-heartedly entered into marriage with the intention of swindling her. The first third of the book is Reynolds' painstaking and angrily told account of how Hamlett's unscrupulous behavior led to the bankruptcy of her Las Vegas hotel, a venture which she hoped would provide a regular venue for her talents along with a steady income. Consequently, in Unsinkable there is much talk, perhaps too much talk, of lawyers and property deeds and promissory notes.