Looking for something good to read? Here are some suggestions for fans of Louise Brooks and early film – be it the silent era, pre-code, or golden age of Hollywood. Fans of Louise Brooks will also want to check out the “Best 2012 releases for the Louise Brooks Fan” which appeared earlier on examiner.com. It includes newly released books, e-books and DVDs. Also, a “Best Film Books of 2012” appeared on the Huffington Post. It includes books on Mae Murray, Thelma Todd, Mary Pickford, Lupe Velez and other noted individuals from the silent era.

As just about every Louise Brooks fan knows, the actress made two films in Germany, Pandora’s Box and Diary of a Lost Girl (both 1929). Each were made against the backdrop of considerable artistic ferment and social change. All, it seemed then, was in flux.

This year and last, a handful of academic and specialty presses released books which look at various aspects of the Weimar era in Germany. Here are a few of most interesting titles which sketch that time and place. Each book is followed by the publisher supplied description.

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Best Film Books of 2012

December 27, 2012

Despite those who proclaim the death of the book as well as death of film, it has been a great year for books about movies.

Four of our smartest film critics released thought provoking new books which take a look at the big picture. They are The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies by David Thomson, Do the Movies Have a Future? by David Denby, Film After Film: (Or, What Became of 21st Century Cinema?) by J. Hoberman, and Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame by Ty Burr. Each are recommended.

Looking over the other film books released in 2012, it’s striking how many of the best of them — or at least the most compelling and interesting titles — are biographies, memoirs or a hybrid biographical-career study. The movies are about story-telling. And if you have an interest in film, there is something about the life story of an actor or director that makes for good reading — especially if that story is well told or groundbreaking in some way.

Here are a baker’s dozen of the best film books published in 2012, listed alphabetically by author. Admittedly, I love old movies and classic Hollywood — and this list reflects that preference. One could ask, “Are these the best film books of the year?” I think so. The annotated slide show highlights the dozen recommended works listed here.

There are also four additional titles noted at the end which couldn’t be included in a top 12, but are also worth checking out.

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It’s that time of the year when critics, journalists, bloggers and others issue their “Best of” lists – the year’s recommended new releases in the world of books, movies, music and more. Here’s the best of 2012 with a twist, exceptional new releases for fans of the silent film star Louise Brooks.

Like last year, 2012 saw the release of a small but distinguished number of new releases related to the legendary silent film star. Prominent among them is Laura Moriarty’s widely acclaimed bestselling novel, The Chaperone, as well as a handful of DVD‘s including the first ever DVD release of Brooks’ last film, Overland Stage Raiders. Fans of the actress will want to check out all of these recent releases.

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In the 1920s and 1930s, Jim Tully was a celebrity.

He was a writer. And his writings — a singular brand of rough and tumble fiction and non-fiction — were both popular and critically acclaimed. In his day, Tully’s books appeared on bestseller lists, were adapted for the stage, made into movies, and got reviewed and discussed in major publications across the country. One of his most controversial books was even banned, and a large part of its first edition destroyed. The essayist and editor H.L. Mencken wrote, “If Tully were a Russian, read in translation, all the Professors would be hymning him.”

"Jim

Despite his celebrity, few today have heard of Tully. In the years following WWII, his reputation waned — but not because he was considered out-of-date. If anything, Tully was years ahead of his time. Some consider Tully a precursor to the “hard-boiled” school. In the 1920s, Tully wasn’t writing about the glitz and glamor of the Jazz Age like F. Scott Fitzgerald. Rather, his sinuous and sometimes muscular prose concerned petty criminals, addicts, hobos and other misfits of society. Charles Willeford, one of the leading hard-boiled crime fiction writers of the post WWII era, has praised Tully and written of his influence.

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The fall promises to be a great season for books about the movies and movie stars. Three of the most insightful critics writing today — David Thomson, David Denby and Ty Burr — each have new books coming out, as does one of our most accomplished film historians, Anthony Slide.

The Fall 2012 Season will also see a handful of promising biographies and biographical studies on the likes of Henry Fonda, Lyle Talbot and Lew Ayres, along with more broadly themed works of film history. Women also come in for consideration, and reconsideration, with exceptional new books on two early film superstars, Mary Pickford — “America’s Sweetheart,” and Mae Murray — “the girl with the bee-stung lips.”

These days, university presses are publishing some of the best and most provocative books on film and film history. Don’t miss Go West, Young Women!: The Rise of Early Hollywood by Hilary Hallett, due out in December from the University of California Press.

Besides the ten recommended titles which follow, there are other new releases also worth checking out, like Variety: An Illustrated History of the World from the Most Important Magazine in Hollywood, by Tim Gray (Rizzoli), and John Wayne: The Legend and the Man: An Exclusive Look Inside the Duke’s Archives(powerHouse Books). Oh, and Uggie (the canine star of The Artist) also has a book due in October. It’s Uggie — My Story: A Memoir by Uggie (Gallery Books).

Seen the movies? Now read the books. Here’s a guide, ordered by date-of-release, to the big new releases and lesser-known titles which should pique the interest of film buffs and book lovers alike.

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Speaking of silent film, speaking of authors of books for kids, and speaking of the Oscars – did you know that The Artist wasn’t the only “silent film” to take home an Academy Award at this year’s Oscars? The other was The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg. It took home the Oscar for Best Animated Short.

Not strictly a silent film – just as The Artist has sound effects and a musical score, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is an animated motion picture without dialogue. And though not a talkie, it does have plenty of words, including those on the pages of flying books which help advance the story.

For those unfamiliar with his work, William Joyce is much beloved author and illustrator with dozens of picture books to his credit. He is the author of George Shrinks (1985), Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo (1988), A Day with Wilbur Robinson (1990), Santa Calls(1993) and other popular books for young people. Joyce has also had his hand in films, includingToy Story (1995) and Buddy (1997), as well as an Emmy award winning television series, Rolie Polie Olie (1998–2006), which was based on his series of books of the same name. And for a local connection, Joyce was also responsible for the art which adorns the cover of Michael Chabon’s 2002 young adult novel, Summerland.

There is an air of wistfulness and a sense of nostalgia in Joyce’s work, which is one reason I find it appealing. His style recalls the work of earlier artists and illustrators. On his website, Joyce states the idea for The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore was inspired by a friend and mentor, “Bill Morris, a lover of books and a grand old gentleman of children’s book publishing.”

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

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San Francisco’s rich journalistic tradition got off to a rocky start. In 1848, two early San Francisco publications, the Star (founded in 1847) and Californian (founded in 1846 in Monterey) suspended publication when their readership largely deserted the City for the gold fields to the east. Actually, more than the paper’s readers left town. So had Edward Cleveland Kemble, the editor of the Californian. Like so many others, he hoped to strike it rich in search of gold.

When Kemble returned in 1849, he joined with two recent arrivals and affected a merger with the defunct Star and Californian to form the Alta California – the first newspaper in the State to continue for any length of time.

This Date in San Francisco

This Date in San Francisco

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Jack Tillmany is a recognized authority on movies and movie culture – especially its local history. The Richmond district native is the former owner of the Gateway Cinema in San Francisco, a local pioneer in revival programming, and the author of Theatres of San Francisco (Arcadia, 2005) and coauthor of Theatres of Oakland (Arcadia, 2006). If you have any interest in old movie houses, urban architecture, or local history – each are must have books.

Gary Lee Parks is a south Bay resident and a board member of the Theatre Historical Society of America. As such, he has long assisted in the preservation of historic Bay Area theatres as both a professional and a volunteer. He also knows a lot, and is the author of the equally valuableTheatres of San Jose (Arcadia, 2009).

Recently, Tillmany and Parks met in the middle, as it were – and authored another fine title,Theatres of the San Francisco Peninsula (Arcadia, 2011). This recently published 127 page pictorial surveys the region’s many movie houses both past and present.

Theatres of the San Francisco Peninsula

Theatres of the San Francisco Peninsula

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From the time of his screen debut in 1930, Spencer Tracy was considered one of the finest actors in Hollywood. The sturdy, congenial everyman won back-to-back Oscars in 1937 and 1938, and in the course of his long career, was nominated for the Best Actor award a record nine times. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Tracy among the ten greatest male stars in film history.

Adept at both drama and comedy, Tracy appeared in many popular and critically acclaimed films including The Power and the Glory (1933), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941), Tortilla Flat (1942), The Old Man and the Sea (1953), Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World(1963), and what would become his final work, the celebrated Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner(1967). Tracy, then 67 years old and in failing health, died only 17 days after filming was completed on the then topical, Stanley Kramer directed movie.

Spencer Tracy

Spencer Tracy: A Biography

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Susan Orlean’s new book, Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend (Simon & Schuster) is the story of a dog – a very special dog.

Susan Orlean

Susan Orlean

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