The Bookshelf

Article excerpt

Bruce Petri's perceptive study, A Theory of American Film, probes George Stevens' career from his beginnings as cameraman and gag writer for Hal Roach to director of such highly praised classics as Shane and Giant. The book discusses in detail the story line of each film, its social implications, the cast's performance and the directors contribution. In a lengthy interview with Petri, Stevens provides discerning insights into his craft. (Garland, NYC $65).

An informative and entertaining study, Hollywood Goes to War looks at the politics, profits and propaganda that affected WWII and post-war movies. Authors Clayton K. Koppes and Gregory D. Black did considerable research as they tracked Washington pressure meant to coordinate film story lines with government views. (Free Press/Macmillan, NYC, $22.50).

An attractive reference volume edited by James Park, Film Yearbook (Vol. 6), a British publication, examines in an engagingly worldly manner US and UK film production. Included are credits and synopses, notable film flops, new faces on the screen, book reviews, assessments of cinema trends and other pertinent data. (St. Martin's, NYC, #5.95).

Peter Cowie's International Film Guide 1988 covers in its 25th anniversary edition a quarter century of production in 61 countries. With his customary thoroughness and reliability, Cowie surveys leading directors and outstanding films, as well as animation, festivals, awards, publications, schools and related activities. (NY Zoetrope, NYC, $14.95).

The 38th edition of John Willis's comprehensive pictorial and statistical record of domestic and foreign films released in the US during 1986, Screen World 1987, accumulates some 10,000 entries and 1,000 stills in a detailed and entertaining overview of movies, personalities and other noteworthy aspects of cinema. (Crown, NYC, $29.95).

The use of computers for animation graphics has brought a new visual dynamism to television commercials and shows, and has enriched spectacularly the panoply of film special effects. The full scope of this development is explored by Cynthia Goodman in Digital Visions, a stimulating book whose lucid text and superb illustration define the achievements of this creative process and its potential. (Abrams, NYC, $29.95/19.95).

A well-researched reference work, Television Westerns compiles close to 150 shows aired between 1946 and 1978. From Gunsmoke and Laramie to Bonanza and Davy Crockett, Richard West evaluates the genres permanence and appeal, as well as its career in network programming and syndication. …