The Bookshelf

Article excerpt

Alain Silver's definitive study of a traditional movie genre, The Samurai Film, traces the development of the folkloric warrior figure throughout Japan's history and its image on the screen. Universally popular, the Samurai film is presented in this engrossing book in all its visual and thematic diversity (Overlook Press, New York, $17.95.)

In Mythmakers of the American Dream, Wiley Lee Umphlett examines how visual forms of popular culture have conditioned contemporary society into accepting a fantasized view of reality. Creative artists in film, television and the print media - the "mythmakers" - are shown as catering to this escapist retreat from a threatening technology (Cornwall Books, Cranbury. NJ; $40).

The legendary Sid Grauman, whose Chinese Theater in Hollywood still stands as the archetype of movie palaces, is celebrated by Charles Beardsley in Hollywood Master Showman, an entertaining and informative volume (Cornwall Books, Cranbury, NJ; $19.95).

Three current biographies reflect the glories and heartaches of Hollywood's past. In Barbara Stanwyck, Al DiOrio portrays feelingly a hardworking actress trying to balance her chaotic private life with the demands of her career (Coward McCann, New York, $15.95). Alexander Walker, in Joan Crawford, offers mostly a superb collection of stills but somehow fails to do justice to the ironwilled drive that motivated her (Harper & Row, New York, $24.95). In Ingrid Bergman, John Russell Taylor paints a moving portrait of a complex personality, capturing the essential uniqueness of her talent (St. Martin's, New York. $12.95).

Drawing on her experience as a former child star, Andrea Darvi provides in Pretty Babies a behind-the-scenes exposé of the often exploitive and emotionally scarred lives of many Hollywood child actors (McGraw-Hill, New York, $14.95).

Robert Burt's fond look at rock/pop culture films gives a nostalgic aura to Rockerama: 25 Years of Teen Screen Idols. Well chosen stills and an informative text illuminate an era when revolt against the older generation took such varied forms as Brando's The Wild One, Presley's Flock Around the Clock and the Beach Blanket Bingo syndrome (Delilah, New York, $12.95).

A paperback reprint, Peter Cowie's The Cinema of Orson Welles is a perceptive study of Welles' directorial and acting career, noting the imaginative developments that he, with cinematographer Gregg Toland, introduced some 40 years ago (DaCapo, New York, $9. …