Buck Rainey's Sweethearts of the Sage offers extensive filmo-biographies of 268 actresses appearing in Western movies, a comprehensive reference work covering some 1000 features, from 1903's The Great Train Robbery to the present. The Hollywood Western, by William K. Everson is a well-illustrated, knowledgeable history of the popular genre. It contrasts "formula" Westerns of the past with today's more realistic depiction of the human struggle in the West (McFarland, Jefferson, NC, $95; Carol Publ., NYC, $18.95).
The period of transition that the Soviet cinema is currently experiencing is discussed from firsthand research in The Zero Hour by Andrew Norton and Michael Brashinsky. The authors note the new climate of freedom that has launched many hitherto suppressed themes dealing with troubled youth, women's liberation and the uncertain future (Princeton U. Press, Princeton, NJ, $49.50/14.95).
In The Hispanic Image on the Silver Screen, Alfred Charles Richard, Jr. provides an insightful and informed analysis of the generally stereotypical manner in which American films present Latinos (who number some 14 million in the U.S.). More than 1800 movies from the 1898-1935 period are reviewed in this book. Performers are listed in a separate index, but regrettably, no directors are mentioned (Greenwood, Westport, Conn., $65).
In the Jewish Film Directory, more than 1200 movies produced in 32 countries over the last 85 years are inventoried by an international group of scholars. Ranging from Hollywood's Abie's Irish Rose (1929) to The Eternal Jew (Gemany 1940) and David or Goliath (Denmark 1988), these films document Jewish life in its multifaceted aspects. A related reference work, Grzegorz Balski's Directory of Eastern European Filmmakers and Films, provides biographical data on 350 directors working in ten countries from Russia to Albania, and lists the films they made between 1945 and 1991 (Greenwood, Westport, Conn., $65 and $79.50).
Sam Arkoff, producer of Beach Blanket Bingo and other juvenile B movies, surveys his life in a free-wheeling biography. Flying Through Hollywood by the Seat of My Pants, written with Richard Trubo. "I was never torn between art and commerce," confesses Arkoff, and his successful career proves that he made the right choice (Birch Lane, NYC, $18.95).
Woody Allen's comic universe is examined by Annette Wernblad in Brooklyn is Not Expanding, a searching study of Allen's psychological and philosophical concerns as expressed in his work. Beginning with Allen's debut as a stand-up comedian, Wernblad follows the development of a personality whose preoccupations, anxieties and obsessions permeate all of his films (Fairleigh-Dickinson U. Press, Cranbury, NJ, $29.50).
Novelist Gore Vidal's Screening History is a fascinating memoir that gathers, in a stream-of-consciousness sweep, his reminiscences of youth, reflections on human nature, and scorn for politics. …