The Bookshelf

Article excerpt

Film critic Peter Stowall's John Ford offers original insights into Ford's vision of the American dream. He charts the different styles that identify Ford's films, and outlines the narrative structure of Stagecoach and The Searchers as prototypes of the director's pictorial and thematic fusion between the real history of America's growth and its mythical counterpart (G.K. Hall, Boston, $16.95).

The liberal political views of Jean Renoir and their reflection in his films are explored with thoughtful objectivity in Christopher Faulkner's The Social Cinema of Jean Renoir. The book also describes descerningly Renoir's evolution from his socially explicit films (La Règle du Jeu, La Grande Illusion] to esthetically oriented movies like The River and French Cancan (Princeton U. Press, Princeton, NJ, $35).

Two slim but significant volumes of writings by Sergei Eisenstein add to our understanding of the Soviet director's contribution to cinema. Edited by leading Eisenstein expert Jay Leyda, The Short Fiction Scenario and Eisenstein 2 deal respectively with the film adaptation of literary material, and with theoretical and personal considerations of filmic problems (Ungar. NYC, $7.95 ea.).

A unique reference work, Film Review Annual 1984, reprints in their entirety reviews published in 23 widely different periodicals. This third annual volume, expertly edited by Jerome S. Ozer, assembles up to 2,000 reviews of some 300 films released in 1984, and includes full cast-&-credits, production data, extensive cross-indexing and major awards, making it an invaluable research tool (Ozer Publ. 340 Tenafly Rd., Englewood, NJ, $75).

In Talking Animals and Other People, Shamus Culhane, a creative artist and a leading figure in the animation field has written a lively, engrossing autobiography that is also a fascinating account of the US animation industry. He describes his collaboration with Disney, Fleischer and Lantz, his contribution to Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Popeye and Betty Boop, and his extensive work in TV commercials (St Martin's, NYC, $24.95).

From Mack Sennett and Hal Roach to MeI Brooks and Woody Alien, Movie Comedians by James L. Neibaur is a thoroughgoing guide with extensive filmographies, to the work of outstanding screen funnymen. The styles and techniques of Chaplin, Keaton, the Marx Brothers, Fields and many others are perceptively assessed and analyzed (McFarland, Jefferson, NC, $25.95).

In Screwball Comedy, Wes D. Gehring takes an informed look at an unconventional film genre where, in a reversal of traditional roles, a determined female pursues a generally incompetent male at the expense of established social patterns (Greenwood, Westpon, CT, $29. …