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A brilliantly insightful and witty examination of beloved and little-known films, directors, and stars by one of America’s most esteemed critics.

In his illuminating new work, Gary Giddins explores the evolution of film, from the first moving pictures and peepshows to the digital era of DVDs and online video-streaming. New technologies have changed our experience of cinema forever; we have peeled away from the crowded theater to be home alone with classic cinema. Recounting the technological developments that films have undergone, Warning Shadows travels through time and across genres to explore the impact of the industry’s most famous classics and forgotten gems. Essays such as “Houdini Escapes! From the Vaults! Of the Past!,” “Edward G. Robinson, See,” and “Prestige and Pretension (Pride and Prejudice)” capture the wit and magic of classic cinema. Each chapter—ranging from the horror films of Hitchcock to the fantastical frames of Disney—provides readers with engaging analyses of influential films and the directors and actors who made them possible.

About the Author

Gary Giddins is the Executive Director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography at the City University of New York. He was the Village Voice jazz columnist for over 30 years and remains a preeminent jazz critic who received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award, and the Bell Atlantic Award for Visions of Jazz: The First Century in 1998. His other books include Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams: The Early Years, 1903–1940, which won the Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award and the ARSC Award for Excellence in Historical Sound Research; Weatherbird: Jazz at the Dawn of Its Second Century; Faces in the Crowd; Natural Selection; Warning Shadows; and biographies of Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker. He has won an unparalleled six ASCAP–Deems Taylor Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Peabody Award in Broadcasting.

Praise For…

Giddins is the ideal couch companion, erudite but relaxed and witty; his perceptive commentary shows that it’s not what you watch, it’s how you watch it.
— Publishers Weekly

Witty, informed, insightful...Warning Shadows makes me want to watch or re-watch nearly every movie [Giddins] discusses.

— Lawrence Levi - Los Angeles Times

Giddins writes with empathy and insight on such cinematic icons as Edward G. Robinson and Joan Crawford, paying close attention to the meanings of their mannerisms and their enduring fascination as creators of quirky behavior. The essays on directors Samuel Fuller and Sidney Lumet are shrewd appreciations of their cinematic styles; unlike most film reviewers, Giddins knows his way around visual language and uses his jazzy sense of verbal style to zero in on cinematic touches that convey a vision of the world.
— Joseph McBride - San Francisco Chronicle

Most film fanatics I know keep several film guides within arm's reach of their home cinemas, then use supplementary texts by such writers as Peter Bogdanovich, Gerald Mast and Ephraim Katz. To this batch on my shelf, I have added Warning Shadows.

— William Kist - Cleveland Plain Dealer

[S]hould be in the knapsack or survival kit of every Golden Age Hollywood enthusiast/amateur scholar/completist queen as a standby Bible for instruction, inspiration, and succor.
— James Wolcott - VanityFair.com

[Giddins'] first book wholly devoted to movies is the real deal, a deeply reflective work bristling with the kind of scholarship that also feels spontaneous.... Giddins’s headlong sentences and rapid-fire associations sometimes remind me of Preston Sturges: the apparent chaos is under total control.
— Tim Appelo - Columbia Journalism Review
Product Details
ISBN: 9780393337921
ISBN-10: 0393337928
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: April 19th, 2010
Pages: 418
Language: English