Donna's Cool Movies
Movie Biography Books

Dark Lover - Rudolph Valentino

Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino
by Emily Leider

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Although today's moviegoers may not have seen Rudolph Valentino on screen, "they've probably seen his silhouette on packs of Sheik condoms," Leider says, exuding what screenwriter June Mathis called the "smoldering quality" of "a brutish cabaret parasite." In Leider's sprawling biography, Valentino retains the carefully crafted and projected aura of mystery he enjoyed during his mercurial career--and then some. Born Rodolfo Guglielmi in a little southern Italian town, Valentino had a largely undocumented childhood, which Leider fills out, along with the rest of Valentino's early days, with the kind of might-have/must-have/could-have speculation that Edmund Morris applied to Ronald Reagan. No imaginary friends are introduced, but Leider does go on about such matters as how Rudy reacted to Nijinsky's L'Apres-midi d'un faune, because, well, who's to say he didn't see it? Later she deals with Valentino's gender-bending celluloid masculinity, his highly dramatic relationships with the likes of notorious Blavatskyite Natacha Rambova, and his flair for the occult. A comprehensive, if not necessarily crystal-clear, portrait of the great screen lover
-from website

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Edith Head

Edith Head : The Life and Times of Hollywood's Celebrated Costume Designer
by David Chierichetti

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Film historian Chierichetti pays tribute to the grit behind one woman's glamorous career. Head spent more than 40 years at Paramount, won eight Oscars and became as famous as the stars she dressed. Her longevity came thanks to diplomacy and manipulation, and Chierichetti meticulously details her love affairs, touted designs and public appeal. From 1925 until her death in 1981, Head was a byword in Hollywood and an American fashion icon. She endured long hours, modest pay and studio machinations, yet never lost her cool. And she dressed everyone, from Barbara Stanwyck and Grace Kelly to Paul Newman. Draped in dark glasses and severe suits, Head was a master at playing politics and keeping competitors at bay. She was also an accomplished liar, which haunted her throughout her life. Head accepted the Oscar for Sabrina, though the gowns were designed by Givenchy. She gambled that the unknown Frenchman would remain silent-and he did. Not that the impenetrable Head wasn't a talent in her own right. Her ability to stay within budget and placate divas-"I might have to dress her again"-was as legendary as her fashion virtuosity. Olivia de Havilland dubbed her "a marvel." Yet the twice-married designer was also insecure and aloof; keeping secrets kept her in the game. Few, save Chierichetti, ever penetrated her inner core. He paints an absorbing sketch of an ambitious woman whose career defined Hollywood's golden years. Fashion lovers will enjoy his homage, and his devotion to movie magic.
-from website

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Bob Hope Life In Comedy

Bob Hope: A Life in Comedy
by William Robert Faith

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From Bob Hope's early career as an upstart among professionals like Jack Benny and Milton Berle in the rollicking world of travelling comedians, to his blazing success as a radio, television and film star, this completely revised and updated version of William Faith's biography takes a straightforward, appreciative and funny look at Hope's life and times on the occasion of his 100th birthday. Filled with anecdotes, photographs and plenty of jokes, the book reveals the real Bob Hope from his boyhood in England and youth in Cleveland to his present status as a living legend - a full-blooded, authentic appraisal of the man and his humour, a comic institution who is also a brilliant businessman, manipulator of the media, and politically influential figure. And of course Hope is the man who brought laughter and cheer (and long-legged beauties) to GIs throughout the world. At a time when patriotic fervor has never been running higher it's worth recalling the singular tribute paid Hope by none other than John Steinbeck: "When the time for recognition of service to the nation in wartime comes to be considered, Bob Hope should be high on the list.... He gets laughter wherever he goes from men who need laughter."
-from website

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Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog
by Beat Presser (Editor), Herbert Achternbusch, Peter Berling

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Werner Herzog was born Werner H. Stipetic in Munich on September 5, 1942. He grew up in a remote mountain village in Bavaria and never saw any films, television, or telephones as a child. He started traveling on foot from the age of 14. He made his first phone call at the age of 17. During high school he worked the night shift as a welder in a steel factory to produce his first films and made his first one in 1961 at the age of 19. Since then he has produced, written, and directed more than 40 films--including Fitzcarraldo, Nosferatu, Cobra Verde, Even Dwarves Started Small, My Best Fiend, and Aguirre, the Wrath of God--published more than a dozen books of prose, and directed as many operas. This publication presents Herzog through essays by friends and colleagues like actress Claudia Cardinale, who starred in Fitzcarraldo, and German director Volker Schlöndorff, as well as through photographs by cinematographer Beat Presser, many of them never before published.
-from website

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Marylin Monroe Cover to Cover

Marilyn Monroe: Cover to Cover
by Clark Kidder

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Clark Kidder has done it yet once again. His magnificent Marilyn Monroe magazine collector guide " Cover To Cover " is lavishly illustrated with gorgeous Norma Jeane covers from around the world.
-from website

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Drive In DreamGirls

Drive-In Dream Girls: A Galaxy of B-Movie Starlets of the Sixties
by Tom Lisanti, Carole Wells

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During the 1960s, a bushel of B–movies were produced and aimed at the predominantly teenage drive-in movie audience. At first teens couldn’t get enough of the bikini-clad beauties dancing on the beach or being wooed by Elvis Presley, but by 1966 young audiences became more interested in the mini-skirted, go-go boot wearing, independent-minded gals of spy spoofs, hot rod movies and biker flicks. Profiled herein are fifty sexy, young actresses that teenage girls envied and teenage boys desired including Quinn O’Hara, Melody Patterson, Hilarie Thompson, Donna Loren, Pat Priest, Meredith MacRae, Arlene Martel, Cynthia Pepper, and Beverly Washburn. Some like Sue Ane Langdon, Juliet Prowse, Marlyn Mason, and Carole Wells, appeared in major studio productions while others, such as Regina Carrol, Susan Hart, Angelique Pettyjohn and Suzie Kaye were relegated to drive-in movies only. Each biography contains a complete filmography. Some also include the actresses’ candid comments and anecdotes about their films, the people they worked with, and their feelings about acting. A list of web sites that provide further information is also included.
-from website

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Finding My Balance

Finding My Balance: A Memoir
by Mariel Hemingway

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Her grandfather and sister both committed suicide; at times, her parents "seemed not to care enough to parent" her; she was struck with movie star fame at an early age; and she's wrestled with eating disorders and control issues throughout her life. Now 40, Mariel Hemingway says these struggles have shaped who she is today, and presents this memoir as a testament to her own triumph over what some people see as "the curse of the Hemingway family." Hemingway now owns a yoga studio in Sun Valley, Idaho; each chapter of her memoir opens with a description of a yoga pose, segueing into a metaphor for how that pose represents some aspect of her life. So, for example, in the chapter entitled "Mountain Pose," Hemingway writes, "As I reflect on Mountain pose and understand the implications of its name, I can begin to understand my great need for stability and groundness." The youngest of three girls, Hemingway was a tomboy, spending much time alone outdoors. She got her acting start in Lipstick (1976), at age 13, and went on to star in Woody Allen's Manhattan (which featured the "traumatic" scene in which she and Woody made out) and a handful of other films. What makes her book so endearing is her ability to evaluate the actions she's taken over the course of her life-including her decision to have breast implants, her bizarre eating habits and her obsessive need to be in complete control of her life-and still find stability and peacefulness. Her simple writing lets the funny, honest woman shine through.
-from website

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