Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood

Mark Harris, Author . Penguin Press $27.95 (490p) ISBN 978-1-59420-152-3

While one might think that the films discussed in this book have been thoroughly plumbed (The Graduate ; Bonnie and Clyde ; In the Heat of the Night ; Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? ), Entertainment Weekly writer Harris offers his take in this thorough and engaging narrative. Instead of simply retelling old war stories about the production of these five Best Picture nominees at the 1968 Oscars, Harris tells a much wider story. Hollywood was on the brink of obsolescence throughout the 1960s as it faced artistic competition from European art films and financial implosion due to an outdated production system and rising budgets. Harris doesn’t shy away from complexity in favor of easy answers, and the personalities that he profiles—among them Sidney Poitier, Mike Nichols, Warren Beatty and Richard Zanuck—are certainly worthy of the three dimensional approach. Harris also peppers his narrative with moments that capture the rising cultural tide that broke in the late ’60s: chipping away at the moralistic Production Code, and Hollywood’s inconsistent engagement with the Civil Rights movement are continuous sources of interest throughout this fascinating book. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 10/29/2007
Release date: 02/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
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