cover image Schickel on Film: Encounters--Critical and Personal--With Movie Immortals

Schickel on Film: Encounters--Critical and Personal--With Movie Immortals

Richard Schickel. William Morrow & Company, $20.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-688-05001-6

Eloquently placing his subjects in the larger context of social history, Time movie reviewer and inveterate observer of pop culture Schickel here assembles critical profiles of 13 Hollywood actors and directors. Essays on Chaplin, Ford and Hitchcock, though erudite and persuasive, add little to the continuing debate over their artistic vision. Of the legendary actors scrutinized--women are absent--the faded reputations of Fairbanks and Lloyd are justly revised upward; Cooper and Brando emerge as ironic embodiments of the American values of their times; and sympathetic probes behind the ``tough guy'' mystiques of Cagney and Bogart reveal the sadness pervading their private lives. Assessments of the careers and popular appeal of Sturges, Kubrick and Ronald Reagan are indispensable. Equally thought-provoking is the level-headed, controversially middle-of-the-road interpretation of the tragic myth of the Hollywood Ten of Cold War politics. At best, these portraits approximate the ``grace of expression'' and ``thoughtful enthusiasm'' that Schickel admires in the writings of James Agee, though his unabashedly effusive appreciation of Woody Allen betrays his usually objective tone. Photos not seen by PW. (Apr.)