Stay Connected with Chescolibraries

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Film Books of the 1960s: When Things Got Serious

Introducing the 1st edition of his seminal The Filmgoer’s Companion, Leslie Halliwell wrote,

“Thirty or forty years ago, when the idea of the cinema as an art was new, people started to write highbrow treatises about it.  Unfortunately, few of the books seemed to have much connection with what one saw at the local picture house.  Even earlier began the still-continuing deluge of fan magazines and annuals, full of exotic photographs but short on solid information.  We film-makers had our own reference books, but these were often incomprehensible to the layman and gave him more undigested facts than he needed.  Nobody wrote for the sensible middlebrow picturegoer who was keenly interested in the craft of cinema without wanting to make a religion of it.”

When Halliwell penned this in 1965, books about the movies had changed  dramatically.  The numbers had increased exponentially.  Whereas The Movies by Richard Griffith and Arthur Mayer (1957) and Agee on Film (1958) might be found in a city bookshop.  Very few bookstores existed in small towns and the new suburbs at mid-century.  Sometimes paperbacks on rotating racks in hardware stores might have been the only source.  One of the film-related paperbacks of the era and a good overview of the art of the cinema was Arthur Knight’s The Liveliest Art:  A Panoramic History of the Movies (1957).  That same year Daniel Blum edited the first Pictorial History of the Talkies, a fully illustrated, year by year survey with a short introduction describing trends and important films.

But the decade of the 1960s was coming up fast and the postwar generation was coming of age.  It might seem curious or even ridiculous to say that this generation invented film as art, but it was a public many of whose members recognized that movies were not merely entertainment but could be mined for hidden meanings, for what we now call subtext.  Subtext and hidden meanings were rarely identified by Bosley Crowther (d. 1981), the “dean” of film reviewers at The New York Times.

A book Halliwell might have considered too erudite for the average moviegoer was Hollywood:  The Dream Factory by Hortense Powdermaker (1950).  It was an anthropologist’s take on tinseltown.  Despite  it’s scholarly nature, because it existed it Bogieneeded to be acquired by the boomer even if he or she never read it cover to cover.

Nineteen-fifty-seven was a key year for books that wouldn’t be published until 1965.  Humphrey Bogart died on January 14 and over the next half dozen years his legacy grew.  Baby boomers gravitated to the world-weary but noble souls Bogart often portrayed, and in ’65 the books started coming:   Bogart by Richard Gehman, Humphrey Bogart:  The Man and His Films by Paul Michael, and Clifford McCarty’s Bogey:  The Films of Humphrey Bogart.  The last-named was one of Citadel Press’s early endeavors and would be followed by a plethora of “Films of” productions—richly designed, fully illustrated, fact-filled, and including synopses, contemporary reviews and analysis of the star’s movies.  In 1966 came Bogie:  The Biography of Humphrey Bogart by Joe Hyams, with an introduction by Bogart’s widow, Lauren Bacall.  As late as 1973 they were still at it.  Humphrey Bogart by Alan G. Barbour was part of the Pyramid History of the Movies series.

Annual screen surveys had been around for some time. In Britain, where there was much excellent writing on film, Picturegoer Film Annual and Picture Show Annual continued until 1960 and 1961, respectively.  An annual round-up of British, American FilmReviewand international films that kept on coming through the 60s was Film Review, edited by F. Maurice Speed.  With a color cover and many full-page color shots of stars and scenes from movies plus plot synopses, it was a much sought-after item.

          The U.S. version was Daniel Blum’s Screen World, first published in 1949, but growing longer every year as the boomers bought every film book that appeared—and for a while this was possible.  Screen World was full of facts and black and white photos.  Most major films received a page, some, like Doctor Zhivago and Midnight Cowboy, two or three.  Like Film Review, there were substantive obituaries for those film folk who’d passed away the prior year.  Unlike Film Review, there were no synopses, color photos, “Star of the Year” (Dirk Bogarde in FR, 1962-1963), “The Year in the Cinema,” or  “Star of the Past.”

Book-wise, star biographies became part of the menu and included Jean Garceau ScreenWorld67and Inez Cocke’s Dear Mr. G—The Biography of Clark Gable (died 1960; book published 1961).  Clark Gable was a 1961 paperback by George Carpozi Jr. that contained two photo inserts.  Gable’s  high octane co-star in The Misfits (released 1961) was Marilyn Monroe, who died in 1962.  Her Films of… book by Michael Conway and Mark Ricci from Citadel Press was published in 1964.

Television had become instrumental in creating big-screen fans.  Not only did UHF and VHF stations slot movies in the afternoon—even seminal foreign films such as Jules and Jim and the great British comedies starring the likes of Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers, Terry-Thomas, and Ian Carmichael—but the major networks bought up studio libraries after Saturday Night at the Movies succeeded beyond expectations in 1961.  The documentary Hollywood and the Stars, narrated by Joseph Cotten, ran from 1963 to 1964 and touched on particular actors and actresses, a genre, or the making of a forthcoming film.  Elmer Bernstein’s tear-jerking theme remains the ultimate tribute to an era.  Said Bernstein in 1992 for the liner notes of the CD Elmer Bernstein by Elmer Bernstein, “Hollywood and the Stars was one of a series of documentaries made in the 1960s about what was considered, even then, a bygone, Golden Age.  I tried to express, in the main theme, a feeling of nostalgia for all the lost glamour and romance.”

Another of those documentaries was Hollywood:  The Golden Years, a Gene Kelly-hosted 1961 tribute to the silent era, and in 1963 Henry Fonda narrated Hollywood and the Stars:  The Great Stars, again using Bernstein’s theme.

The books continued to come.  The Stars by Richard Schickel (1962) was a coffee table delight despite the omission beyond their names of, for instance, Rosalind Russell, Susan Hayward, Jean Arthur, and Joel McCrea.  Shickel’s categories were often entertaining, e.g., “The Somnambulists” were Alan Ladd and Kim Novak.

Nineteen-sixty-three was the year of Cleopatra, the astoundingly expensive epic with a lurid backstory involving the romance of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, both married to other folks.  My Life with Cleopatra was penned by the film’s producer Walter Wanger with assistance by Joe Hyams (1963).  The movie’s publicists Jack Brodsky and Nathan Weiss gave us The Cleopatra Papers that same year.

The Films of Greta Garbo was another 1963 publication.  Although her last movie had been Two-Faced Woman (1941), the ultra reclusive star and New York City resident continued to spur the imagination.  There were double feature retrospectives like Mata Hari and NinotchkaGreta Garbo was a 1965 paperback by Raymond Durgnat and John Kobal, the latter a source of photos for so many cinema books.

Jean Harlow, the original platinum blonde bombshell, died of uremic poisoning at age 26 in 1937, but like Bogart her legend grew and flourished in the 1960s, spurred in part by Irving Shulman’s Harlow:  An Intimate Biography (1964).  That spawned not one but two feature films in 1965, Harlow with method actress Carroll Baker, and Harlow with ingenue Carol Lynley.  (Neither was good.)  Citadel Press commissioned Michael Conway  The Films of Jean Harlow in 1965.

Authors also cashed in on then popular stars, including Doris Day: The Dramatic Story of America’s Number One Box Office Star by Tedd Thomey (1962) and Julie Andrews:  The Unauthorized Life Story of a Super-Star (1968) by John Cottrell. 

Film censorship was addressed in Murray Schumach’s The Face on the Cutting Room Floor:  The Story of Movie and Television Censorship (1964).  The times they were a changin’ and in 1968 a new and more liberal motion picture code would be introduced, making Schumach’s tome of historical importance but no longer au courant.

Progressive?  Radical?  Irritating?  In 1965 increasingly famous film critic Pauline Kael offered up I Lost It at the Movies, a collection of her often acerbic film reviews.

In the early 60s the Marx Bros., whose anti-social antics were gobbled up by the public in the 1930s in such movies as Duck Soup, Horse Feathers and A Day at the Races, were rediscovered.  They joined Bogart and Harlow as subjects to be studied and admired.  Allen Eyles’ The Marx Brothers:  Their World of Comedy (1966) was an early take on the quartet, and The Marx Brothers at the Movies appeared in 1968.  In 1970 Minnie’s Boys was a Broadway musical based on the Bros.’ youth and their mother’s influence.

The musical genre received coffee-table treatment in 1966 with John Springer’s All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing! A Pictorial History of the Movie Musical.  One of the surprising revelations was that only Bing Crosby introduced more hit songs than that terpsichorean master, Fred Astaire.

In The Musical Film (1967), Douglas McVay was harsh on many movies the general public liked or loved, but there were revelations, such as that Gigi (1958) had scant dancing.  When you think about it, this is true unless Leslie Caron cavorting around the dining room singing “The Night They Invented Champagne” counts.  Louis Jourdan merely walks around while talk-singing.  Couples swishing around a nightclub doesn’t make the grade.

          Film: An Anthology, the 1959 tome edited by Daniel Talbot, was reissued in 1966.  It included such significant articles as Robert Warshow’s “The Westerner,” “Comedy’s Greatest Era” by James Agee, “S-e-x” by Gilbert Seldes, and “Enter, the Movies” by Ben Hecht.

In 1967 appeared Carlos Clarens’s An Illustrated History of the Horror Films.  With a Monsterscover photo of the Satanic beast from Night of the Demon, aka Curse of the Demon (1957), this was purchased upon sight by a generation weaned on TV’s Shock Theater (1957) with its library of such 1930s Universal Studios classic horror films as Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Werewolf of London, The Black Cat, and The Invisible Man as well as the ultra influential magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland (1958).  Sadly for many, the Clarens survey was full of severe criticisms of movies they liked.  Nevertheless, it had substance, which the little paperback Monsters, Maidens & Mayhem (1965) by Brad Steiger did not.  Its strength lay in the illustrations.

On the periodical front, the somewhat highbrow Films in Review from The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures not only analyzed the latest films but presented biographies of past stars.

Alfred Hitchcock, hosting TV’s Alfred Hitchcock Presents from 1955 to 1965, had widespread name recognition, and received in-depth analysis by Robin Wood in Hitchcock’s Films (1965).  Wood examined in highly intellectual fashion seven of the master’s movies.  The Films of Alfred Hitchcock (1965) by George Perry appeared in 1965.  That book was part of the Studio Vista Paperback series that would come to include New Cinema in Britain by Roger Manvell (1969).  As indicated earlier, the British could be Damescounted on for superior cinema analysis, and Ian and Elisabeth Cameron co-wrote The Heavies (Camerons, 1967) and Dames (1969).  One chuckles over their insightsFor instance, from Dames:

“Fashion hasn’t yet caught up with Linda Darnell, who was one of the essential stars of the ‘forties and is as undeservedly neglected as Gene Tierney.  Film history has served very ill these ladies who should be in the pantheon of stars alongside Bogart and such less deserving denizens as Greta Garbo and Bette Davis.  Neither Darnell nor Tierney was much involved with what was being appreciated at the time as the Art of Film.  Stars have benefited less than directors from the critical revaluation of the past few years.  A combination of the stolid bad taste of the (Paul) Rotha generation and the campness of its successors have led to some terrible injustices in the reputations of stars.  Arty ladies get preferential treatment—thus Louise Brooks is preferred to Clara Bow—and the great female grotesques (who had better not be listed here) are held in ludicrous high esteem.”

In 1969 came The Films of Cecil B. DeMille, like Hitchcock a director with widespread public name recognition.

Studio founders and bosses received attention in such biographies as The Story of Walt Disney (1966) by Diane Disney Miller and Pete Martin, and The Moguls by Norman WaltDisneyZierold (1969).  The latter covered Darryl Zanuck, Samuel Goldwyn, Harry Cohn, Carl Laemmle, Adolph Zukor, David O. Selznick, the brothers Warner, and William Fox.

In addition to directors, cinematographers, studio heads and composers, other behind-the-scenes personnel got biographies.  Paul Mantz, super accomplished aviator, was the subject of Don Dwiggins’s Hollywood Pilot:  The Biography HollywoodPilotof Paul Mantz (1967).  A veteran of many films, he had been killed during the making of the he-man James Stewart adventure The Flight of the Phoenix (1965).

Tarzan’s star never dimmed and he remained big in the 60s.  Edgar Rice Burroughs’ famed ape-man, who had ruled the cinematic jungle ever since the silent era, gained new adolescent adherents with the paperback reprints by Ace and Ballantine Books.  On the film book scene, Gabe Essoe’s 1968 Tarzan of the Movies was a must purchase.

Perhaps the most important book of the decade was Kevin Brownlow’s The Parade’s Gone By (1968).  This examination of the silent era became the standard for the general public as well as the film scholar.

          Novels Into Film by George Bluestone (1968) analyzed famous fiction that had been filmed to mostly excellent effect:  The Informer, Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, The Grapes of Wrath, The Ox-Bow Incident, and Madame Bovary.

          Hollywood and the Academy Awards by Nathalie Fredrik was an illustrated run-down of the Academy Awards through 1969 and a book that can profitably be consulted today.  It included a page for each Best Picture, Actor and Actress, a half-page for supporting award winners, introduction to each decade, nominees, and winners in eachTVMovieKey and every category.

For years there were annual paperback mini-reviews of thousands of films telecast on the small screen, most famously perhaps but now kaput the Leonard Maltin et al. TV Movies, later Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide.  Predating Maltin and much beloved by boomers was Steven Scheuer’s Movies on TV, published from 1958 until 1993.

The film book publishing trend ran into the 1970s and of course continues today, but like Leonard Bernstein’s Hollywood and the Stars theme music, that first rush of movie books was a super exciting event, especially for those of the postwar generation who had recognized the art of the cinema.


By Kim

Staff Picks May 2020

STAFF Picks (1)

There are plenty of ways to enjoy a good book, even if you can’t browse the shelves—this month’s staff picks are all available on the Libby app.  With Libby you can read or listen to a huge selection of books from any mobile device, without ever needing to leave your home. For more information on Libby, click here.


Emily’s Picks

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Grown-up fans of Harry Potter will love this tale of English magic set in an alternate strangeRegency era. Featuring captivating characters and a meticulously researched and carefully-built world, this Hugo-winning debut novel will have you turning page after page, unable to put it down. At the height of England’s war against Napoleonic France, when magic seems to be merely a topic of study and theory but never of practice, to practicing magicians of very different temperaments—Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell—emerge and, through their initial partnership and eventual rivalry, change the course of history forever.

Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett

Although it’s the 14th book in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, there’s no need to read the first 13 books to enjoy this hilarious tale of magic and mischief (although you could if lordsyou wanted to!). Lords and Ladies is set in the small, sleepy Kingdom of Lancre, a kingdom run by a king who was once a court jester and protected by three witches: Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick. When it seems that the elves are returning to Lancre, the kingdom’s young people are confused as to what all the fuss is about—after all, elves are supposed to be nice. But the witches know better. Elves aren’t nice, elves are bad, and it’s up to the witches to stop them before they ruin the King’s wedding and possibly much more. Loaded with Pratchett’s trademark whimsical wit, colorful characters, and a few winks and nods to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this is a must-read for fantasy lovers.


Jessie’s Picks

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

Looking for a book that will transport you out of this reality? Then give Gail Carriger’s etiquetteFinishing School series a try! Set in an alternate Victorian England, this humorous steampunk series follows Sophronia through her many adventures at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. Moira Quirk does a great job of narrating this Young Adult series.

A Death of No Importance by Mariah Fredericks death

This mystery series starter is set in New York City circa 1910. Jane Prescott is a ladies’ maid to the daughters of the wealthy Benchley family. Jane becomes involved in a complex mystery when Charlotte Benchley’s fiancée is murdered. Jane discovers that her position allows her to learn important details. This mystery series is a good choice for fans of Laurie R. King and Anne Perry.


John’s Picks

A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin

Fans of HBO’s A Game of Thrones will certainly enjoy George Martin’s A Song of Ice and stormFire series, but the third book of this epic fantasy is particularly exciting. So many of the television series’ most pivotal moments unfold within these 1000+ pages, but there are plenty of nuances to make the 48-hour-long audiobook exciting for all. Listen along as giants roam north of the Wall, four kings wage a devastating war across the Seven Kingdoms, and dragons fly high above the continent of Essos.

The Great Courses: Foundations of Western Civilization great

Thomas F. X. Noble is Professor Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame. This offering by the Great Courses invites you into the award-winning historian’s classroom for 48 unique lectures on topics ranging from the earliest civilizations in Mesopotamia to the cusp of the modern world around 1600. Noble has published dozens of scholarly books and articles on the history of Western civilization, and he shares his research and expertise in this incredibly insightful audiobook.


Kim’s Picks

Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years by Julie Andrews

Picking up where Home: A Memoir of My Early Years (2009) left off, stage and screen icon homeworkAndrews begins with a summary of her young life that included bizarre family secrets, performance in vaudeville, and the epic stage successes My Fair Lady and Camelot. Home Work continues with her introduction to major films courtesy of Walt Disney. She is candid about everything, including her amicable divorce from esteemed production designer Tony Walton and marriage to the equally famous and hypochondriac Blake Edwards (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Pink Panther, and Victor, Victoria). She praises Disney, James Garner, Dick Van Dyke, Carol Burnett, Robert Preston, and many others who helped her and became life-long pals. Like Home, Home Work is everything you’d want in a star biography. There is much to amuse the reader, e.g., being smashed to the stage when the wires helping her fly in Mary Poppins (1964) snapped, and in The Sound of Music (1965) when the lights installed in the gazebo made horrible sounds each time she and co-star Christopher Plummer looked deeply into each other’s eyes. Breaking into uncontrollable laughter, the forced director Robert Wise to give and shoot them in silhouette which of course worked wonderfully well.

Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis

This famous 1922 novel by the Nobel-prize winning author of Main Street, Arrowsmith, babbitt Dodsworth, and Elmer Gantry describes the culture of the fictional Zenith, a growing midwestern metropolis with streetcars, automobiles, banks, caterers, clubs and more clubs, theaters, tall buildings, and humming factories—ultimate examples of American progress. The focus is on middle-aged George Babbitt and his household. Despite his success in real estate and pride at belonging to a coterie of men on the make (he’s a realtor, not a real estate man, thank you very much), he does experience episodes causing him to question his life choices. Yet conformity is impossible to buck. “Babbitt” became a synonym for those hustling for material gain to the detriment of a fully realized, ethical, and honest society.


Mary’s Picks

Becoming by Michelle Obama

becomingAn inspirational autobiography showing that anything can be accomplished with hard work and perseverance. This audiobook is read by the author which makes it that much more enjoyable. She tells her extraordinary story in a very down-to-earth way that everyone can connect with. Warm, thoughtful, educational, and inspiring.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame wind

This is my all-time favorite childhood book. Beautifully written and enjoyable for both children and adults. The descriptions are so rich that you feel you are right there in the story with the most beloved characters. A true classic and feel-good book that everyone should read.


Stephanie’s Picks

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

lethalIn the fourth volume of the Cormoran Strike series, Galbraith interweaves a complex plot involving murder, politics, and blackmail. It’s filled with captivating dialogue with wonderfully flawed characters. The first few chapters are a little slow going, but if you put your faith in the gruff narration from Robert Glenister, he will lead you through a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (narrated by Anthony Bourdain)

I was extremely hesitant to read this book, as I always thought of kitchenBourdain as an arrogant, unpleasant man, who had no problem voicing his opinion of those he deemed beneath him. However, a good friend assured me I would really like this book. He was right! In this unexpectedly humorous memoir, Bourdain tells his story with a quick wit that is as offensive as it is poignant. His passion for food comes through unboundedly, and I appreciate his fierce advocacy for under-appreciated chefs, specifically those in the Latino community. His disdain for vegetarians aside, I found this book very enjoyable.

Hugh Marlowe’s Golden Age

Like even the biggest stars, supporting actors often had a golden age, and for Hugh Marlowe 1949-1956 was that epoch.

Marlowe was born Hugh Herbert Hipple in Philadelphia in 1911.  He went west in the 1930s and began performing in the increasingly esteemed Pasadena Playhouse.  His film debut was in Brilliant Marriage (1936).  In 1944 he had a small part in the classic MGM musical, Meet Me in St. Louis, before moving to 20th Century-Fox for a bigger role in another quality film, Come to the Stable (1949) with Loretta Young and Celeste Holm.  Fox became Marlowe’s “home studio” for the ensuing decade.  Also in ’49, Marlowe achieved second billing behind Gregory Peck in the sterling World War II saga, Twelve O’Clock High, which received Best Picture and Actor (Peck) nominations.  (Dean Jagger won the Best Supporting Actor award.) This was one of those rather perfect mid-century movies, as was Marlowe’s next.  Night and the City (1950) is considered a 4-star noir starring Richard Widmark.  This impressive stretch continued with All About Eve, the justly famous Bette Davis Academy Award-winning film.  

The Day the Earth Stood Still

In 1951 Marlowe almost put the kibosh on Klaatu (Michael Rennie in The Day the Earth Stood Still), sent from his planet to warn earth to cease and desist squabbling and fighting lest it be turned into “a burned out cinder,” probably by Klaatu’s loyal servant/galactic policeman, Gort the robot.  As Patricia Neal’s intended, and hopeful of impressing her by revealing to the authorities that her boarder Mr. Carpenter is none other than the visitor from space, Marlowe ruined his chances via this schmucky decision.

That same year Marlowe was out of character in a western, or was he?  For his role as the one-time gentleman become outlaw gang leader in Rawhide, Brian Garfield observed in Western Movies:  A Complete Guide that “Most of all, however, it is Hugh Marlowe’s electrifying performance that makes it top-drawer.”

In 1952 Marlowe narrated Diplomatic Courier, a decent if action-starved Cold War adventure starring Tyrone Power.  Also that year was Howard Hawks’ Monkey Business, full of monkey shines or rather ape shines as a chimp mixes up an elixir that consumed at the water cooler caused Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers to revert to the ways of unbridled childhood.  (It is curious that this and another Fox film, 1949’s It Happens Every Spring, have similar plot devices:  the accidental creation of weird substances.  In Spring it is methylethylpropylbutyl, which repels wood.  This must be attributable to the postwar fascination with scientists and their seemingly magical research and inventions.)  In Monkey Business Marlowe is on the outs again, losing Rogers to Grant, naturally.  

garden of evilIn the now highly-regarded 1954 western Garden of Evil, Marlowe’s John Fuller was the catalyst for his wife Leah (Susan Hayward) to ride pell mell from the Mexican interior to the coast, hoping to enlist someone to help her rescue him from a mine cave-in.  She finds Gary Cooper, Richard Widmark, Cameron Mitchell and Victor Manuel Mendoza, all eager to do the deed and share in some gold. Using brute strength, the men extract Fuller from the mine. He’s not so sanguine, however, telling them it’s the time of the “White Man’s Moon.”  The Indians—never seen closeup and thus supremely frightening—won’t let anyone leave. They’d only left him unscathed because they couldn’t think of a worse fate. Marlowe spent 90% of the movie flat on his back, then was shoved up onto a horse, and later was found spread-eagled upside down on a cross with an arrow in him.  According to the Garden of Evil pressbook, this position increased his blood pressure and aggravated latent sinus problems because of the altitude.

Marlowe had three films released in 1956.  In each he was the lead. On numerous occasions the second-rank studio Allied Artists churned out low-budget but special, sometimes cutting-edge movies.  Think The Big Combo, Riot in Cell Block 11, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Hell to Eternity.  Not quite up to those standards but interesting nonetheless was World Without End.  With higher production values that some other grade B science fiction films of that era plus outdoor location shooting, it gave Marlowe the role of a scientist on a spaceship accidentally venturing into the future after circling Mars and heading home.  Earth vs. the Flying Saucers is chiefly notable for Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion special effects.  Marlowe was back in a western in The Black Whip.  Again he elicited Garfield’s praise:  “and Hugh Marlowe always commands attention—he is an excellent actor ill-used by Hollywood, whose commanding voice and rugged good looks might well have been employed to far greater advantage than in the second-rate movies he usually appeared in.”

birdman of alcatrazIn the 1960s Marlowe made appearances in a number of prestigious films, including Elmer Gantry (1960), Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), and Seven Days in May (1964).  (Is there any significance that all three starred Burt Lancaster?)  From 1969 to 1982 he was a family patriarch on the TV soap opera, Another World.  Hugh Marlowe died in 1982 at the age of 71.  His son Chris Marlowe became an Olympic volleyball champion and remains a notable TV sportscaster.  He’d also acted on TV and in a few movies.

By Kim


Garden of Evil pressbook  1954.

Brian Garfield.  Western Films: A Complete Guide.  1982. 

The League of Alternate Superstars: Jean Peters

“They’re going to make me a glamour girl.  I, I know all this started as a gag, but after the way things went tonight I can get to the top—and fast!”

Jean Peters as Vicki (20th Century-Fox, 1953)


Jean Peters (1926-2000) could be a sexpot or the girl next door.  Her character’s ebullience demonstrated above was her real-life story.  For being crowned Miss Ohio jean petersState in 1945 she won a screen test.  Talk about getting to the top fast, the test resulted in a contract with 20th Century-Fox, and in her first film, Captain from Castille, she was the leading lady opposite matinee idol Tyrone Power.

Peters made 19 films at Fox, some of them very successful, a few prestigious, like Viva Zapata! (1951), directed by Elia Kazan and starring Marlon Brando as the Mexican revolutionary.  Peters played his wife.  That same year she co-starred with one of Fox’s biggest female stars, Jeanne Crain, in Take Care of My Little Girl, an expose of sorority shenanigans.  (Was she familiar with them from her days at Ohio State?)  It wasn’t much but Peters and Crain apparently became good friends, and in 1952 they were part of the ensemble in O. Henry’s Full House.  Curiously, Crain, the ultimate postwar girl-next-door in her early Fox days (Home in Indiana, Margie)—who’d also been a beauty contest winner—was angling for glamour-puss parts while Peters wrangled with studio executives over the movies to which they assigned her.  Peters wanted less flashy roles.

In 1953’s Niagara the glamour girl was Marilyn Monroe, Peters the housewife who senses all is not kosher with the couple in the next cabin (Monroe and Joseph Cotten) and finds herself mixed up in a murder.  It was in Technicolor, noirish, Monroe’s first true starring role, and a big hit.  (Oddly, it was in Technicolor but not CinemaScope in that first year of that big screen process.  The Falls would seem tailor made for “Scope.”)

Also in 1953 was the film for which Peters may be most remembered by critics and cinema aficionados, Pickup on South Street (1953).  She played Candy, a street-smart dame taken advantage of by clandestine communists and small-time pickpocket Skip pickup on south streetMCoy (Richard Widmark).  Microfilm containing government secrets kept switching hands.  Director Samuel Fuller wanted Peters but had to fight studio head Darryl Zanuck to get and keep her because Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable both wanted to be Candy.  Knowing she wasn’t the first choice, Peters met with Fuller and impressed him:  “I loved her spunkiness.  We chatted for a long time about a wide range of subjects, from literature to politics.  I found myself talking with a very intelligent woman, a fine human being.”  Further, “She was a pleasure to work with, exquisite and dedicated, a true professional.”

Another “Scope” movie, Three Coins in the Fountain (1954), was appropriately filmed in Rome and became the 10th biggest grosser of 1954 and a Best Picture Academy Award nominee.  Again, Peters shared the screen, this time with Dorothy McGuire and Maggie McNamara.

In Apache (1954) Peters was the intended bride of Massai (Burt Lancaster).  The movie was a sympathetic portrait of a “renegade” native American unwilling to be deported to a reservation.

Broken Lance (1954) was a well-regarded western version of the studio’s House of broken lanceStrangers (1949), this time with Spencer Tracy as paterfamilias dealing with one favored son (Robert Wagner) by his second marriage and three offspring (Richard Widmark, Hugh O’Brian, Earl Holliman) from his first at odds with their imperious father.  Peters was Wagner’s love interest.

A Man Called Peter (1955) featured Peters as the wife of Peter Marshall, Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, played by Richard Todd.  It was a hit and her last feature film.  In 1957 Peters quit the studio and wed billionaire Howard Hughes.  That union lasted until 1971.  (Side note:  If actress Terry Moore is correct, sometime in the 50s she was married to Hughes aboard his yacht with the captain performing the ceremony.  She didn’t have good records but after Hughes died in 1976 she applied for remuneration and received an undisclosed but apparently large amount.)

Peters’ retirement from the big screen was a loss for moviegoers who missed her spunk and her superb profile.



Fuller, Samuel; Fuller, Christa Lang; and Rudes, Jerome Henry.  A Third Face:  My Tale of Writing, Fighting, and Filmmaking.  2002.


By Kim

Staff Picks March 2020

STAFF Picks (1)

Emily’s Picks

Movie: Knives Out

My favorite movie of 2019. A witty, modern, timely, and hilarious whodunnit with an knives outincredible cast and a fantastic script. It will keep you guessing until the very end, and once it’s over you’ll want to come right back for more!

CD: Hozier by Hozier

This album put Hozier on the map with the hit Take Me to Churchhozier—it’s dark, almost gothic sensibilities along with Hozier’s powerful voice made the song like nothing else on the radio at the time. The rest of the album is just as great as that first hit. Even the tracks that do not have that same dark punch as Take Me to Church (like From Eden and Jackie and Wilson) are still musically and lyrically interesting, and seem to be full of the artist’s soul.

Jessie’s Picks

Movie: Hidden Figures

“As the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, NASA found untapped hidden figurestalent in a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson crossed all gender, race, and professional lines while their brilliance and desire to dream big, beyond anything ever accomplished before by the human race, firmly cemented them in U.S. history as true American heroes.”

Audiobook: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

“Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon. He has staunch principles, strict a man called overoutines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time? Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.”

John’s Picks

Movie: The Sandlot

sandlotHands down, my favorite baseball movie of all time! With the start of the baseball season quickly approaching, it’s a great time to check out this classic.

Audiobook: Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our founding mothersNation by Cokie Roberts

Cookie Roberts shows how some of our nation’s most significant events were influenced my often overlooked women.


Kim’s Picks

TV Series: New Amsterdam

new amsterdamCompelling characters inhabit this spot-on hospital drama irresistible once sampled.  It might be the most compelling medical show since St. Elsewhere (1982-1988).

Movie: Bill Cunningham New York

This 2012 documentary examines the professional life of a billy c nycunique New Yorker.  Bill Cunningham was a combination street and fashion photographer in New York and Paris.  Unobtrusive and private, he dedicated decades working for Women’s Wear Daily and The New York Times, creating weekly spreads filled with photos of, not as he revealed, the celebrities and wealthy, rather the clothes, hats and shoes they wore.  Cunningham died in 2016 at age 87.


Mary’s Picks

TV Series: Outlander

outlander 1“1945 England: Claire Randall reunites with her husband after five years of war. A second honeymoon goes awry when she falls back through time to 1740’s Scotland.”

Audiobook: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien the hibbit

There is no bigger fantasy than that of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. This prequel to The Lord of the Rings captures you with its first sentence – “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”


Stephanie’s Picks

Audiobook: Small Great Things by Jodi Piccoult

“Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than small great thingstwenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?” beast epic

CD: Beast Epic by Iron & Wine

After multiple albums of experimenting with new sounds, it seems that singer Sam Beam has gone back to his sweet melodic folk roots. This is his best album since Our Endless Numbered Days.


All quoted summaries from

New Releases

Charlie’s Angels
Uncut Gems
Spies in Disguise
Go Back to China
Little Joe
The Wolf Hour
Seven Worlds, One Planet
Time Thieves
All Your Dead Ones

TV Seriesmandymoore_silverlandings_main
Chesapeake Shores season 4
The Affair season 5

Disney Dreamin’ With Matthew Morrison by Matthew Morrison
Born 2 Rap by The Game
Circles by Mac Miller
Be Still Moses by Steep Canyon Rangers & Asheville Symphony
When Carolina Comes Home Again by Jim Lauderdale
Silver Landings by Mandy Moore
Your Life Is A Record by Brandy ClarkA Forgotten Murder
Alive & Breathing by Matt Maher

A Reasonable Doubt by Phillip Margolin
The Mirror & The Light by Hilary Mantel
Journey Of The Pharaohs by Clive Cussler & Graham Brown
A Forgotten Murder by Jude Deveraux

New Releases

MoviesDark Waters
Dark Waters
Queen & Slim
El Coyote
The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson
Waking the Sleeping Giant: The Making of a Political Revolution
Forever Faithful
By the Grace of God
Ne Zha

TV Series
Titans season 2

MusicRouch Guide to the roots of the Blues
F8 by Five Finger Death Punch
Suddenly by Caribou
Rough Guide To The Roots Of The Blues by various artists
That’s What I Heard by The Robert Cray Band
Wild Life by Justin Roberts
Color Theory by Soccer Mommy
Erys by Jaden

Deacon King Kong by James McBride
The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich
Long Range by C.J. Box

Recent Updates to Overdrive/Libby

OverDrive is always working to improve your digital library experience, which sometimes includes adding or changing features.

March 3, 2020

  • When a hold becomes available for you, you’ll now have the option to borrow it or have it delivered later. The “deliver later” option keeps you at the front of the wait list but passes that copy of the title to the next person in line. This feature gives you more control over your holds, so you can borrow and read titles when it’s most convenient for you.

  • The auto-checkout option for holds has been removed. Instead, all users can go to their Holds page to borrow available holds.
  • Your library’s digital collection now has a notification section to alert you about available holds.
    Note: You’ll still receive email notifications about your holds.


Roku Roundup: See What’s New for Streaming in March!

With March comes the promise of much milder weather, and a ton of brand-new, exclusive content from all your favorite streaming services! Fans of the Netflix drama Ozark, starring Jason Bateman and Laura Linney, will want to tune in on March 27th to self madecatch the premiere of season three. Or, if you are looking for a new show to stream, consider checking out Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C. J. Walker. The miniseries stars Academy Award-winner Octavia Spenser as the titular Madam Walker, the first-ever female self-made millionaire, and is making media buzz way ahead of its March 27th premiere. A number of original movies make their premieres this month as well, such as Spenser Confidential (a buddy cop action flick starring Mark Wahlberg) on the 6th and Lost Girls (based on Robert Kolker’s bestselling mystery) on the 13th.

Hulu is also making a splash this month with an adaptation of a beloved novel. On March 18th, Little Fires Everywhere, a miniseries based on Celeste Ng’s 2017 bestseller, will premiere. The series stars Reese Witherspoon as Elena Richardson, and Kerry Washington as Mia Warren, the enigmatic woman who turns her little fires hulupicture-perfect life upside down. If binge-watching is your game, get excited: the first three episodes of the series premiere all at once, so you can watch them back-to-back-to-back. And if documentaries and politics are up your street, you won’t want to miss the original docu-series Hillary (out March 6th), which takes a closer look the life and career of 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. Also out on the sixth is a brand-new episode of the Blumhouse horror series Into the Dark.

All these titles are exclusive to their streaming services, and can’t be seen anywhere else. But with Roku Express+ devices you can watch all the shows and movies Netflix and Hulu have to offer, as well as a huge selection of films on from our VUDU library. Reserve your Roku today and march into a whole new world of streaming!