In 1975, David Thomson published his Biographical Dictionary of Film, and few film books have enjoyed better press or such steady sales.
Now, thirty-three years later, we have the companion volume, a second book of more than 1,000 pages in one voice—that of our most provocative contemporary film critic and historian.
Juxtaposing the fanciful and the fabulous, the old favorites and the forgotten, this sweeping collection presents the films that Thomson offers in response to the question he gets asked most often—“What should I see?” This new book is a generous history of film and an enticing critical appraisal written with as much humor and passion as historical knowledge. Not content to choose his own top films (though they are here), Thomson has created a list that will surprise and delight you—and send you to your best movie rental service.
But he also probes the question: after one hundred years of film, which ones are the best, and why?
“Have You Seen . . . ?” suggests a true canon of cinema and one that’s almost completely accessible now, thanks to DVDs. This book is a must for anyone who loves the silver screen: the perfect confection to dip into at any point for a taste of controversy, little-known facts, and ideas about what to see. This is a volume you’ll want to return to again and again, like a dear but argumentative friend in the dark at the movies.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: "Have You Seen . . . ?"|
|Release Date: 10-14-2008|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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"Have You Seen . . . ?"
Tell me the story again, please.
Very well, there was this detective in
Los Angeles, Jake Gittes, as honest as
he could be after years with the LAPD. But
he had had trouble in Chinatown and so
retired into independent operation. Then he
was set up, and you have to realize that he
was sought out in just the way that Scottie was
in Vertigo. Someone picked him to receive
the story that Hollis Mulwray was having an
affair. Trace it back and you'll see it was all a
cruel design. Jake Gittes did his best, but he
was as much damage as he was good, because
he fell in love on the job with a woman who
was such trouble it smelled like gangrene.
And so, finally, the bad man, Noah Cross, was
left in charge, and they led Jake away to some
hiding hole and they whispered in his ear that
it was all “Chinatown.” I really don't see why
you love the story so much.
It was a story that Robert Towne, an Angeleno,
dreamed up for his pal Jack Nicholson
to play. And another friend, Robert Evans,
would produce it at Paramount. But Evans
thought that Roman Polanski should direct,
and Polanski battled with Towne over the
script-it had to be clearer and tougher.
Towne had had a gentler ending, with less
death. But Polanski knew it was a story that
had to end terribly-so no one forgot. The
director won, and the picture worked with its
very bleak ending.
What's more, the picture worked in every
way you could think of. Faye Dunaway was
the woman, and she was lovely but flawed and
incapable of being trusted. John Huston was
Noah Cross, and the more you see the film,