In this richly detailed study, James Naremore focuses on the work of film acting, showing what players contribute to movies. Ranging from the earliest short subjects of Charles Chaplin to the contemporary features of Robert DeNiro, he develops a useful means of analyzing performance in the age of mechanical reproduction; at the same time, he reveals the ideological implications behind various approaches to acting, and suggests ways that behavior on the screen can be linked to the presentation of self in society. Naremore's discussion of such figures as Lillian Gish, Marlene Dietrich, James Cagney, and Cary Grant will interest the specialist and the general reader alike, helping to establish standards and methods for future writing about performers and their craft.
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(229mm x 152mm x 25mm)
University of California Press
Publisher: University of California Press
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US Kirkus Review »
A text on movie acting, to be read with handy VCR and cassettes stacked at your side, by the author of The Magic World of Orson Welles (1978). Naremore has many enjoyable passages in what in the end amounts to a laborious read. He begins with a history of the rhetoric of acting and how the earliest filmmakers attempted to break away from staginess and the proscenium. What happened is that acting in movies became a "parading of expertise" - an obvious "mastery, skill, or inventiveness that is implied in the normative use of the word performance." What he strives for, in opening up certain famous performances, is "an indirect commentary on the social and psychological foundations of identity" - a commentary about which many readers may say, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." Meanwhile, they will enjoy his rich anatomizations of Lillian Gish's expertise in True Heart Susie, Charlie Chaplin's in The Gold Rush, Marlene Dietrich's in Morocco, James Cagney's in Angels with Dirty Faces, Katharine Hepburn's in Holiday, James Stewart's in Rear Window, Marlon Brando's in On the Waterfront, and Cary Grant's in North by Northwest, all of them marvelously alive under Naremore's psychoscope, which picks up practically cellular impressions of the actors' motives. Quite admirable detail - particularly about how Brando cleverly and sexily handles grieving Eva Marie Saint's glove in the playground scene, or even about Grant's bluish-gray socks as the airplane chases him in the crop-dusting sequence. Reading this is like waiting for a fastball that never comes, although the pitcher keeps you suckered by his reserve. Buy by all means - but be prepared. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - James Naremore
James Naremore is director of the film studies program at Indiana University.