Cover image for The movies that changed us : reflections on the screen
The movies that changed us : reflections on the screen
Clooney, Nick, 1934-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Atria Books, [2002]

Physical Description:
x, 324 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1993.5.U6 C57 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PN1993.5.U6 C57 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PN1993.5.U6 C57 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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The revered film historian and former host of American Movie Classics cable channel explores how 20 films--fromBirth of a Nation to Saving Private Ryan--challenged and transformed perceptions about everything from religion and politics to youth, sexuality, and evolving notions about humanity. 19 photos.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

American Movie Classics pitchman Clooney's stab at determining which movies had influence beyond their entertainment value is full of idiosyncratic pronouncements, such as "following Dr. Strangelove, the lines of national debate were skewed perceptibly" and, of The Graduate, that it "did not kill romantic movies. But it did change things." Whether his remarks strike a chord or not, the book is a nice vehicle for revisiting some famous films and the world that first liked them. Clooney earns extra points for discussing a few silent films (Birth of a Nation, The Big Parade) and for inadvertently reminding readers of how maudlin timely hits like The Best Years of Our Lives and Marty are. Zollo's oral history strives to ferret out the inner workings of the movie capital by means of the stories and observations of such insiders as Gone with the Wind producer David O. Selznick. To that end, he proffers chapter-length reminiscences by the likes of Karl Malden, Jonathan Winters, and Steve Allen. Of special interest is the guide to stars' graves in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (formerly the Hollywood Memorial Cemetery) in the final chapter, "A Tour of Hollywood." Mel Blanc's and Hattie McDaniel's are among the gravesites mentioned, and potential tourists get such helpful hints as that Marion Davies rests under the monicker Marion Douras in her family mausoleum, and director and cult-favorite murder victim William Desmond Taylor's tombstone calls him William Desmond Deane-Tanner. Cecil B. DeMille, though larger than life even in death, is just Cecil B. DeMille. --Mike Tribby

Publisher's Weekly Review

Few things in Hollywood get the movie-going public more riled up than lists. The American Film Institute's ranking of the 100 greatest flicks, for instance, touched off a firestorm of protest when it was released. Now film historian and former American Movie Channel host Clooney joins the fray, with his roundup of 20 movies that changed American culture. They're not necessarily the best ones, he says, but they all sparked something in the country's social or political consciousness. On the list are some gimmes (Dr. Strangelove; The Graduate), some correct but unsavory picks (Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will) and some surprising exclusions (Saving Private Ryan gets in, but Apocalypse Now doesn't-come again?). With each selection, Clooney offers a brief plot summary, and then demonstrates how the movie altered America-or at the very least, Hollywood. Taxi Driver, for instance, inspired John Hinckley, Jr.'s assassination attempt, while Star Wars "changed the way we make movies." Clooney's arguments are convincing enough, but many of the entries share a lame coda: that the movie "changed things." It's particularly heartening to see him resuscitate old gems, though; films from the '30s (e.g., Boys Town and Morocco) take up a full quarter of the list. "[T]he story of film is far from over," Clooney notes, as if the noted movie buff can't wait to pen a sequel. Readers might quibble with his list, but then, that's half the fun. Agent, Joanna Pulcini. (Nov. 5) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In this extremely readable work, Clooney, former host of the cable channel American Movie Classics, examines one German and 19 U.S. films that "changed us," with content that was either on top or ahead of the curve. Thus, a great film like Citizen Kane does not make the cut, as it did not change society, but Boy's Town, The Birth of a Nation, and Taxi Driver do. Each of Clooney's short essays underscores why one particular film profoundly affected the viewing audience, for better or worse, whereas thousands of other merely "entertained." Some readers may question whether a film was really so influential, but Clooney is thought-provoking, and his occasional interviews with the original film personnel are alone worth the price. An interesting accompaniment to more scholarly studies of audience reaction, including Passionate Views, edited by Carl Plantigna and Greg M. Smith, and Janet Staiger's Perverse Spectators, this is highly recommended for all cultural studies collections.-Anthony J. Adam, Prairie View A&M Univ., TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.