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Castaways of the Image Planet

Movies, Show Business, Public Spectacle

List Price: $16.95

June 11, 2013 | Paperback | 6 x 9, 256 Pages | ISBN 9781619021600
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"O'Brien's at his best in observations of what takes place on screen, disk, or page and how these actions define their practitioners. A smooth after-dinner drink." —Kirkus

One of our best cultural critics here collects sixteen years’ worth of essays on film and popular culture. Topics range from the invention of cinema to contemporary F-X aesthetics, from Shakespeare on film to Seinfeld, and we include essays on 30’s screwball comedies, Hong Kong Martial Arts movies, to the roots of spy movies and the televising of Clinton’s grand jury testimony.

O’Brien emphasizes the unpredictable interactions between film as a medium apt for expressing the most private dreams and film as the mass literature of the modern world. Several of the pieces are profiles of individual actors or directors—Orson Welles, Michael Powell, Ed Wood, Marlon Brando, Alfred Hitchcock, Dana Andrews, The Marx Brothers, Bing Crosby—whose careers are probed to look for the point where obsession meets public myth-making.

About Geoffrey O'Brien

GEOFFREY O’BRIEN is the editor in chief of the Library of America and a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books. His latest books are Early Autumn and The Fall of the House of Walworth. (September 2012). He is a widely published poet, critic, editor, and cultural historian and has been honored with a Whiting Award and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the New York Institute for the Humanities. He lives in New York City.

“This provocative collection of essays written over a 16-year period offers unique insight into personalities as varied as Alfred Hitchcock and Bing Crosby… He doesn’t pressure readers into adopting his point of view, but simply and tactfully makes his case through imagery, seducing readers into surrendering their prejudices and joining him on an enchanting ride.” —Publishers Weekly
“O’Brien’s perspective is consistently thoughtful and succinct, making for very engaging reading throughout.” —Library Journal
“In 28 essays reprinted from various periodicals and anthologies, poet, critic, and cultural historian O’Brien charts a series of encounters with movies and television he had over a period of 16 years, some new and some he was seeing again after many years.” —Booknews
“O’Brien’s at his best in observations of what takes place on screen, disk, or page and how these actions define their practitioners. A smooth after-dinner drink.” —Kirkus
“No one writes more thoughtfully, fair-mindedly and elegantly about film these days than Geoffrey O’Brien. In a lucid and understated manner, he keeps piling insight upon insight until you have to gasp at his overall brilliance, erudition, and mastery of the critical enterprise.” —Philip Lopate, American film critic and author of To Show and To Tell

“Dazzlingly well-informed, he brings an intense visual analysis to movies that have generally been witnessed more superficially…The book is a must-read for anyone interested in serious thinking about mass entertainment and the wider shores of cinema.” —Molly Haskell, American film critic and author of From Reverence to Rape

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