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Explores the epic human drama behind the making of the five movies nominated for Best Picture in 1967-Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, Doctor Doolittle, and Bonnie and Clyde-and through them, the larger story of the cultural revolution that transformed Hollywood, and America, forever. Explores the epic human drama behind the making of the five movies nominated for Best Picture in 1967-Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, Doctor Doolittle, and Bonnie and Clyde-and through them, the larger story of the cultural revolution that transformed Hollywood, and America, forever.


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Explores the epic human drama behind the making of the five movies nominated for Best Picture in 1967-Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, Doctor Doolittle, and Bonnie and Clyde-and through them, the larger story of the cultural revolution that transformed Hollywood, and America, forever. Explores the epic human drama behind the making of the five movies nominated for Best Picture in 1967-Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, Doctor Doolittle, and Bonnie and Clyde-and through them, the larger story of the cultural revolution that transformed Hollywood, and America, forever.

30 review for Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    It’s one thing to get a brilliant idea for a book – I’m sure we’ve all had one or two – but it’s a whole other thing to transform your brilliant idea into an unceasingly gripping factcrammed anecdote-rammed endlessly entertaining 420 page book which everybody that has ever loved a movie will find gobsmacking, eye-opening and maybe the best book on movies they will ever read. The brilliant idea was that the five 1968 Oscar best picture nominees captured perfectly a moment of cultural shift, when O It’s one thing to get a brilliant idea for a book – I’m sure we’ve all had one or two – but it’s a whole other thing to transform your brilliant idea into an unceasingly gripping factcrammed anecdote-rammed endlessly entertaining 420 page book which everybody that has ever loved a movie will find gobsmacking, eye-opening and maybe the best book on movies they will ever read. The brilliant idea was that the five 1968 Oscar best picture nominees captured perfectly a moment of cultural shift, when Old Hollywood gave way to New Hollywood, when the oppressive morality imposed on movies since the 1930s was abandoned, when everything changed. The five movies were Dr Dolittle Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner In the Heat of the Night The Graduate Bonnie and Clyde At one extreme, representing the oldest of Old Hollywood, is Dr Dolittle. This was a bloated unloved failure created in the wake of the ridiculous success of The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins. Because of those two, the studios thought Ah! Giant two and a half hour musicals! That will save us! and they all rolled into production big ones like Thoroughly Modern Millie, Sweet Charity, Hello Dolly and so on. This craze became a waking nightmare because it turned out that Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music were the last big fat musicals anyone wanted to see for a very long time. At the other end of the spectrum was Bonnie and Clyde – you remember the tag line : “They’re young. They’re in love. And they kill people.” This was low level low budget scuffling and hustling movie making. The two scriptwriters had been fixated on getting one of their French heroes to direct – maybe Godard! Maybe Truffaut! But they finally found Warren Beatty and he got hooked. But he wasn’t then the big name he became, because it was Bonnie and Clyde that made him into what he became, so he was just a pretty boy with a spotty resume, no real big hits, (Time magazine : “an on-again off-again actor who moonlighted as a global escort”) so when he became the producer-star he still had to rush around and keep the plates spinning and fielding phone calls – and even when the damn picture was made the studio was so lukewarm about it they didn’t release it properly and he then had to run around like a clockwork mouse to prove that whenever it was shown audiences (young ones) loved it, so that finally the studio rereleased it and THEN it was a monster hit. In between these two extremes was Sidney Poitier – what a strange an uneasy story that is. This is what Sidney had been doing up to then. Mark Harris is describing his character in a movie called No Way Out: The character was a young professional surrounded by white bigots, a so-called credit to his race who achieved what white America was comfortable labelling “dignity” by at once demonstrating that he could feel anger and proving he was evolved enough to restrain himself from expressing it. One further comment : He had no competition, since in the 1950s the movie industry had room for exactly one black actor. We see from the list of 1968 best picture nominee that Sidney was the star of two of them. And he’d also had a monster hit in 1967 in To Sir with Love. So he was a very big star. Mark Harris : His drawing power was a shock to an industry that had, until recently, treated his employment in movies as something akin to an act of charity, and Hollywood greeted his new popularity with an orgy of self-congratulation. The burden on Sidney Poitier’ shoulders was immense. He was horribly aware that as Mark Harris puts it his career, his status was as an exception to the rule. This book describes in fabulous detail the beginnings, the assembling, the production, the reception and the ultimate fate of these five movies. The research Mark Harris did must have been something else. How each movie got made, how the shape of a movie changes, how the script is really just the right kind of clay that the director, actors and cinematographer then mould and remould sometimes on a day by day basis, and how even after the thing is done even the star of the said movie (say Dustin Hoffman) could be quite unaware of whether the picture is any good…. all this and more, much more is laid out before our feasting eyes. SOME HILARIOUS STUFF ABOUT DR DOLITTLE Mark Harris on Rex Harrison : Harrison could be explosive, impatient, capricious, and vain, but also charming, apologetic, and compliant, sometimes within the same conversation or at different points during the same stiff drink. Mark Harrison on some production difficulties : The smell, both of animal waste and the gallons of ammonia used to clean the sets, was unbearable, as was the nonstop noise. The shoot in St Lucia turned out to be even more of a horror than the crew had anticipated, and not just because of the swarms of stinging insects, or the tropical storms that seemed to shut down production every second day, or the fleas that lived in the sand that the Dolittle crew had found on a remote part of the island and trucked to the set by the ton because they liked its pinkish colour. Mark Harris on Rex and his wife Rachel Roberts who both had alcohol issues The caretakers of the seals would come running out thinking the animals were making a noise but it was Rex and Rachel WARNING FOR PAUL SIMON The music fan in me cannot let one error in this great book pass by without comment. Mike Nicholls is talking Simon and Garfunkel into doing the score for The Graduate. Unfortunately our author refers to them as “the two singer-songwriters”. I hope Paul Simon is warned about this before he reads it! I could imagine that remark might spoil his morning.

  2. 5 out of 5

    David

    Last night's demoralizing Oscar ceremony—like many stillborn ceremonies before it—makes me wonder why people continue to give a damn at all. Yes, I know there are a bunch of you cranks out there who (loudly) disavow an interest in showbiz spectacle, and you're only too anxious to take a steaming piss on the red carpet to assert some kind of hazy moral superiority. We thank you very kindly for your tsk-tsking, but everybody already knows full well that the frivolous ostentation and shameful self- Last night's demoralizing Oscar ceremony—like many stillborn ceremonies before it—makes me wonder why people continue to give a damn at all. Yes, I know there are a bunch of you cranks out there who (loudly) disavow an interest in showbiz spectacle, and you're only too anxious to take a steaming piss on the red carpet to assert some kind of hazy moral superiority. We thank you very kindly for your tsk-tsking, but everybody already knows full well that the frivolous ostentation and shameful self-love that these award shows entail don't look so good juxtaposed next to starving kids in Africa or the victims of drone strikes in Iraq. We get it. But I could say something roughly similar for Super Bowls, World Cups, amusement parks, and sprawling shopping malls. In short, there are all varieties of poisons—and if you're pious enough never to have tasted any of them, then please go scale the self-actualization triangle and leave us to wallow in the muck and the mire. I bring up the Oscars because the book Pictures at a Revolution by Mark Harris culminates at the 1968 Oscar ceremony. Admittedly there isn't much suspense. Anyone with a modicum of curiosity and energy can google the particulars and quickly discover that Norman Jewison's high-minded film In the Heat of the Night won the Best Picture award that year. Harris suggests that the film was a sort of compromise victory—splitting the difference between the nascent adventurism of New Hollywood, exemplified by co-nominees Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate, and the musty traditionalism of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and Doctor Doolitte. (The latter film, which was both critically and commercially unsuccessful, is alleged to have 'bought' its nomination. Its creators were the unscrupulous forebears of Harvey Weinstein, whose handjobs are proverbial but apparently still pleasurable in Hollywood today.) Harris has selected 1967—the year in film—as emblematic of the fundamental change Hollywood was forced to undergo to remain culturally and artistically relevant. He does an admirable job of weaving together the backstories of all five Best Picture nominees in a surprisingly coherent (and fascinating) narrative; he probably overstates the significance of this particular moment in cinematic history to add a little drama and consequence, but we can forgive him his indulgences in the interest of a more succinct overview. Harris doesn't scrimp on the dish either. If you're a Rex Harrison detractor (as I am) and you've just been jonesing for some fuel for your fire, this is the book for you. What an insufferable jackass he was. He lorded it over the production of Doctor Doolittle as if he were god's gift, motivated by professional jealousy and an inflated sense of his own importance. Occasionally, however, Harris touches on rumors better left on Page Six. (Were Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn bisexual? He brings it up but fails to really address it, so you'll end up remembering the rumor without any idea if it's plausible or even where it originated.) Despite its minor failings—the author worked for Entertainment Weekly (sniff) so what can you expect?—I can't recommend Pictures at a Revolution strongly enough for readers interested in film history. Even if you aren't interested in these specific films, the book is valuable as an excavation of the shrine to New Hollywood. And it's also a surfeit of riches with its tangential anecdotes, like the story of the death throes of the Hollywood Production Code. Sure, none of this is very important in an absolute way, but I pity the poor souls who are immune to thrills of celebrity tattle. A life that's purely necessary is anything but a life, if you ask me. (Yes, that's my rationalization.)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    A book that looks at the 1967 Academy Awards for Best Film, suggesting this moment marked a turning point in film history, especially American mainstream film-making, in the shift from the typical Hollywood star factory machine from the thirties through the early sixties to a younger, more social conscious approach, influenced by the French New Wave including Truffaut and Godard. While this book is truly engaging for any film buff, and maybe especially for someone like me who watched all of the A book that looks at the 1967 Academy Awards for Best Film, suggesting this moment marked a turning point in film history, especially American mainstream film-making, in the shift from the typical Hollywood star factory machine from the thirties through the early sixties to a younger, more social conscious approach, influenced by the French New Wave including Truffaut and Godard. While this book is truly engaging for any film buff, and maybe especially for someone like me who watched all of the nominated films of that year, I never associate anything having to do with Hollywood as connected to a "revolution," but he does persuade that this time in American history created a shift in approaches to the medium. Harris's book takes a pretty close look at the five nominees--Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, Bonnie and Clyde and Doctor Doolittle--and both provides the human drama (and delivers on the hoped-for dish) with respect to each, and puts each film in the context of the societal and cultural upheavals of the mid-to-late sixties--the Civil Rights movement, feminism, the Vietnam War, and so on). Harris wisely focuses on key actors and producers in this process who struggled with the Old Guard: Sidney Poitier, Warren Beatty, Rex Harrison, Mike Nichols, Dustin Hoffman and a few others. We also see the shift from the (moral) Code used to judge films to the rating system. The stories help you realize the racism and the conservativism generally that limited the American film industry. Other films are mentioned in the book, but if you wanted to prepare to read it you could do worse than to watch the first four of these films (I wouldn't waste my time watching Doolittle, the over-budget failure that the studio still managed to buy a Best Film nomination for, but it is still useful to be reminded how that political process works). I plan to watch all of them again in the coming months. Back then, I wasn't upset that In the Heat of the Night won because the team acting of Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier was so great, but my favorite films of that group were The Graduate and Bonnie and Clyde. A great book of you like film and those films and that period of American history. Scene from In the Heat of the Night: They Call me Mr. Tibbs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6n8V... Bonnie and Clyde scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLC0o... The Graduate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahFAR... Guess Who's Coming to Dinner: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6QiE...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Carol Storm

    Five movies were nominated for Best Picture that year. BONNIE AND CLYDE, IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER, DR. DOOLITTLE, and THE GRADUATE. Each movie had something to say about how Old Hollywood was coping -- or not coping -- with the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the Sixties. But BONNIE AND CLYDE and THE GRADUATE in particular were movies that suggested a New Hollywood was being born among the ashes of the old. This is the most wonderful, amazing, and insight Five movies were nominated for Best Picture that year. BONNIE AND CLYDE, IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER, DR. DOOLITTLE, and THE GRADUATE. Each movie had something to say about how Old Hollywood was coping -- or not coping -- with the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the Sixties. But BONNIE AND CLYDE and THE GRADUATE in particular were movies that suggested a New Hollywood was being born among the ashes of the old. This is the most wonderful, amazing, and insightful book on movies I've read since EASY RIDERS, RAGING BULLS. In fact it's almost a perfect "prequel" to that other work, since it shows how the success of early "youth" pictures like THE GRADUATE and BONNIE AND CLYDE gave an opening to young film makers who were waiting to break all the rules. Mark Harris describes the making of all five movies in great detail, with amazingly candid quotes from the stars, the writers, the directors, and the leading movie critics of the day. The book is a gold mine of fascinating personal anecdotes, everything from prim and starchy Katherine Hepburn's slavish, Geisha like submission to the cruel, drunken, derelict Spencer Tracy, to Warren Beatty's gelatinous, oozy charm being unleashed like a secret weapon against the world of the aging studio heads. Even though I raced through this book in a matter of days, and even though I recommend it to anyone who enjoys exciting books about the movies, there were a few things that irritated me. Mark Harris seems to take every single thing the BONNIE AND CLYDE people have to say about their movie at face value. And the same applies to THE GRADUATE. I understand that these movies seemed shocking and revolutionary *at the time* but I also think that after almost fifty years they haven't aged well. Both movies have a smug, smirking, hipper-than-thou tone that is not justified by any real power in either the acting performances or the writing. Mark Harris never explains why a tough prison drama like COOL HAND LUKE, which is just as dark and just as complex as BONNIE AND CLYDE, and was nominated in the same year for a number of Academy Awards (George Kennedy won Best Supporting Actor for his bigger-than-life portrayal of Dragline) just doesn't pass the official hipness test. I understand the real point of the book, though. THE GODFATHER, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, and THE WILD BUNCH are all movies that went further than BONNIE AND CLYDE. But BONNIE AND CLYDE got there first. If you ignore COOL HAND LUKE.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    Over at the film-nerd social network I belong to, Letterboxd.com, one of the tasks in this month's "Movie Scavenger Hunt" is to watch one of the films discussed in Mark Harris' 2008 book Pictures at a Revolution; and I thought this would give me a good excuse to finally read the book itself as well, which I've been wanting to do ever since it came out. An ingenious blend of Hollywood insider tale and legitimate history text, Harris takes the five movies nominated for the 1967 Best Picture Oscar Over at the film-nerd social network I belong to, Letterboxd.com, one of the tasks in this month's "Movie Scavenger Hunt" is to watch one of the films discussed in Mark Harris' 2008 book Pictures at a Revolution; and I thought this would give me a good excuse to finally read the book itself as well, which I've been wanting to do ever since it came out. An ingenious blend of Hollywood insider tale and legitimate history text, Harris takes the five movies nominated for the 1967 Best Picture Oscar -- Bonnie & Clyde, The Graduate, In The Heat of the Night, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and Dr. Dolittle -- then simply recounts the stories of how all five got made in the years previous, showing the sometimes very different circuitous routes based on what kind of production it was. (Bonnie & Clyde, for example, took three years just to find a financier, because no one in Hollywood thought this bizarre little story full of sex and violence would ever get theatrical distribution, much less past the censors in the Hays Code office; Dr. Dolittle, on the other hand, a desperate last attempt by Hollywood's old guard to have another hit on the level of the recent My Fair Lady, was warmly embraced by the studios from day one, even as its budget eventually swelled to today's equivalent of half a billion dollars, at the same time that test audiences were giving every indication that it would become the massive disaster that it eventually turned out to be.) By stringing all these stories together, then, and especially interspersing their development details based on the chronological order of all five, Harris almost accidentally tells a much grander story about the changing nature of the American arts in general during these years, enfolding a series of related moments that were happening at the same time that helped turn this particular year in film history into a watershed moment that we now know as the birth of "New Hollywood." (In the same years as these movies were being made [1964 to 1967, counting the development periods], Walt Disney also died, the last of the active Warner Brothers retired, the Hays Code was officially abandoned, interracial marriage was decriminalized, the first Hollywood studio was sold to a multinational non-filmmaking corporation, and Esquire published its famous "The New Sophistication" article, which for the first time codified the '60s into THE SIXTIES...not by coincidence written by David Newman and Robert Benton, who also wrote the Bonnie & Clyde screenplay, under the stated goal of making "America's very first French New Wave film.") I had already known a bit about how the New Hollywood paradigm came about in these years; but Pictures of a Revolution lays out the story in all its messy, fascinating detail, all the more remarkable for Harris taking an "inside-out" approach in actually telling the story, painting a much bigger and more sweeping picture merely through the act of describing how these five particular films actually got made. Full of literally hundreds of anecdotes that are just begging to be retold at dinner parties to impress your friends, this is an astute, insightful, yet highly entertaining read, a 400-page tome that I blew through in just a day and a half because I literally couldn't put it down. It comes strongly recommended not just to film buffs but to anyone who's interested in learning more about how the countercultural era came about in the first place.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Sumi

    Review to come.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Charles Matthews

    Oscar plays it safe. You can trust the Academy to pick a “Forrest Gump” over a “Pulp Fiction,” an “Ordinary People” over a “Raging Bull,” or a “Kramer vs. Kramer” over an “Apocalypse Now.” Or a well-made, socially conscious melodrama like “In the Heat of the Night” over groundbreaking movies like “Bonnie and Clyde” and “The Graduate.” That’s part of the story that Mark Harris tells in his richly fascinating book, “Pictures at a Revolution,” which focuses on the five nominees for best picture in 1 Oscar plays it safe. You can trust the Academy to pick a “Forrest Gump” over a “Pulp Fiction,” an “Ordinary People” over a “Raging Bull,” or a “Kramer vs. Kramer” over an “Apocalypse Now.” Or a well-made, socially conscious melodrama like “In the Heat of the Night” over groundbreaking movies like “Bonnie and Clyde” and “The Graduate.” That’s part of the story that Mark Harris tells in his richly fascinating book, “Pictures at a Revolution,” which focuses on the five nominees for best picture in 1968 – the other two were “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and “Doctor Dolittle.” The conventional way of writing about five movies would be to devote a section of the book to each. But Harris does something more difficult and far more illuminating: He weaves together the stories of how each movie was conceived, crafted, released, critiqued and received. He writes about the five or six years in which the filmmakers, some of them old pros and some of them rank novices, struggled with a studio system in collapse, an audience whose tastes and enthusiasms seemed wildly unpredictable, and a culture being transformed by volatile social and political forces. A few figures dominate Harris’ narrative – writers Robert Benton, David Newman and Robert Towne; actor-producer Warren Beatty; producers Lawrence Turman, Stanley Kramer and Arthur P. Jacobs; studio heads Jack Warner and Richard Zanuck; directors Mike Nichols, Norman Jewison and Arthur Penn; actors Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Dustin Hoffman, Rod Steiger, Rex Harrison and Sidney Poitier. The book has what Hollywood publicists used to brag about: a cast of thousands. Poitier figures in the stories of three of the movies – "In the Heat of the Night" and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," in which he acted, and "Doctor Dolittle," in which he was cast in a featured role until its chaotic filming led to his being written out of the script. He had become an unexpected star – in 1967, Harris tells us, “Box Office magazine … rated Poitier as the fifth biggest star in Hollywood, ahead of Sean Connery and Steve McQueen. His drawing power was a shock to an industry that had, until recently, treated his employment in movies as something akin to an act of charity.” But at the same time, a “rift had grown between Poitier and a younger, more militant black cultural intelligentsia” that mocked him as an Uncle Tom. The author of one of these denunciations, Clifford Mason, now admits that he “jumped all over Sidney because I wanted him to be Humphrey Bogart when he was really Cary Grant,” but he persists in his criticism of the “role that Sidney always played – the black person with dignity who worries about the white people’s problems – you don’t play that part over and over unless you’re comfortable with that kind of suffering.” Racial tensions and the protest against the war in Vietnam played a large role in shaping these movies. Harris, a writer and former editor for Entertainment Weekly, not only demonstrates how the filmmakers responded to social and political change, but he also has a working knowledge of the film industry that allows him to elaborate on how a colossal flop like “Doctor Dolittle” came about (and how it could be nominated for a best picture Oscar over better-received movies such as “In Cold Blood,” “Cool Hand Luke” and “Two for the Road”). Its producers were inspired by the smash success of “My Fair Lady,” “Mary Poppins” and “The Sound of Music.” “Historically,” Harris comments, “the only event more disruptive to the industry’s ecosystem than an unexpected flop is an unexpected smash, and, caught off guard by the sudden arrival of more revenue than they thought their movies could ever bring in, the major studios resorted to three old habits: imitation, frenzied speculation, and panic.” Imitation was the first impetus behind “Doctor Dolittle” – Alan Jay Lerner, Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews were the talents the producers sought for the film, but they wound up with only one of them. The panic came later – a good deal, but not all, of it caused by the irascible and demanding Harrison, whom Harris presents as a man filled with "anger and paranoia." Among other things, Harrison was an anti-Semite, which led to confrontations with his co-star Anthony Newley, whom he disparaged "sometimes to his face, as a 'Jewish comic' or a 'cockney Jew.' " Harris has created what seems likely to be one of the classics of popular film history, useful to dedicated students of film and cultural historians, and also to trivia buffs. (Did you know that Beatty’s original choices to play Bonnie and Clyde were his sister, Shirley MacLaine, and Bob Dylan?) Harris writes with a wit that’s sly, not show-offy. He can encapsulate the woes of shooting “Doctor Dolittle” in four words: “The rhinoceros got pneumonia.” And he can slip in a bit of insider humor with a reference to Newley’s then-wife, Joan Collins, who “reentered the Hollywood social scene she loved with the vigor of an Olympic athlete” – the syntax leaving it up to the reader to decide whether the prepositional phrase modifies “reentered” or “loved.” Indeed, almost the only complaint about “Pictures at a Revolution” is that, except for an “Epilogue” that briefly sums up the later careers of the major figures, it ends at the Oscar ceremony. You want Harris to go on, to talk about how the success of “Bonnie and Clyde” and “The Graduate” also caused the studios to resort to their old habits of “imitation, frenzied speculation, and panic.” And there were other consequences: “Kramer vs. Kramer” now seems like little more than a well-made domestic drama, while the film that it defeated for the best picture in 1979, Francis Ford Coppola’s audacious mess of a movie, “Apocalypse Now,” is regarded as a classic. “Kramer vs. Kramer” also won Oscars for its writer and director, Robert Benton, one of the writers of “Bonnie and Clyde,” and for Dustin Hoffman, who had become a movie star in “The Graduate.” In eleven years, Benton and Hoffman had gone from being icons of a film revolution to pillars of the establishment. That’s the way things work in Hollywood. If you can’t beat ’em, assimilate ’em.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Anthony McGill

    Outstanding study of the five films nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award of 1967. The year was of particular significance as it was a critical turning point in Hollywood film production with the old studio system gradually giving way to the New Hollywood of maverick filmmakers and a new vision of movie making. Mark Harris has brilliantly told the story of this dynamic period through five films ('Bonnie and Clyde'; 'Doctor Dolittle'; 'The Graduate'; 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner' and 'In t Outstanding study of the five films nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award of 1967. The year was of particular significance as it was a critical turning point in Hollywood film production with the old studio system gradually giving way to the New Hollywood of maverick filmmakers and a new vision of movie making. Mark Harris has brilliantly told the story of this dynamic period through five films ('Bonnie and Clyde'; 'Doctor Dolittle'; 'The Graduate'; 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner' and 'In the Heat of the Night') but this is only just the seed to a superb overall analysis of American filmmaking of the period. Entertaining and enlightening, impeccably researched and written by a film historian who knows his stuff, this book is unreservedly, one of the finest books I have ever read on the cinema! A master work and essential reading for anyone interested in film and social history of the time.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Richard Kramer

    Yesterday I went into Book Soup, my favorite LA indie bookstore, somehow thriving after close to forty years.I found on a table a stack of copies of the book PICTURES AT A REVOLUTION, by Mark Harris. Now, there aren’t many necessary books about Hollywood; this is one of them. THE STUDIO, by John Gregory Dunne, is another; Dunne reports on the inner working of 20th Century Fox at the same time Harris writes about in his book; Dunne was there (bad idea; Joan Didion: Writers are always selling some Yesterday I went into Book Soup, my favorite LA indie bookstore, somehow thriving after close to forty years.I found on a table a stack of copies of the book PICTURES AT A REVOLUTION, by Mark Harris. Now, there aren’t many necessary books about Hollywood; this is one of them. THE STUDIO, by John Gregory Dunne, is another; Dunne reports on the inner working of 20th Century Fox at the same time Harris writes about in his book; Dunne was there (bad idea; Joan Didion: Writers are always selling somebody out); Harris might as well have been there, as his writing is that vivid, events seeming to happen in front of him as he writes, capturing them with an artful simplicity that seems to let them speak for themselves. And then there’s PICTURE, by Lillian Ross, a long New Yorker piece from the early 50′s about the making of John Huston’s THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE (which I’ve never seen, or read! Hmmm …) But this book is in a class by itself. Harris picks one year (1967) and picks that year’s product — more specifically, the films upon which it, “Hollywood”, then as now more idea than place — chose to bestow Best Picture nominations — as a lens to examine a seismic shift in American culture, in that extended moment when the fly-infested, rheumatic lions of the past creakily tried to roar away the new pride that approached the gates and said “Let us in.” The films are Doctor Doolittle, In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, The Graduate, and Bonnie and Clyde. Old Hollywood began to die, and new Hollywood — that would lead to the golden age of the 70′s — began to blossom. Harris approaches this with the fervor of an investigative journalist, tirelessly trying to get to the bottom of things. And he has a sense of humor; there are hilarious tales of Hollywood here I’ve never heard, and I’ve heard a lot of them, including some I’ve made up. Someone recently quoted to me an insight of the late director Alan Pakula, who said actors are all the same person, in different bodies; PICTURES AT A REVOLUTION casts its net wider than the actor pool, but the truth behind Pakula’s remark applies to those drawn to work and live in Hollywood in general. The book is set in 1967, but the dreams and dreamers and bloviated red-faced vanity Harris writes about is somehow timeless, and I suspect always will be.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This book was a honking huge volume. Luckily, I really enjoy books about production history, I was already familar with all of the films... and we had talked a little bit about the birth of "New Hollywood" in several of my critical studies film classes at USC. So, I came into the book knowing that I would love it. Oh, boy, did I ever. Mark Harris really delves into a detailed history of each movie, from conception to pitching to production to marketing to the actual Academy Awards ceremony. I lov This book was a honking huge volume. Luckily, I really enjoy books about production history, I was already familar with all of the films... and we had talked a little bit about the birth of "New Hollywood" in several of my critical studies film classes at USC. So, I came into the book knowing that I would love it. Oh, boy, did I ever. Mark Harris really delves into a detailed history of each movie, from conception to pitching to production to marketing to the actual Academy Awards ceremony. I loved it. He used a very strict chronological timeframe, so his descriptions of projects often bled into each other if things happened at the same time. I couldn't really differentiate chapters and couldn't actually understand the point of the divisions in the structure of the book. Despite that little construction issue, I really loved the included pictures, the funny little anecdotes, and the cultural background that Harris included. As someone who wasn't around during the 1960s, I appreciated Harris' descriptions of influential films and political events that shaped a lot of the decisions of the major players. I had never imagined how incestuous Hollywood was at that time. Sidney Poitier starred in two of the films nominated for Best Picture in 1968 - Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? and In the Heat of the Night. He was also supposed to be involved in Dr. Doolittle. Even the sections about Bonnie and Clyde and the Graduate mentioned him in passing. Harris doesn't refrain from being a bit gossipy in his prose, either. I got to hear stories about Rex Harrison and his drunken lush of a wife; Katherine Hepburn and her amazingly enigmatic relationship with Spencer Tracy; Sidney Poitier's inner turmoil at being the token black actor of Hollywood; Dustin Hoffman's reluctance about being a film actor... I really read this book with IMDB at my side. I looked up almost every figure to see what they've done recently, what they did before. In a way, reading the book with IMDB was a bit like skipping to the end and seeing spoilers... but I do that anyway. This was an amazing work. If someone was even moderately interested in film history, they would love this.

  11. 5 out of 5

    David J

    Review to come.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ken Ronkowitz

    I got this book primarily because it includes a lot about 'The Graduate' -one of my favorite films. Maybe my most favorite. And I enjoyed everything about it here. Though this was only published in 2008, I feel like all the other films covered don't play as well, or at least the same way, now. The violence of 'Bonnie and Clyde', the racial attitudes of Dinner seem so wrong now. Thinking of them as social documents of that time is my only lens for viewing. Even the silly Doolittle is so far away I got this book primarily because it includes a lot about 'The Graduate' -one of my favorite films. Maybe my most favorite. And I enjoyed everything about it here. Though this was only published in 2008, I feel like all the other films covered don't play as well, or at least the same way, now. The violence of 'Bonnie and Clyde', the racial attitudes of Dinner seem so wrong now. Thinking of them as social documents of that time is my only lens for viewing. Even the silly Doolittle is so far away from the Pixar film of this century. The book is a good window into that time and a kind of filmmaking now gone. Perhaps for good reasons.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    This book is journalism at its absolute best; impeccable research and a wonderful story. The best histories are not just about their own subject, but give you a whole feel for the time and place. Harris has got into every part of this story; he's spoken to everyone, and read everything, but most of all he can really tell a great story. One of the best film books I've read, and I've read many. This is up there with Steven Bach's Final Cut for me. This book is journalism at its absolute best; impeccable research and a wonderful story. The best histories are not just about their own subject, but give you a whole feel for the time and place. Harris has got into every part of this story; he's spoken to everyone, and read everything, but most of all he can really tell a great story. One of the best film books I've read, and I've read many. This is up there with Steven Bach's Final Cut for me.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    If you're a big movie and movie history buff like me, this book is a must-read! It's a wonderful glimpse into what it was like right at the cusp of "old" and "new" Hollywood, full of direct quotes from many of the actors, directors, screenwriters, and producers who weathered the changes. It mainly focuses on 5 movies that, in their own ways, heralded the change: Look Who's Coming to Dinner; In the Heat of the Night; Bonny & Clyde; The Graduate; and Doctor Dolittle. It was quite fascinating! If you're a big movie and movie history buff like me, this book is a must-read! It's a wonderful glimpse into what it was like right at the cusp of "old" and "new" Hollywood, full of direct quotes from many of the actors, directors, screenwriters, and producers who weathered the changes. It mainly focuses on 5 movies that, in their own ways, heralded the change: Look Who's Coming to Dinner; In the Heat of the Night; Bonny & Clyde; The Graduate; and Doctor Dolittle. It was quite fascinating!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    This is a fascinating history of the movie industry and people in the early and mid 1960s. There is also a brief discussion about movies in the 1970s. Though these films were nominated in 1967 for Best Picture-Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, Doctor Doolittle, and Bonnie and Clyde, the book goes into other films and industry characters. This is a fascinating history of the movie industry and people in the early and mid 1960s. There is also a brief discussion about movies in the 1970s. Though these films were nominated in 1967 for Best Picture-Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, Doctor Doolittle, and Bonnie and Clyde, the book goes into other films and industry characters.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brent Ecenbarger

    I’m embarrassed to admit something, but first some background info: My friends and family know I love movies. Beth and I watch a new release every weekend and have for about 5 years now, but we also own tons of dvds and watch them regularly as well. Our viewing isn’t confined to genre fare (although we happen to love horror, sci-fi, western, etc.) or American (Kurosawa, Bergman, Truffaut, etc. are all well represented in our home), and most years we even try to see all the films nominated for Be I’m embarrassed to admit something, but first some background info: My friends and family know I love movies. Beth and I watch a new release every weekend and have for about 5 years now, but we also own tons of dvds and watch them regularly as well. Our viewing isn’t confined to genre fare (although we happen to love horror, sci-fi, western, etc.) or American (Kurosawa, Bergman, Truffaut, etc. are all well represented in our home), and most years we even try to see all the films nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. My favorite actor of all time is probably Paul Newman, and he was nominated for Best Actor in one of my favorite movies ever, “Cool Hand Luke” in the year 1967, and “The Dirty Dozen is another of my favorites released that year. So, my confession? I’ve never actually seen “The Graduate,” “In the Heat of the Night,” “Bonnie and Clyde,” or the original versions of “Dr. Dolittle” or “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” in their entireties. I mean sure, I’ve seen the ending of “Bonnie and Clyde,” and “The Graduate” enough times to instantly recognize when they are being parodied by “Wayne’s World II” or whatever else is referencing them. Likewise, I know who Mr. Tibbs is, and I’ve seen the remake of “Dr. Dolittle” and probably watched most of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” in various intervals while my mom’s had it on tv. However, none of the films had been a must see for me because they were always around, or replaying on tv somewhere. Why should I sit down and commit to a film where I already know the ending, one that’s been spoiled, or spoofed, or recreated in homage in twenty other films while I could be watching “Tremors” on USA again? “Pictures At a Revolution” is a microhistory of film in 1967, with a recurring thesis statement that it was the year the New Hollywood ascended and Old Hollywood was left behind. New Hollywood types like Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman, and Mike Nichols became rich and successful in the industry, while others like Jack Warner, Sydney Poitier and Spencer Tracy either peaked or made their final imprints on that same industry. The five movies chosen by Harris to focus on are the best picture nominees for that year, which opens up a whole other can of worms. Harris writes the book from an objective perspective, sharing critical reviews by critics from 1967 to show how films were received. The result is that “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” and “Dr. Dolittle” are considered failures compared to the other three films, and less deserving of their nominations (Dolittle in particular received it’s nomination through some shady studio lobbying/bribery). Many of the best anecdotes in the book are from the troubled “Dr. Dolittle” production. The end result is the biggest negative I can say about this book is that by limiting it to the best picture nominated films, I was left wanting to hear more about the “Cool Hand Luke,” “The Dirty Dozen,” “Camelot” and other productions that were referenced as taking place. A film like “The Whispers” is one I know nothing about, but critics seemed ok with somebody winning Best Actress and that’s all I can remember about that film now that I’m done with the book. Those are quibbles about a really fantastic book though. One twice as long about the entire industry in that year would have been great in my opinion, but as it stands, this book reads like “Project Greenlight” in studio and independent American cinema, and that’s a great thing. Harris has always been one of my favorite Grantland writers (RIP, guess I’m reading Vulture now) for his ability to take subjective topics like accolades and provide context for how the nominating decisions are made and what they mean. Likewise, his knowledge of box office data is second none, and he shows off both areas of expertise frequently in this book. (Nick Hornby also frequently cited this book as one of his favorites in his “Ten Years In the Tub” collection of articles for the Guardian that I recently finished.) I understand his next book is a biography on Mike Nichols, which I’m slightly disappointed in as he really seems to work best when comparing big ideas. While Nichols was an interesting cog in this book, his story seemed less interesting than that of Poitier, Hepburn, Jewison or Beatty to this reader. This is highly recommended for fans of film, or great non-fiction storytelling in general.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Saunders

    Brilliant look at the film industry’s chaotic, testy transition to the New Hollywood. Harris (Five Came Back) frames his story around the making of 1967′s Best Picture nominees: Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night and Dr. Doolittle. Anyone seeking to capture the turmoil of Sixties Hollywood couldn’t have dreamed a better line-up: two of these movies were game-changers that pushed the envelope in the sex, violence and moral ambiguity allowed onsc Brilliant look at the film industry’s chaotic, testy transition to the New Hollywood. Harris (Five Came Back) frames his story around the making of 1967′s Best Picture nominees: Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night and Dr. Doolittle. Anyone seeking to capture the turmoil of Sixties Hollywood couldn’t have dreamed a better line-up: two of these movies were game-changers that pushed the envelope in the sex, violence and moral ambiguity allowed onscreen; two were racial dramas starring Sidney Poitier; the fifth, an overblown musical that represented everything wrong with the dying Studio System. Unlike Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls and similar works promoting the New Hollywood cult, Harris shows that there was no clear demarcation between eras. The line blurred rather than blew up, as old school tycoons retired for ambitious younger producers; the Production Code suffered death by a million cuts, struggling to curb increasingly risque films; new writers and directors, steeped in Hollywood classics and European art cinema, presented riskier ideas; the social tumult and youth focus of the ‘60s inevitably bled into the movies, forcing filmmakers to embrace more controversial material. Harris’s lively portrait is full of ambiguities and contradictions, showing the odd way these films came to be. Warren Beatty, star of Bonnie and Clyde, had been groomed in the Studio System and represented a bridge between it and the New Hollywood; he took a chance on a gangster movie script modeled on the French New Wave (Francois Truffaut was originally asked to direct), attached the veteran Arthur Penn to direct and nabbed up-and-comer Faye Dunaway as his co-star. Harris also spends a great deal of time on Sidney Poitier, America’s foremost (indeed, nearly its only) black leading man, struggling to maintain dignity through a series of Magical Negro characterizations that irritated him while alienating black and progressive moviegoers. He loved Norman Jewison’s In the Heat of the Night, which allowed him to slap back against racists rather than merely turn the other cheek, while despising Stanley Kramer’s treacly Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (not least for the abrasiveness and patrician racism of costars Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn). There’s also Mike Nichols, the theater director who broke into film with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and turned The Graduate into an unlikely hit with an unlikelier star, Dustin Hoffman. And Richard Fleischer’s Dr. Doolittle, a bloated studio behemoth derailed by grotesque budget overruns, an outsized advertizing campaign and star Rex Harrison’s hopelessly inflamed ego. In the end, four of the films succeeded to varying degrees. The Graduate and Bonnie and Clyde’s explosive impact on ‘60s audiences (alternately scorned and praised by critics, generally loved by audiences) is hard to measure at fifty-plus years’ remove; nothing quite like either movie had existed before, and only since in imitations. Poitier’s vehicles (In the Heat of the Night won Best Picture) presented safe, audience-friendly messages of raical tolerance that seemed increasingly anachronistic, but struck a chord with liberals who still hoped reason could triumph over prejudice. As for Doolittle, well, virtually no one liked it, but it scored an Oscar nomination due to the studio hype machine. In their own ways, all five movies both captured and shaped their uncertain times. And Harris’ book is a masterpiece of film history: briskly written, insightful, even-handed: an incredible read about an unforgettable subject.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Megankellie

    This is pretty film-geekily interesting and just the complete detail you want behind the scenes of the five movies that were nominated for Best Picture in 1967 - In the Heat of the Night, The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, and Dr. Dolittle. Great history and context and the detailed battle of getting something produced and marketed. So detailed, you start from the second the screenwriters behind Bonnie and Clyde thought of the script and the million years until they sa This is pretty film-geekily interesting and just the complete detail you want behind the scenes of the five movies that were nominated for Best Picture in 1967 - In the Heat of the Night, The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, and Dr. Dolittle. Great history and context and the detailed battle of getting something produced and marketed. So detailed, you start from the second the screenwriters behind Bonnie and Clyde thought of the script and the million years until they saw it on screen. My favorite and possibly all time good reason for not liking someone's wife--apparently SPOILER ALERT: INAPPROPRIATE: Rex Harrison and his wife were legendary drunks, her main booze-trick was barking like a dog. Other highlights in polite company include a drunk handstand in a skirt while wearing no underwear and the all time, best reason Liz Taylor and Richard Burton thought "don't invite them to any more parties, I don't care if we have stuff in common and it's Italy and we don't know that many people" : she barked like a dog (of course!) in the middle of a party, then got down on the floor and began to masturbate a beagle. Comedy nerds will be very happy to find information about Nichols and May and Arthur Penn and Mike Nichols being a dick at a Hollywood party and finding an awesome friend that way (bad life lesson?). Also the Sidney Poitier-ness of Sidney Poitier and how so many college kids stopped Dustin Hoffman on the street when the Graduate was in theaters and said like "we're just like you" and he would say "no--I'm 30 years old!" The story of Bonnie and Clyde is very impressive and you will have new found respect for everyone involved AND Warren Beatty. So.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    This comprehensive, engaging, and dishy account of the five Best Picture nominees from 1967 is one of the most entertaining books I've read in a while. The movies in question marked a turning point in American filmmaking, when daring, unusual works (BONNIE AND CLYDE and THE GRADUATE), social commentary (IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT and GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER) and stodgy, big budget road shows (DOCTOR DOLITTLE) were vying for prominence and ticket sales. Rather than tell the story of each film o This comprehensive, engaging, and dishy account of the five Best Picture nominees from 1967 is one of the most entertaining books I've read in a while. The movies in question marked a turning point in American filmmaking, when daring, unusual works (BONNIE AND CLYDE and THE GRADUATE), social commentary (IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT and GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER) and stodgy, big budget road shows (DOCTOR DOLITTLE) were vying for prominence and ticket sales. Rather than tell the story of each film one by one, Harris weaves their production histories together chronologically. While BONNIE AND CLYDE was struggling to find a director, THE GRADUATE was going through numerous rewrites and failing to find the right tone for such droll source material. Meanwhile, production of DOCTOR DOLITTLE proved to be an unending comedy of errors due to disastrous location shoots, untamable animals, and an unhinged Rex Harrison. We also learn how Sidney Poitier's involvement in three 1967 films about race (HEAT, DINNER, and TO SIR, WITH LOVE) made him the most prolific star of the year while further alienating him from black moviegoers who, noticing a pattern of Poitier playing over-idealized characterizations, yearned for three-dimensional representation on screen. The result is a cultural history that reads more like an epic novel about art, politics, race, and American values in the civil rights era. As for the films in question: THE GRADUATE > BONNIE AND CLYDE > IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT > GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER (I couldn't bring myself to watch DOCTOR DOLITTLE, and I'm convinced by Harris's account that I don't need to.)

  20. 5 out of 5

    David

    Harris writes about the five films nominated for the Academy Awards' best picture for 1967 in three parts: conception, making of, and final product. The book is well written and appears to be meticulously researched. The first chapter was a bit off-putting in an artsy highfalutin kind of way but it came back to earth soon after. At the outset I thought I'd make it a point to watch each film (Bonnie & Clyde; Dr. Dolittle; Guess Who's Coming to Dinner; In the Heat of the Night; and The Graduate) bu Harris writes about the five films nominated for the Academy Awards' best picture for 1967 in three parts: conception, making of, and final product. The book is well written and appears to be meticulously researched. The first chapter was a bit off-putting in an artsy highfalutin kind of way but it came back to earth soon after. At the outset I thought I'd make it a point to watch each film (Bonnie & Clyde; Dr. Dolittle; Guess Who's Coming to Dinner; In the Heat of the Night; and The Graduate) but quickly abandoned that goal. Surprisingly, the background information dampened my enthusiasm completely. This is a book for movie lovers or at least fans of some or all of these films. Or anyone interested in the rise of the New Hollywood of the late 60s. I used to love going to the movies but haven't seen anything I've really liked in quite a while so I'm probably the wrong audience for this kind of subject. The message I got was akin to beauty being in the eye of the beholder. Dr. Dolittle sounds like a garbage film but the others had their share of supporters and detractors. People who found deep meaning and others who thought they were shallow. Not a revelation but the author did a nice job of comparing the films to the issues of the day to provide a better perspective for the reader. Most of the people described within the book are pretty unlikable (except Sidney Poitier, who comes across very well) and that occasionally made the material a bit tiring, although some behavior was so bad it was funny. Rex Harrison and Rachel Roberts immediately come to mind.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    This is your book if you appreciate thoroughness, historical accuracy and narrative momentum with your cinema journalism. Mark Harris captures the essence of mid-60s filmmaking in a bottle, exhaustively documenting the making and promotion of the five films nominated for the best picture Oscar in 1967: Bonnie & Clyde, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, and (seriously) Dr. Doolittle. Harris masterfully weaves the story of each film's creation into a united threa This is your book if you appreciate thoroughness, historical accuracy and narrative momentum with your cinema journalism. Mark Harris captures the essence of mid-60s filmmaking in a bottle, exhaustively documenting the making and promotion of the five films nominated for the best picture Oscar in 1967: Bonnie & Clyde, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, and (seriously) Dr. Doolittle. Harris masterfully weaves the story of each film's creation into a united thread instead of dividing his story into static chapters on individual films, so the reader can fully appreciate the tectonic shift that took place during this era. Eye opening, fascinating stuff.

  22. 5 out of 5

    David

    Just a great read - and not what I had anticipated. I'd read little about it prior and, for some reason, thought the book might focus on the Oscars. Wrong. It covers this whole period in film, during which time films were passing over from the studio system to a bold, progressive way of filmmaking - as reflected in the five films nommed for Best Pic as well as other films being made at and around this time. The changing political/social climate also comes into play here. A very addictive read fo Just a great read - and not what I had anticipated. I'd read little about it prior and, for some reason, thought the book might focus on the Oscars. Wrong. It covers this whole period in film, during which time films were passing over from the studio system to a bold, progressive way of filmmaking - as reflected in the five films nommed for Best Pic as well as other films being made at and around this time. The changing political/social climate also comes into play here. A very addictive read for someone like myself - a real film junkie. Breezy, informative, with a very engaging writing style. I finished it in 2 days.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Phenomenal, both as film history and as an exploration of the cultural upheaval of the sixties. It’s impossible to summarize 17+ hours of history in a review written with one hand on an iPhone, so I won’t try, but suffice to say that this absolutely recommended to cinephiles.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Thrasher

    I thought this was a fascinating look at the machinations of Hollywood during a time of transition between the old and the new, told through the lens of of the five best picture nominees at the 1968 Academy Awards. Of the five, I have seen The Graduate (which I don't really remember); probably Doctor Dolittle (but I really don't remember that one); Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (I've seen that one several times), Bonnie and Clyde (never seen it) and In the Heat of the Night (the eventual best pic I thought this was a fascinating look at the machinations of Hollywood during a time of transition between the old and the new, told through the lens of of the five best picture nominees at the 1968 Academy Awards. Of the five, I have seen The Graduate (which I don't really remember); probably Doctor Dolittle (but I really don't remember that one); Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (I've seen that one several times), Bonnie and Clyde (never seen it) and In the Heat of the Night (the eventual best picture winner, which I have never seen). Mark Harris does such a great job of setting a story that you don't really need to see all the movies in order to enjoy the book. He does occasionally stray into "inside baseball" territory; but his ability to capture all the main players and make them sing on the page is really what made the book so much fun to read. Takeaways. A few of the things Dustin Hoffman admitted to doing would have him MeToo'd today (pinching Katherine Ross's ass comes to mind first); Rex Harrison and his wife are terrible people who were terribly fucked up; Sydney Poitier was a tragic character which made him all the more interesting; Anne Bancroft sounded fascinatingly difficult / difficultly fascinating; the real Doctor Dolittle would have had to rush in and rescue all the poor abused animals that were making the film (would Hugh Lofting have really approved of this movie or was his animal loving doctor a cynical creation on Lofting's part?). I have always loved reading about the Academy Awards - the season, the drama, the shenanigans, the campaigning, the behind the scenes, the show. Inside Oscar: The Unofficial History of the Academy Awards. I loved the chapter about the 1968 Awards - and from that chapter, another takeaway is that Bob Hope was an out of touch schmuck.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Fascinating - the story of the five film nominated for Best Picture in 1967 - Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and Dr. Doolittle. From the first plans by the writers to the night of the awards. Now I have to go watch all of those films again. Fascinating - the story of the five film nominated for Best Picture in 1967 - Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and Dr. Doolittle. From the first plans by the writers to the night of the awards. Now I have to go watch all of those films again.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I've just finished this terrific Oscar-themed book, Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood by Mark Harris. Though it was published in 2008 I missed it when it came out. I picked it up when I saw it mentioned by Greta Gerwig (writer-director of Lady Bird) in a NYTimes interview earlier this month. (Gerwig said of it: "I love the Mark Harris book Pictures at a Revolution, which I think does an amazing job of looking at a moment of culture through the best-picture I've just finished this terrific Oscar-themed book, Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood by Mark Harris. Though it was published in 2008 I missed it when it came out. I picked it up when I saw it mentioned by Greta Gerwig (writer-director of Lady Bird) in a NYTimes interview earlier this month. (Gerwig said of it: "I love the Mark Harris book Pictures at a Revolution, which I think does an amazing job of looking at a moment of culture through the best-picture nominees of 1968 and what it meant for a changing Hollywood and a changing country." That really says it all, but as long as you're here, I'll expand on that.) The author is a longtime writer and editor at Entertainment Weekly, The scheme of his book is brilliant—and brilliantly executed. He looked deeply into the five Best Picture nominees for 1968, choosing that year as a turning point in the revolution from the old studio system to the new Hollywood era of independent production. The nominees were: Bonnie and Clyde The Graduate In The Heat of The Night Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Doctor Dolittle I'm impressed with how comprehensive a history Harris can tell using just five films as his spine. The drama of the first third of Harris's book is the drama of getting the five films to the screen. Some of them were writer-driven. Some were producer-driven. Some were studio-driven. Some were star-driven. None of them had a straightforward journey from concept to screen. The book follows all five in parallel as the participants fought and struggled to steer the projects to meet their own vision, interests, and schedules. Because the author had access to memos, treatments, and multiple script drafts, he's able to dig into the process of shaping and trimming stories to meld the vision of the creators with the realities of budget and the marketing expectations of the studios—and, in many cases the whims and insecurities of the stars. Act II of the book, covers the production of these movies, described with a breadth of detail for the specific contributions of screenwriters, directors, producers, actors, production designers, cinematographers, editors, and publicists. Oh, and, of course, studio production executives and accountants. I've rarely read a book that dug so deeply and broadly into the contributions of the various departments that contribute to what we see on the screen. Act III covers the release, reception, and the Awards ceremony itself. Harris spent four years researching the book, getting a huge number of direct interviews with surviving participants—and with family members of those who had passed on. He also had access to archives of treatments, script drafts, deal memos, correspondence, and more. He built his colorful narrative from recollections of lunches, dinners, parties, and phone calls marking milestones of options, hirings, firings, re-hirings as the participants drove each of these five projects from concept through release and on to the Oscar ceremony. The granularity of what Harris managed to dig up is impressive. I don't know a better book that covers the personal and corporate struggles of getting a film made. (Not just how to make a movie... but how to get a movie to the point where, finally, you can make it.) Harris gives us a sense of the careers of the people writers, producers, actors, cinematographers, and directors involved that bring them to the point of being involved in these films. Zooming out from there that, he offers a vivid snapshot of Hollywood at the moment that it flipped from the old studio system to the era of indies. And zooming further, it's not only a tale of Hollywood, but of New York, Paris, and London as well. While the five nominated films are the core of the story, the book brings in many other films that influenced these five and that shaped the careers of the participants. And zooming still further, he reminds us of the political and cultural forces that shaped these films and the audiences that embraced them. Two of the films, Bonnie and Clyde, and The Graduate originated outside of Hollywood—completely outside the system by people trying to break in. They stand for the new order, the emerging world of film Two of the films, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and In The Heat of The Night are respectively a comedy and a drama about race in America. You can measure how much progress we made—and failed to make—on the issues of race and diversity by comparing these films with today's. In the time-frame of this book, our major Civil Rights laws had just been passed, we had urban riots, but, then in the week before the Oscar ceremony, Dr. King was killed. The last film, Doctor Dolittle was a bloated, leaden, extravagant musical misfire that, in the book, is a perfect stand-in for the studio system that was dying. This is film history at its most entertaining, flavored with rich anecdotes from every stage of production. If there's one thing that people in the business do well, it's tell stories. And Mark Harris has dug up some terrific stories about people who tell stories for a living.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Legault

    I have seen all of these movies and what a year it was! This book followed my reading of 1968: The Year that Changed America and further supports what a transformational year it was.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Max Magbee

    A terrific and straight-forward read that covers the lions share of a watershed decade in American Cinema.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alex Bush

    Listened to the audiobook every time I was in the midst of moving over the past few months. Fascinating, breezy, easy to jump in and out.

  30. 4 out of 5

    David Keaton

    Detailing one particular Oscar race and the state of American movies in 1967 teetering on the verge of Frenchification and finally New Hollywood-ing it up, where In the Heat of the Night, Bonnie & Clyde, and The Graduate went toe to toe to toe, and the cringey Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and the wretched Dr. Doolittle were just happy to crash the party. A bit insular to the film community but understandably concerned about how so many people get it wrong at first until the world catches up with Detailing one particular Oscar race and the state of American movies in 1967 teetering on the verge of Frenchification and finally New Hollywood-ing it up, where In the Heat of the Night, Bonnie & Clyde, and The Graduate went toe to toe to toe, and the cringey Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and the wretched Dr. Doolittle were just happy to crash the party. A bit insular to the film community but understandably concerned about how so many people get it wrong at first until the world catches up with the trailblazers. For example, one of the most "who cares?" passages, and one of the more concentrated takedowns, is directed at a fellow critic (Bosley Crowther of The Times). I also detected some snark towards up-and-coming (at the time) Pauline Kael, which is like stepping on Superman's cape! And her famously angry review of The Graduate is/was pretty funny, and she is still absolutely right about Benjamin making the wrong choice. Team Mrs. Robinson all the way! And weirdly, she's not given enough credit for her championing of Bonnie and Clyde, a review which sort of broke (American) movies for the better, almost as much as the movie itself. Great insider details make it a fun, fast read though, like Simon & Garfunkel's songs being rejected by Graduate director Mike Nichols, who, much to everyone's horror, decided to just spin a Greatest Hits soundtrack instead (The Sound of Silence was old news when the movie came out, but no one remembers it this way anymore), with the notable exception of a little half-ass ditty called "Mrs. Roosevelt" where they just changed the title and chorus to you-know-who. Anyway, it's a blast to be ringside as everyone gets it wrong over and over again, like In the Heat of the Night winning Best Picture over Bonnie & Clyde (and Truman Capote calling it "A good bad movie!" Sassy bitch), or Dr. Doolittle being nominated over In Cold Blood (Capote had a lot to say about the Oscars that year for good reason), even if it all just sounds suspiciously like how they keep getting it wrong today, and will always continue to.

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