Friday's Book: A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American FilmsBy Martin Scorsese (Faber & Faber, pounds 20)
Though he singles out such shoestring classics as Jacques Tourneur's Cat People, which cost pounds 134,000 in 1942, and Edward G Ulmer's Detour (1946), shot in six days for $20,000, Scorsese also acknowledges a debt to De Mille's biblical blockbusters: "His later epics are the ones that made an indelible impression on me, particularly his own remake of The Ten Commandments, which I have seen countless times."
Originally a script for two BFI documentaries on American cinema, Scorsese's text is simple and to the point: "First and foremost, film noir was a style." It is augmented by excellently reproduced black-and-white stills from films both famous and obscure: John Wayne striding into the void at the end of The Searchers, Gene Tierney as a smouldering murderess in Leave Her to Heaven; Gaby Rodger's screaming face up-lit by a radioactive glow in Kiss Me Deadly.
Scorsese's taste in dialogue is equally sure. Particularly outstanding is the stiletto-sharp banter from Sweet Smell of Success, the mini-lecture on criminality and big business from I Walk Alone (it would fit into Scorsese's own Casino) and the shivery, unforgettable exchange which climaxes Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven. Sheriff (Gene Hackman): "You'd be William Munny out in Missouri. Killed women and children." Munny (Eastwood): "That's right. I've killed women and children. Killed just about everything who walks or crawls at one time or another. And I'm here to kill you, Little Bill."
Though Scorsese insists that "the film director has to be, first and foremost, a team player", the book is a glorious celebration of the auteur theory - the insistence on the primacy of the director first advanced in Cahiers du Cinema and elaborated by the American critic Andrew Sarris. However, few films today show any sign of authorial stamp. It is a sad reflection that Scorsese feels it necessary to advise the nerdish young turks who dominate modern Hollywood to see films from the past: "I'm always looking for something or someone that I can learn from."
Life & Style blogs
Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
Victoria Beckham's clothing sales double to £30 million in one year
GTA 5: Christmas arrives in Los Santos as update brings snowball fights, festive jumpers and a homing missile launcher
'Tis the season!: Google celebrates Christmas Eve with second animated Doodle
Christmas 2014: Jesus was not born in a stable, says theologian
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 3 Northern Lights above Britain: Stunning Aurora Borealis illuminates Northumberland sky on Christmas Eve
- 4 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 5 New route to Mars could make manned mission much cheaper and easier
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...
£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...
Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...