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Book Review: Movie Star Chronicles By Ian Haydn Smith
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Movie Star Chronicles: A Visual History of the World’s Greatest Movie Stars
Paperback
Written by Ian Haydn Smith
Forward by David Gordon Green
Firefly Books
Release Date: September 17, 2015

Paul Newman was a radioman-gunner in WWII. Afterword, he studied at the Actor’s Studio under Lee Strasburg. He worked on a bunch of TV shows before starring in his first film, The Silver Chalice, in 1954. Richard Dreyfuss’s Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, have earned 2 billion and 1.2 billion dollars respectively worldwide (to-date gross – adjusted for inflation). The last movie Marilyn Monroe was working on, Something’s Gotta Give, with Dean Martin was scrapped because of her drug and mental issues. Movie Star Chronicles: A Visual History of the World’s Greatest Movie Stars by Ian Haydn Smith provides you with this kind of info and more. Smith got some well qualified contributors together to compile this list of 330 actors, both modern and days past, that embody (to them) what truly makes a star.

More below.

The book is not something you read cover to cover. It is a quite dense 576 pages. Each entry contains a movie timeline, awards won and nominated for, box office gross of some of the films, types of movies, types of roles, pics of the star in each movie, plus a 1-2 page career bio. Some of the greats, like Brando, Samuel L Jackson, Helen Mirren, and Audrey Hepburn, also get 2 extra dedicated pages of film stills.

There’s much to like about this chronicle. It packs a lot of info in for each actor. The pics, while small, are beautiful. And each entry is guaranteed to teach you something you didn’t know before about your favorite stars. Also fun are the compilation pages, like “Singers On The Screen” (Bing Crosby, Elvis, Bowie), “Acting Dynasties” (Fondas, Barrymores), and “Stars of Horror” (Vincent Price, Bela Lugosi).

My only criticism is that it misses some of the greats that I think can easily be replaced with some of the ones included. Smith does include the disclaimer that it doesn’t have all of the stars, but leaving out Elizabeth Taylor, Robert Duvall, and Jeremy Irons to name a few, seems gaping. Nonetheless, you will enjoy reading up on those they do include like Pacino, DiCaprio, and Jodie Foster.

Movie Star Chronicles is a must-have for any movie buff, for what would these movies be without its stars?

Official Synopsis:

Movie Star Chronicles promises to satisfy the curiosity of moviegoers, cinephiles, and the Hollywood-hungry fans that fuel today’s entertainment news industry. For film students, it is a practical reference to the most important actors in cinematic history.

Entries illustrated with film and television stills and other archival material chart the careers of 330 actors from the era of silent film to today’s blockbusters. Expert text gives an entertaining overview and color-coded timelines provide an at-a-glance guide to the actor’s career, their roles, movie release dates, earnings and awards.

With 576 pages and more than 2,500 illustrations for only $29.95, Movie Star Chronicles is an outstanding value. It includes:

A to Z coverage of 330 movie stars, with extended entries for 100
20 feature articles on popular movie trends, including vampires; western heroes; singers turned actors; femmes fatales; saints and sinners; acting dynasties; combat stars; cops and more.

30 lavish double-page photo spreads showing cinema’s most influential stars at work and how film has evolved from silent black-and-white to color 3-D.

20 illustrated features on genres and trends, such as Superheroes, Acting Dynasties, Screen Sirens, and Movie Villains.

Color-coded timelines showing the arc of an actor’s career, including release dates and types of features, such as Criminal, Romantic Drama, and Thriller.

Best Actor awards: Oscars, BAFTA, Cesar (France), Goya (Spain), David Di Donatello (Italy), Golden Horse (Asia), Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Sundance.

Covering Hollywood, Bollywood and world cinema, Movie Star Chronicles is truly international and comprehensive. Sure to attract a wide readership, it is an essential purchase.

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