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Watching them be : star presence on the screen from Garbo to Balthazar

by Harvey, James, 1929-2020

Format: Print Book 2014
Availability: Available at 1 Library 1 of 1 copy
Available (1)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Main Library Second Floor - Non-fiction PN1998.2.H425 2014
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Second Floor - Non-fiction
Call Number  PN1998.2.H425 2014

An intimate, thought-provoking exploration of the mysteries of "star presence" in cinema

"One does not go to see them act," James Baldwin wrote about the great iconic movie stars, "one goes to watch them be." It seems obvious . . . Where else besides the movies do you get to see other persons so intimately, so pressingly, so largely? Where else are you allowed such sustained and searching looks as you give to these strangers on the screen, whoever they really are? In life you try not to stare; but at the movies that's exactly what you get to do, two hours or more--safely, raptly, even blissfully.

It's this sort of amplified, heightened, sometimes transcendent "seeing" that James Harvey explores in Watching Them Be . Marvelously vivid and perceptive, and impressively erudite, this is his take on how aura is communicated in movies. Beginning where Roland Barthes left off with the face of Greta Garbo and ending with Robert Bresson's Au hasard Balthazar (and its inscrutable nonhuman star), Harvey moves nimbly and expertly through film history, celebrating actors and directors who have particularly conveyed a feeling of transcendence.
From Marlene Dietrich to John Wayne to Robert De Niro, from Nashville to Jackie Brown to Masculine/Feminine and the implicitly or explicitly religious films of Roberto Rossellini and Carl Theodor Dreyer, this is one man's personal, deeply felt account of the films that have changed his life. They will also, Harvey suggests, change yours.

Dietrich and Sternberg
Bergman and Selznick
Wayne and Ford
Davis and Wyler
Charles Laughton
Robert De Niro
Altman's Nashville
Jackie Brown and others
Godard's closeups
Transcenders. Bergman and Rossellini
Dreyer's heroines

Published Reviews
Publisher's Weekly Review: "In this sometimes tedious, sometimes brilliant, but mostly uneven book, film critic Harvey (Movie Love in the Fifties) takes up James Baldwin's comment-"One does not go to see them act, one goes to watch them be"-and embarks on a chronicle of film history seen through this lens. Part film aesthetics and part personal reflection, Harvey's book covers "icons" like Greta Garbo and John Wayne, through "realists" like Robert DeNiro and Robert Altman's "Nashville", to "transcenders" like Ingrid Bergman and Robert Bresson's "Balthazar". On watching Quentin Tarantino's "Jackie Brown", Harvey observes, for example, that "the enforced intimacy you have with [faces in the movies] subsumes almost everything else going on." Harvey luminously reflects on De Niro's presence in "Once Upon a Time in America": "De Niro all but holds this massive movie together not only by his acting but by his presence and intensity." On Garbo: "Her fame was inseparable from her riddle.Garbo seemed to have taken [her secret] into the movies." Whether you agree with Harvey or not, his book does drive you to watch the films he discusses once again or for the first time. (July) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."

Additional Information
Subjects Motion picture actors and actresses -- United States -- Biography.
Publisher New York :2014
Edition First edition.
Language English
Description xiii, 380 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 361-363) and index.
ISBN 9780571211975 (hardcover)
0571211976 (hardcover)
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