Another year, another round of classic film-related summer reading. Luckily my new apartment has a lovely balcony and front yard so I will finally have a cozy place to enjoy the summer weather while reading all about classic films. With a special focus on book-to-movie adaptations and early Hollywood filmmaking, here are the six books I’ll be reading for the 2023 Classic Film Reading Challenge:
Empire of Dreams: The Epic Life of Cecil B. DeMille
I’ve recently started volunteering at the Hollywood Heritage Museum which is housed in the barn where DeMille shot his first movie in early 1914. Wanting to have the best possible amount of knowledge on the subject and being a big fan of DeMille’s lavish epics, I’ll be reading Scott Eyman’s extensive biography of DeMille. A charismatic and eclectic personality, I’m excited to get into DeMille’s life while catching up on the dozens of films he made over four decades in Hollywood.
I always love hearing filmmakers’ opinions on classic cinema. So naturally I’ll have to read a big-name director’s personal journey through classic films. Tarantino has always been really great about highlighting lesser-known films that other critics and filmmakers might not be willing to touch so I’m looking forward to hearing his personal thoughts about the films he grew up on and finding a couple of hidden gems from the era as well.
All Quiet on the Western Front
After watching the most recent German film adaptation I decided it was high time to read the classic 1929 novel by Erich Maria Remarque. The original 1930 film has always been a favorite of mine so I expect to thoroughly enjoy the novel as well. I’ll also be diving into how the book compares to the three film adaptations (1930, 1979, and 2022).
Filming the West of Zane Grey
For the last two summer reading challenges I’ve read a Zane Grey novel that was adapted to the screen multiple times, first Riders of the Purple Sage in 2021 and Heritage of the Desert last year. This year I wanted to zoom out a bit and learn more about the dozens of classic film adaptations Grey’s work garnered and how his work solidified the Western genre onscreen.
How Motion Pictures Are Made
Written in 1918 by a future novelist and occasional scriptwriter Homer Croy, How Motion Pictures Are Made seems like a promising window into the lost world of silent movie Hollywood with chapters ranging from How Trick Pictures Are Made, Talking Pictures, and Motion Pictures at the Bottom of the Ocean. With plenty of on-set pictures and stills from the era, I’m ready to dive in and hope that most of the films discussed have managed to survive.
But Have You Read the Book?
A couple of months ago I won a free copy from the great Ticklish Business team in a random drawing on Twitter for Kristen Lopez’s new TCM Classics book. I’ve seen half of the 52 films covered in the book so I’ll be saving this one for last to allow me plenty of time to catch up on many of the films. I’m not quite sure how I haven’t seen Wuthering Heights or The Shining yet but now is my chance to correct these personal oversights!
Feel free to sign up yourself for the 2023 Classic Film Reading Challenge at Raquel Stecher’s blog Out of the Past. The challenge runs from May 15th to September 15th.
Make sure to come back throughout the summer for my reviews posted on the site. You can also subscribe below to get my six forthcoming book reviews straight to your inbox: