A Western Filmmakers: A Biographical Dictionary of Writers, Directors, Cinematographers, Composers, Actors and Actresses

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9780786437429: A Western Filmmakers: A Biographical Dictionary of Writers, Directors, Cinematographers, Composers, Actors and Actresses
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From High Noon to Unforgiven, the "A" Western represents the pinnacle of Western filmmaking. More intellectual, ambitious, and time-consuming than the readily produced "B" or serial Westerns, these films rely on hundreds of talented artists. This comprehensive reference work provides biographies and Western filmographies for nearly 1,000 men and women who have contributed to at least three "A" Westerns. These contributors are arranged by their role in film production. Cinematographers, composers, actors, actresses, and directors receive complete biographical treatment; writers whose work was used in at least two Westerns are also featured. An appendix lists well-known actors who have appeared in either one or two "A" Westerns, as specified.

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About the Author:

Henryk Hoffmann was born in Poznan, Poland, where he worked as an English teacher, translator and interpreter, and for many years served as Vice-President of the Film Society "Kinematograf' 75". He emigrated to the USA in 1992 and is the author of Western Film Highlights: The Best of the West: 1914-2001 (McFarland, 2003) and Leksykon gwiazd kina amerykanskiego (A Dictionary of American Movie Stars, Agencja Producentow Filmowych, Warsaw, 2006). An active member of the Western Writers of America, he now lives in Pennsylvania, where he teaches Latin and coaches soccer in a boarding school.

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The goal of this work is to "pay homage" to the creative talent behind western film, one of the most popular genres of American cinema. Hoffmann divides his 932 filmmakers into nine categories: original author, screenwriter, director, cinematographer, composer, leading man, leading lady, supporting actor, and supporting actress. He specifically concentrates on "A" westerns, or those that are "intellectual and artistic." To be included, an original author must have a minimum of two "A" westerns based on his or her work, and all other individuals must have a minimum of three "A" westerns to his or her credit.

The nine sections are composed of alphabetically arranged entries for individuals such as those involved with the 1953 classic Shane: writer Jack Schaefer, director George Stevens, cinematographer Loyal Griggs, actors Jean Arthur, Van Heflin, and Alan Ladd, and so on. The leading lights of westerns get their deserved space, but, especially in the "Supporting Actors" and "Supporting Actresses" sections, lesser-knowns get some attention too. Though each entry starts with a quick summary of the person's life and career as a whole, the majority of the discussion concentrates on work in westerns, with a brief assessment of contributions to the genre and a list of western films. Depending on work in westerns, the entries can be short or long. Kevin Costner earns less space than Brian Keith, mainly because of the former acting in fewer relevant films.

Following the entries are lists of major actors who have appeared in just one or two "A" westerns and a bibliography. Overall, this volume is a good addition to literature supporting both western and film studies, though most of the subjects are covered in greater detail in more standard reference works. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.
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