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The Spectator: Talk About Movies and Plays With the People Who Make Them


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ISBN 10: 1565845536 / ISBN 13: 9781565845534
Published by The New Press, New York, 1999
From Main Street Fine Books & Mss, ABAA (Galena, IL, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Introduction by Garry Wills. Small 4to. Blue paper over boards with gilt spine lettering, pictorial dust jacket. xv, 364pp. Fine/fine. A tight, superb first edition of this thick collection of Terkel's interviews with film folks, inscribed and signed by him huge and bold in black marker on the title page: "to Doug -- / Studs Terkel.". Bookseller Inventory # 38139

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Spectator: Talk About Movies and Plays ...

Publisher: The New Press, New York

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


The Studs Terkel Interviews: Film and Theater collects the Pulitzer Prize winning oral historian’s remarkable conversations with some of the greatest luminaries of film and theater. Originally published under the title The Spectator, this knowledgeable and perceptive” (Library Journal) look at show business presents the actors directors, playwrights, dancers, lyricists, and others who created the dramatic works of the twentieth century.

Among the many highlights in these pages, Buster Keaton explains the wonders of unscripted silent comedy, Federico Fellini reflects on honesty in art, Carol Channing reveals that she is far more serious than she lets on, and Marlon Brando turns the tables and wants to interview Terkel. We learn about crucial artistic decisions in the lives of Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, and Edward Albee and hear from a range of film directors, from Vittorio De Sica and King Vidor to Satyajit Ray. We even get to witness Terkel playing straight man to a wildly inventive Zero Mostel. Because Terkel knows his subjects’ work intimately, he asks precisely the right questions to elicit the most revealing responses. As the New York Times Book Review noted, Terkel’s knowledge and force of personality make him fully a player alongside his famous guests.”


In earlier oral histories such as Working, The Good War, and Hard Times, Studs Terkel showed a virtuoso talent for absorbing the small talk of regular Joes and Janes and turning it into a literary cross-hatch--Robert Browning and Herodotus, Margaret Mead and Steinbeck. It turns out all this was prologue. In The Spectator, Terkel reveals that if he loved the waitresses and hockey players of earlier books, it wasn't in "the way, nor to the same degree, as those in the world of the lively arts." You can tell, reading this book. The Terkel touch is all here, but in 50-plus interviews with the likes of Buster Keaton and Marlon Brando, James Cagney, Simone Signoret, Jacques Tati, and (weirdly) Arnold Schwarzenegger, it's Studs's range that astonishes. He has textured memories of remote stage productions of Arthur Miller's plays--which you might expect. But when he remembers Kanchenjungha with the Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray, Ray laughs out loud: "Where did you see that?" There are lovely little fender benders, too: in a basement apartment in Paris in 1963, Simone Signoret extravagantly praises Françoise Rosay and Agnes de Mille, characters we know from earlier chapters--de Mille especially. A choreographer who brought ballet to Broadway musicals, she explains that African rhythms and English clog dancing married to beget tap; with a shift from up to down beat, she says, "syncopation and jazz were born." Reading The Spectator, you marvel once again at Terkel's facility with people of all kinds--and his deep familiarity with the American century. --Lyall Bush

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Main Street Fine Books & Manuscripts has been buying and selling quality books, autographs and ephemera since 1991. We specialize in general antiquarian, first editions, signed books and autographs and documents. We are members of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA), Midwest Antiquarian Booksellers Association (MWABA), Universal Autograph Collectors Club (UACC) and The Manuscript Society.

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