Monday, June 14, 2010

Four-Star Movies

Four-Star Movies: The 101 Greatest Films of All Time by Gail Kinn and Jim Piazza
Hardcover: 324 pages
Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-1579123154
highly recommended

A lavishly illustrated, fact-filled celebration of the 101 movies that have changed our lives.

My Thoughts:

The movies Kinn and Piazza selected for their 101 Greatest Films of All Time cover a wide range of films. Each entry has a lot of information, including: the films ranking, a picture of the poster for the film, a plot summary, introductory comments about the film (including comments from both authors), photos, information about the director, a list of the cast, information about the main actors, film credits, academy award information (nominations for the film and the winners for that year), the great scene of the movie, a memorable quote from the movie, tidbits of information "Behind the Screen," a few choice quotes from critics, notable quotes from the actors, and if the film is included on nine other lists. As I said, it's a lot of information. It was also interesting and visually appealing.

Unfortunately the book needed better editing as there are also quite a few typos. I didn't flag all the spelling errors, but an easy one to find is in the authors comments about Star Wars where Obi Wan Kenobi is spelled "Kenobe." (Hey, even spell check wants to correct that to Kenobi.) There are also some factual errors. In the Star Wars comments about director George Lucas is this: "22 years later he made his comeback with Star Wars: Episode 1, The Empire Strikes Back." (pg. 169) Well, as we all know that should be Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace. Another factual error was when Kinn crediting Larry Gelbart with writing M*A*S*H in her comments (pg 249). He wrote the TV show. The actual writer of the movie, Ring Lardner, Jr. is listed in the credits section for the movie as the writer of the screen play and an academy award winner for M*A*S*H.

Obviously, this certainly isn't a definitive guide to the movies included. But setting aside typos and a few factual errors, it really is a fun book to read. It was interesting to see the 101 films chosen for their list and read why. It might be fun to see what my top 100 list would be. I know I wouldn't pick some of the films Kinn and Piazza did, but many would be on both lists. During a recent excursion to our local used book store, Just Me found this in the clearance section. It was worth the $2 we paid for it and I enjoyed reading it. Recommended, highly if you can overlook the errors


Compiling a definitive "Best List" is an audacious act - it's what separated mere movie-lovers from downright cinemaniacs. It requires endurance, Machiavellian negotiating skills, and the willingness to lose your best friends.....
Our particular narrowing-down of the universe of great films may seem arbitrary; but there is a reason behind every decision, whether or not you instantly agree. Introduction

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