The Classic Movies Bookstore


The Classic Movies Bookstore

Welcome to the Classic Movies Bookstore. If you find something you like, click the title or the cover photo to get more information and to purchase the book at Once you get to, you can use the search box on each page to search for other books (or anything else) you’re interested in. At the bottom of this page, you’ll find links to listings of books about various actors, actresses, and directors, as well as a link to a page with even more (unreviewed) movie-related books.

If you know of a book that isn’t included here, and you’d like to write a brief, 2-sentence review, just send it along by email, and tell us how you’d like to be identified, and we’ll print your review, along with a link to

Books by John Howard Reid
John Howard Reid is a widely acknowledged expert on Hollywood movies, with many titles available in print or on Kindle, such as Mystery, Suspense, Film Noir and Detective Movies on DVD: A Guide to the Best in Cinema Thrills. In addition, he is the creator of the Merryll Manning detective series, published from 1985 through 2001. Reid’s historical novels, especially In All His Glory (set in Ancient Egypt), have also won wide acclaim. His short stories and poems have gained many prizes and commendations.

John Howard Reid’s award winning book Mystery Suspense Film Noir and Detective Movies – $3.99 Kindle

75 Years of the Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards
by Robert Osborne
For Oscar, there is one essential reference work, and it just had its latest update last year. Enjoy 725 photos, 60 in color, including stills and posters, included in this 408-page compendium. Highly recommended for every movie fan. Hardcover.

The Academy Awards Handbook
by John Harkness
A handy listing of all the Oscar nominees and winners over the years, plus great information about the selection process (it’s probably not what you think) and how you can win your local newspaper’s Oscar derby or your office’s Oscar pool next time around.

Alan Arkin – an improvised life
a memoir by Alan Arkin
A wonderfully entertaining autobiographical offering by the Oscar-winning actor, director, musician and author. For both Alan Arkin fans and people who are involved in a life in the theatre. Enjoy this book trailer on YouTube.

Blessings in Disguise
by Alec Guinness
Reading this book does nothing to convince me that Sir Alec Guinness wasn’t one of our greatest actors, and certainly, as the title implies, at his best when doing character work. His writing style is literate and readable, and the story itself is fascinating. Paperback.

The Chaplin Encyclopedia
by Glenn Mitchell
David Pierce of Silent Film Sources calls this a “reference book you’re likely to actually use… a cornucopia of interesting facts, trivia and analysis of Charlie Chaplin and his films.” He says the book “discusses Chaplin’s films and his co-workers, with a special emphasis on how the films were influenced by his upbringing and music hall career.” (Trafalgar Square) Trade Paperback.

Classic Movie Companion
by Robert Moses (Editor)
He’s the former editor of the American Movie Classics (AMC) monthly magazine (may it rest in peace). The book includes over 4,000 movies made during the 50-year period between the stock market crash and the end of the 70s. Lots of info and dozens of photos. A good reference work for people who don’t care to know anything about films made after 1979.

Crying at Movies
by John Manderino
A memoir that movie fans (particularly those who grew up in the 50s and 60s) will love, consisting of 38 separate chapters, each blending a story from the author’s life with a specific movie. Each chapter is a short story or short-short story, and by the end you have a strong picture of the crucial role movies have played in the life of Mr. Manderino, who is a novelist, writing teacher and editor, currently living in Maine and working on a new novel.

The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock
by Donald Spoto
For many Alfred Hitchcock fans, the only important thing is that he created Psycho, The Birds, North by Northwest, Vertigo, Spellbound, etc. They’re not particularly interested in his childhood obsessions. However, if you’re not one of those people, this book is for you. It’s a fascinating biography that reveals what may be the source of his genius, or at least some contributing factors. Paperback.

The Films of Shirley Temple
by Robert Windeler
This large format book is divided into a complete biography of Shirley Temple up to the late 1970s and a detailed filmography. Both sections, which are filled with nearly 400 pictures off and on screen, will delight fans. A definitive reference for source film material and pictures. Trade Paperback (Thanks to Leighton West)

Frank Sinatra: An American Legend 1915-1998
by Nancy Sinatra
The author is Frank Sinatra‘s number one fan, defender, and biographer — his daughter, Nancy. It’s filled with great information, like a family scrapbook, with countless quotes from friends and associates, 400 b&w and color photographs, and plenty of comments from the Chairman himself. This fascinating and fact-filled coffee table book is an essential volume for all Sinatra fans. Hardcover.

The Great Movies
by Roger Ebert
A collection of reviews of 100 key classic films, all of which appear on Roger’s Sun Times Web site. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a big fan of his reviews, and I was even before he said nice things about my site!

Hail, Hail, Euphoria!: Presenting the Marx Brothers in Duck Soup, the Greatest War Movie Ever Made – by Roy Blount Jr.
Humorist Roy Blount Jr. takes you through the most famous scenes of the movie, starring Groucho Marx as Rufus Firefly, the leader of Freedonia, who pushes the nation into bankruptcy and war with the assistance and resistance of his brothers Harpo as Pinky, Chico as Chicolini, and Zeppo as Lieutenant Bob Roland. You’ll enjoy the stories behind this iconic film and the careers of the Marx Brothers, director Leo McCarey, and frequent costar and Groucho foil Margaret Dumont.

The Hollywood History of the World
by George MacDonald Fraser
We’ve learned a large chunk of what we “know” about history from watching Hollywood films. The question is whether or not that’s a good thing. According to George Fraser, it probably is. This profusely illustrated history of the world according to the movies is fascinating and readable. Paperback. (Limited availability)

by Francois Truffaut
A book length interview of Alfred Hitchcock by Francois Truffaut himself. The two directors discuss Hitchcock’s major films in depth and talk about how each one was made. Truffaut asks fascinating questions from a filmmaker’s perspective, but he also asks the questions that movie fans love to ask. You could tell he loved Hitch’s films. Trade Paperback. (Thanks to Komrade.)

Hugh Martin: The Boy Next Door
by Hugh Martin
For anyone interested in the history of Broadway and the golden age of Hollywood, Hugh Martin’s The Boy Next Door is a must. Mr. Martin, composer of such great hits as “The Trolley Song” (nominated for an Oscar) and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” is a legend in the entertainment industry. He was close friends with many of the greats in show business, including Judy Garland and Gene Kelly. He was Judy Garland’s accompianist in her first triumph at the Palace in New York, andh was the vocal arranger on many of the great MGM musicals of the 40s and 50s. His life has been an adventure we can all share through this wonderful book. At 96 years old, he is still going strong, having recently written a song about Thanksgiving. (Guest review.)

Inside Oscar: The Unofficial History of the Academy Awards
by Mason Wiley and Damien Bona
An extremely entertaining, comprehensive, detail-packed overview of every Oscar ceremony from the first in 1927-28 through the most recent update in 1996, with backstage gossip, couture details, Hollywood politics, and quotes from old trade magazines and studio ads. There’s a nicely organized nominations section in the back, plus fascinating tidbits about first nominations, multiple winners, multiple losers, and movies that were eligible for nominations but failed to receive them. Great for browsing, or for reading straight through. Trade Paperback (Thanks to Ellen Ciompi.)

Leonard Maltin’s Movie & Video Guide 2004
Edited by Leonard Maltin
If you’re caught without a computer and can’t make it to the Internet Movie Database (which includes Leonard Maltin’s bios of stars, among other things), this guide is the next best thing. Maltin is a film historian and critic whose current reviews are available in print and on TV. But this guide goes back to the beginning of the movie business, and includes ratings, plot summaries, year of release, video/DVD availability, director, actors, running time, and more. His essay entitled “50 Movies You Really Ought to See” is worth reading, too.

The Little Rascals: The Life And Times Of Our Gang
by Leonard Maltin and Richard W. Bann
A new edition of a 1977 book by Maltin and Bann. Infinitely superior because of the added information and some really outstanding photos among the 397 in the book. Includes detailed information on every film, and updated data on cast members. Trade Paperback. (Thanks to Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.)

Marlene Dietrich
by her daughter, Maria Riva
I think it was Kenneth Tynan who said that Dietrich had sex but not gender, and that opinion is confirmed in detail in this book. Intercontinental romance, high finance, WWII politics, the transition from silents to talkies, and all sorts of name dropping abound in this detailed look back at La Dietrich by her daughter, who was there. Great photo sections, too. Trade Paperback. (Thanks to Ellen Ciompi)

Mob Culture: Hidden Histories Of The American Gangster Film
Edited by Lee Grieveson, Esther Sonnet, and Peter Stanfield
A fresh look at the American gangster film from the silent to contemporary periods, including the Black Hand gangs of the early twentieth century, Asian gangsters in Chinatown, the first cycle of black screen gangsters and blaxploitation cinema, and Italian mobs, including The Sopranos. These film scholars depart from traditional approaches that have typically focused on the “nature” of the gangster. Paperback.

My Name Escapes Me: The Diary of a Retiring Actor
by Alec Guinness
Alec Guinness‘ private journals kept from 1995 to 1996 reveal his private side, which is not often seen in a great character actor like Sir Alec. His writing is enjoyable, witty, and even surprising at times, though certainly not at all scandalous. Paperback.

Maureen O’Sullivan: A Bio-Bibliography
by Connie J. Billips
This exhaustive work (priced accordingly, too) contains just about everything you’d ever want to know about Ms. O’Sullivan, mate to Tarzan and mother to Mia, including a couple of short stories from The Ladies’ Home Journal. There’s a biography and filmography, of course, plus reviews, bibliography, and more. Hardcover.

The Parade’s Gone By
by Kevin Brownlow
A terrific book about the silent movie period, based mainly on first person interviews. Includes all of the great American directors and stars, who reveal what it was like to make films at a time when they were actually creating the art. Filled with fun facts about how they did those amazing stunts and crowd scenes. Trade Paperback. (Thanks to Komrade.)

Round up the Usual Suspects: The Making of Casablanca – Bogart, Bergman, & World War II
by Aljean Harmetz
According to Billy Wilder, this book is “terrific… required reading for anyone who is in movies or loves movies.” Not just a book about a movie, but a story about Hollywood and World War II. With almost 100 photos and reproductions of some original documents about the film. Hardcover.

Screen Savers: 40 Remarkable Movies Awaiting Rediscovery
by John DiLeo
This highly readable but very thorough volume focuses on 40 excellent but underrated movies, mostly from the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s, plus a few more recent works — most of them by well-known directors or starring actors film buffs will know — including titles such as Cover Girl,They Came to Cordura, Portrait of Jennie, The Seventh Cross, Hail the Conquering Hero and The Lusty Men. Far from just a collection of reviews, the book sets the historical context for the films and discusses reasons why the movies may have been overlooked. The author has done a great job of identifying films that even the biggest fan may have missed, and indicating where they can be found, if at all.

Sinatra: Ol’ Blue Eyes Remembered
by David Hanna
This slim but information-packed and profusely illustrated hardcover volume is a quick trip through the life and career of the Chairman of the Board. Hardcover.

Singin’ in the Rain, BFI Film Classics Series
by Peter Wollen
Peter Wollen looks at Singin’ in the Rain not only as a great musical, but also as a milestone in the growth of dance and a movie with a viewpoint on McCarthyism. He spends a lot of time talking about the key dance number in the film, analyzing it from beginning to end. Includes an extensive bibliography, with annotations. Paperback.

Speed of Sound: Hollywood & the Talkie Revolution, 1926-1930
by Scott Eyman
This fascinating 432-page volume takes an in-depth look at the most revolutionary period in film history so far. Not just a question of sound vs. no sound, the advent of the talkie literally changed everything about the way films were made. Trade Paperback.

Tender Comrades: A Backstory of the Hollywood Blacklist
by Patrick McGilligan and Paul Buhle
Thoughtful and in-depth interviews with blacklisted artists about how their lives were changed during the McCarthy period. Hardcover. (Thanks to Tom Manoff.)

Tennessee Williams and Company: His Essential Screen Actors – by John DiLeo
John DiLeo’s new book focuses on the eleven actors who appear in more than one of Tennessee Williams’ movies, an unofficial stock company of repeat players. Marlon Brando and Geraldine Page, should come as no surprise, since they had performed roles by Williams on the stage. Others, such as Anna Magnani and Vivien Leigh, both foreign-born, could hardly have been foreseeable as brilliant interpreters of such a distinctly American writer. Also included are the two most famous screen-acting couples of Williams Hollywood heyday: Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, and Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

The Three Stooges Scrapbook
by Jeff Lenburg, Joan Howard Maurer and Greg Lenburg
There have been scads and scads of books written about the love-’em-or-you-don’t comedy trio, but this 1985 book is by far the best and most inclusive. Trade Paperback. (Thanks to Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.)

Vivien: The Life of Vivien Leigh
by Alexander Walker
One of the most recent biographies of Vivien Leigh and also one which treats her more gently than others have. There is quite a bit of material about her marriage to Sir Larry, including material from his autobiography. Paperback.
The author has also written biographies of Audrey Hepburn, Bette

Davis, Stanley Kubrick, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marlene Dietrich, among others.

Books By Or About Selected Stars & Directors

(Not reviewed or annotated)

Woody AllenJulie AndrewsLouis Armstrong

Jean Arthur

Lauren Bacall

Lucille Ball

Brigitte Bardot

Humphrey Bogart

Marlon Brando

James Cagney

Frank Capra

Charlie Chaplin

Gary Cooper

Joan Crawford

Bette Davis

Doris Day

James Dean

Marlene Dietrich

Walt Disney

Henry Fonda

Clark Gable

Greta Garbo

John Garfield

Judy Garland

Cary Grant

Alec Guinness

Jean Harlow

Rita HayworthKatharine HepburnCharlton Heston

Alfred Hitchcock

Bob Hope

John Huston

Buster Keaton

Burt Lancaster

Vivien Leigh

Little Rascals

Sophia Loren

The Marx Brothers

Marilyn Monroe

Jack Nicholson

Tyrone Power

Vincent Price

Anthony Quinn

Debbie Reynolds

Ginger Rogers

Frank Sinatra

Barbara Stanwyck

Elizabeth Taylor

Shirley Temple

Spencer Tracy

John Wayne

Loretta Young

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