Themed Book Lists

30 Books on Film and Film Culture

From Sidney Lumet to Soviet film posters

October 22, 2013

Updated: February 26, 2014. From Sidney Lumet to Soviet film posters, here are 30 selected books on film and its related culture—graphics, costumes, jewelry, and tell-all biographies—recommended by our designers and other contributors.

Adventures in the Screen Trade William Goldman

Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman's memoir. Among the many screenplays he wrote are those for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President's Men, and Marathon Man.

Against Interpretation Susan Sontag

Susan Sontag's first collection of essays, which established its author as an influential contemporary thinker. Includes the title essay as well as “Notes on Camp,” and provocative discussions covering subjects that include Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone Weil, Jean-Luc Godard, Samuel Beckett, science-fiction movies, psychoanalysis, and contemporary religious thinking. The 2009 edition contains a new afterword by Sontag.

Alfred Hitchcock François Truffaut

In this definitive interview, originally conducted in 1967, legendary director/critic Francois Truffaut probed the mind of Alfred Hitchcock and successfully managed to get the notoriously guarded director to open up as he had never done before. A revealing look at the director’s expansive career, from his early silents to his classic masterpieces.

Alternative Movie Posters Matthew Chojnacki

From the Publisher. Over the years the motion picture industry has (sadly) gravitated to generating poorly cropped and heavily airbrushed posters that rely far too often on celebrity head shots. Thankfully, an underground network of graphic designers and artists has reinvigorated the art of the movie poster, crafting stunning pieces for classic and cult films. Here is the first comprehensive look at the movement, presenting this eclectic and dynamic medium through more than 200 eye-popping posters from over 100 cutting-edge artists, coupled with fascinating commentary and behind-the-scenes information. These new, underground posters have quickly become the most coveted by ardent moviegoers; they are typically produced in very limited runs, sell out within minutes, and command upwards of several hundred dollars each. With a smart, fresh visual perspective, alternative movie posters celebrate classics like Star Wars, A Clockwork Orange, and The Shining as well as cult favorites: The Big Lebowski, Blade Runner, and Pink Flamingos.

The Architecture of Image: Existential Space in Cinema Juhani Pallasmaa

From the Publisher. This book explores the shared experiential ground of cinema, art, and architecture. Pallasmaa carefully examines how the classic directors Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Andrei Tarkovsky used architectural imagery to create emotional states in their movies. He also explores the startling similarities between the landscapes of painting and those of movies.

Cinema 1: The Movement-Image Gilles Deleuze

From the Publisher. A revolutionary work in philosophy and a book about cinema that identifies three principal types of image-movement using examples from the work of a diverse group of filmmakers including Griffith, Eisenstein, Cassavetes, and Altman.

Cinema 2: The Time-Image Gilles Deleuze

From the Publisher. Brings to completion Deleuze’s work on the implications of the cinematographic image. In Cinema 2, Deleuze explains why, since World War II, time has come to dominate film. Among the filmmakers discussed are Rossellini, Fellini, Godard, Resnais, Pasolini, and many others.

Circles of Confusion Hollis Frampton

New American Cinema icon Hollis Frampton's collection of meditative essays explore the history and theory of film and photography.

Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume Design Deborah Nadoolman Landis

“In Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume Design, Academy Award-nominated costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis showcases one hundred years of Hollywood's most tantalizing costumes and the characters they helped bring to life. Drawing on years of extraordinary research, Landis has uncovered both a treasure trove of costume sketches and photographs - many of them previously unpublished - and a dazzling array of first-person anecdotes that inform and enhance the images. Along the way she also provides an eye-opening, behind-the-scenes look at the evolution of the costume designer's art, from its emergence as a key element of cinematic collaboration to its limitless future in the era of CGI.”—Jacket

The Filming of Modern Life Malcolm Turvey

From the Publisher. In the 1920s, the European avant-garde embraced the cinema, experimenting with the medium in radical ways. Painters including Hans Richter and Fernand Leger as well as filmmakers belonging to such avant-garde movements as Dada and surrealism made some of the most enduring and fascinating films in the history of cinema. In The Filming of Modern Life, Malcolm Turvey examines five films from the avant-garde canon and the complex, sometimes contradictory, attitudes toward modernity they express: Rhythm 21 (Hans Richter, 1921), Ballet mecanique (Dudley Murphy and Fernand Léger, 1924), Entr'acte (Francis Picabia and René Clair, 1924), Un chien Andalou (Salvador Dali and Luis Buñuel, 1929), and Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929). All exemplify major trends within European avant-garde cinema of the time, from abstract animation to "cinema pur."

The Filmmaker Says Jamie Thompson Stern

From the Publisher. Inspiring everything from pop culture earthquakes to popular revolutions, filmmakers have demonstrated an uncanny ability to move the masses. But the drama they project on screen is only half the picture. Stretching from its earliest days of two-reel silent films to the latest 3-D digital blockbusters, film history provides a cast of characters ready to spill witty bon mots, outrageous pronouncements, and heartfelt reflections. The Filmmaker Says is a colorful compendium of quotations from more than one hundred of history's most influential and opinionated creators of filmed entertainment. Paired like guests at the ultimate film geek dinner party, a celebrated filmmaker of today might sit next to a giant from the silent era, this raucous crew puts on a show arguing, complimenting, and disagreeing with each other about every step of the moviemaking process. A perfect gift for working filmmakers, aspiring auteurs, and avid moviegoers, The Filmmaker Says will delight anyone who has dreamed of yelling "action" or just can't wait for the lights to go down and the curtain to go up.

Film Posters of the Russian Avant-Garde Susan Pack

From the Publisher. Russian film posters of the 1920s and 1930s bear witness to the artistic creativity of the former Soviet Union in the years before Soviet Realism became the official art doctrine under Stalin. This book represents a survey of these works.

The Film Sense Sergei Eisenstein
Edited and translated by Jay Leyda

Noted Soviet film theorist and director (Battleship Potemkin, Alexander Nevsky, Ivan the Terrible) Sergei Eisenstein (1898-1948), known as the father of montage, explores his ideas on film as an expressive and profound medium. A companion volume is his Film Form (1949).

On list 10 Books from the Paul Rand Library.

Hans Richter, New Living Andres Janser
Arthur Rüegg

From the Publisher. New Living (Das Neue Wohnen) was the title of an exceptional architectural propaganda film created in 1930 by German avant-garde artist and filmmaker Hans Richter. It showcased exemplary modernist buildings and furniture—some of which were on view shortly afterwardin the prestigious exhibitions “The International Style”—and contrasted them with impractical, unhygienic living spaces. The visual diversity of “New Living,” and its use of an experimental montage technique, pioneered a radical new method of portraying architecture on celluloid. This publication includes detailed sequences from the film New Living, as well as numerous documents that illustrate the new style of architectural modernism.

Hollywood Charles Bukowski

From the Publisher. Hank and his wife, Sarah, agree to write a screenplay, and encounter the strange world of the movie industry.

Hollywood Jewels Penny Proddow
Debra Healy
Marion Fasel

From the Publisher. Mary Pickford’s signature pearls . . . Marlene Dietrich’s diamond bracelets . . . Elizabeth Taylor’s dazzling wardrobe of priceless gems. Hollywood has decked its stars in the finest jewels that money could buy, and now these on-screen jewels are linked with those owned by stars in this narrative history of movie jewelry.

Making Movies Sidney Lumet

From the Publisher. From one of America's most acclaimed directors comes a book that is both a professional memoir and a definitive guide to the art, craft, and business of the motion picture. Drawing on 40 years of experience on movies ranging from Long Day's Journey Into Night to The Verdict, Lumet explains the painstaking labor that results in two hours of screen magic.

The Manhattan Transcripts Bernard Tschumi

From the Publisher. A study in four sections—the park, the street, the tower, and the block—of an architectural explanation of reality that endeavors to use cinematographic concepts to tell a story about the main aspects of architecture: space, movement, and events.

My Last Sigh (Mi último suspiro) Luis Buñuel

From the Publisher. A provocative memoir from Luis Buñuel, the Academy Award winning creator of some of modern cinema's most important films, from Un Chien Andalou to The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.

Luis Buñuel’s films have the power to shock, inspire, and reinvent our world. Now, in a memoir that carries all the surrealism and subversion of his cinema, Buñuel turns his artistic gaze inward. In swift and generous prose, Buñuel traces the surprising contours of his life, from the Good Friday drumbeats of his childhood to the dreams that inspired his most famous films to his turbulent friendships with Federico García Lorca and Salvador Dalí. His personal narratives also encompass the pressing political issues of his time, many of which still haunt us today—the specter of fascism, the culture wars, the nuclear bomb. Filled with film trivia, framed by Buñuel’s intellect and wit, this is essential reading for fans of cinema and for anyone who has ever wanted to see the world through a surrealist’s eyes.

Notes on the Cinematographer Robert Bresson

From the Publisher. Robert Bresson's Notes on the Cinematographer consists of working memos that the great French director made for his own use. In all of them, Bresson reflects with a craftsman's insight on techniques and their philosophical and aesthetic implications. Not surprisingly, these acute reflections will not only sharpen a filmmaker's sensibility but that of any artist in any medium. Bresson makes some quite radical distinctions between what he terms "cinematography" and something quite different: "cinema"—which is for him nothing but an attempt to photograph theater and use it for the screen.

Paul R. Williams: Classic Hollywood Style Karen E. Hudson

From the Publisher. Over a career spanning six decades, architect Paul Revere Williams came to define what gracious living looked like for the Hollywood elite. Williams mastered an array of architectural idioms—including American Colonial, Spanish Mediterranean, English Tudor, French Normandy, Art Deco, and, of course, the California ranch style—to create the sophisticated yet understated showplaces that are featured here in all new full-color photography.Among the most celebrated architects of his generation, Williams was also the first African-American member of the American Institute of Architects, and he was deeply involved in the black community in Los Angeles and in African-American affairs nationally. Williams moved among many worlds, and with celebrity clients such as Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Tyrone Power, and Barbara Stanwyck, as well as clients who made Hollywood run behind the scenes, not to mention members of Los Angeles high society, Williams left his mark in the city’s most glamorous and exclusive enclaves—Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Bel Air, and the Hollywood Hills. Paul R. Williams: Classic Hollywood Style is a dazzling tour of this prolific architect’s most spectacular houses, by his granddaughter Karen Hudson, with a special focus on their roles not only as places for high living but also as venues for world-class entertaining.  

On Architecture, Film and Art Christine Bechtler

From the Publisher. The American artist Sarah Morris talks with the curator Hans Ulrich Obrist about her films and paintings, which explore buildings, cities and structures and centers of power. The focus of the conversation is her longtime interest in urban developments, architecture and architects like Philip Johnson, Mies van der Rohe, Robert Venturi, and many others.

The Power of Glamour Virginia Postrel

From the Publisher. In provocative detail with more than 100 illustrations, critically acclaimed author Virginia Postrel separates glamour from glitz, revealing what qualities make a person, an object, a setting, or an experience glamorous. What is it that creates that pleasurable pang of desire—the feeling of “if only”? If only I could wear those clothes, belong to that group, drive that car, live in that house, be (or be with) that person? Postrel identifies the three essential elements in all forms of glamour and explains how they work to create a distinctive sensation of projection and yearning. From vacation brochures to military recruiting ads, from the Chrysler Building to the iPad, from political utopias to action heroines, Postrel argues that glamour is a seductive cultural force. Its magic stretches beyond the stereotypical spheres of fashion or film, influencing our decisions about what to buy, where to live, which careers to pursue, where to invest, and how to vote. The result is myth shattering: a revelatory theory that explains how glamour became a powerful form of nonverbal persuasion, one that taps into our most secret dreams and deepest yearnings to influence our everyday choices.


RAN: Original Storyboards Akira Kurosawa

Translation by Tadashi Shishido of original screenplay and storyboards for Kurosawa’s film adaptation of King Lear, which he sets in 16th-century Japan and which won an Academy Award.

Raymond Cauchetier: Photos De Cinema Marc Vernet

From Arcana: Books on the Arts. The definitive photography album of the nouvelle vague. In 1959 Cauchetier was hired as the on-set photographer for Godard's first film, A Bout de Souffle. He captured numerous pivotal and famous moments while on-set. Cauchetier differed from other on-set photographers, he took a more photojournalistic approach. Instead of capturing moments that would be good for publicizing the film, he photographed the actors and directors behind the scenes.

Revolutionary Soviet Film Posters Mildred Constantine
Alan Fern
Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design Pat Kirkham
Jennifer Bass

From the Publisher. The first book to be published on one of the greatest American designers of the 20th century, who was as famous for his work in film as for his corporate identity and graphic work. Saul Bass (1920–96) created some of the most compelling images of American postwar visual culture. Having extended the remit of graphic design to include film titles, he went on to transform the genre. His best-known works include a series of unforgettable posters and title sequences for films such as Alfred Hitchcock‘s Vertigo and Otto Preminger’s The Man with the Golden Arm and Anatomy of a Murder. He also created some of the most famous logos and corporate identity campaigns of the century, including those for major companies such as AT&T, Quaker Oats, United Airlines and Minolta.

His wife and collaborator, Elaine, joined the Bass office in the late 1950s. Together they created an impressive series of award-winning short films, including the Oscar-winning Why Man Creates, as well as an equally impressive series of film titles, ranging from Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus in the early 1960s to Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear and Casino in the 1990s.

Designed by Saul Bass’s daughter Jennifer and written by distinguished design historian Pat Kirkham, who knew Saul Bass, this book contains more than 1,400 illustrations, many from the Bass archive and never published before, providing an in-depth account of one of the leading graphic artists of the 20th century. Includes foreword by Martin Scorsese.

Syrie Maugham: Staging the Glamorous Interior Pauline Metcalf

From the Publisher. Trendsetter, fashion icon, and wife of an internationally renowned novelist, the interior designer Syrie Maugham (1879–1955) created an ultra-chic world that was as unique as it was influential. Her ethereal all-white rooms of the 1920s and 30s were echoed in high-style interiors around the world and translated into sets for movies and theatrical productions. Much of the look we associate with the Hollywood glamour of the time owes its simple elegance to Maugham’s pared-down aesthetic. Syrie Maugham celebrates the work of this legendary British designer in the first comprehensive study of her dramatic life and meteoric career.

Author Pauline C. Metcalf takes readers on a lively transatlantic voyage through Maugham's world, from the drawing rooms she decorated in London to the houses, villas, and apartments commissioned by clients in the United States and on the Continent. With over 250 photographs and illustrations, Syrie Maugham also profiles the designer's international clientele, a rarified group that included British royals, European aristocrats, American socialites, and Broadway stars. In Maugham's blend of traditional refinement and the Style Moderne, with occasional Surrealist flourish—console tables floating on dolphin bases, fringed sleigh beds, sheepskin rugs, and miles of mirrored screens—this cosmopolitan beau monde discovered a perfect expression of café-society chic.


Talking Pictures Ellen Graham

From the Publisher. Talking Pictures brings together over 200 black and white images culled from Ellen Graham’s work for such magazines as People and Time, her personal archives, and her collection of family photographs. Each photograph is accompanied by a personal narrative that takes you behind the scenes of these celebrated images and breathes life into the glamour of Hollywood’s golden age. Each portrait captures a rare and unguarded moment in the lives of these highly-photographed stars, giving a truly intimate and fresh look at such legendary figures as Frank Sinatra, Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty, and Prince Albert of Monaco. Whether shooting actors, performers, or European royalty, Graham redefines the resonating myths that have come to surround these iconic characters.

The Wes Anderson Collection Matt Zoller Seitz

From the Publisher. Wes Anderson is one of the most influential voices from the past two decades of American cinema. A true auteur, Anderson is known for the visual artistry, inimitable tone, and idiosyncratic characterizations that make each of his films—Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Moonrise Kingdom—instantly recognizable as “Andersonian.” The Wes Anderson Collection is the first in-depth overview of Anderson’s filmography, guiding readers through his life and career. Previously unpublished photos, artwork, and ephemera complement a book-length conversation between Anderson and award-winning critic Matt Zoller Seitz. The interview and images are woven together in a meticulously designed book that captures the spirit of his films: melancholy and playful, wise and childish—and thoroughly original.

Also see our interview with the book’s designer, “The World of Wes: Designing the Wes Anderson Collection.”

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