Essential Directors And Dark City Book Reviews

Being there . . . . integrally involved with four of America’s definitive resources for the greatest feature-length films of all time, Sloan De Forest, Eddie Muller, and their TCM-Running Press masterworks – – two books that entertain, enlighten, and show how the entire spectrum of classic movies, their history, and imaginative makings affect us all, influencing how we think, value, and live.


Reviewed, and Highly Recommended by Don DeNevi

Two efficacious new TCM-Running Press books illustrate how yesterday’s motion picture creating pioneers cut the path for today’s Golden Age of Cinematic Art, and tomorrow’s better classics . . . .

The Essential Directors

“ESSENTIAL DIRECTORS – – The Art and Impact of Cinema’s Most Influential Filmmakers,”

by Sloan De Forest; Forewords by Peter Bogdanovich and Jacqueline Stewart. Turner Classic Movies-Hachette Book Group: 325 pages, sc; $25.99. See: and

Dark City Book Review

“DARK CITY – – The Lost World of Film Noir”, revised and expanded edition, by Eddie Muller. Running Press-Hachette Book Group: 262 pages, hc, $30. See: and

“Today’s Thought”

Sent by Trudy, Stockton, Calif., ‘Daily Record’, Movies, page 16, Sept.14,1912

Oh, to sit beautifully for

One brief hour

In the Esquire or Sierra,

Ritz or Rialto,

El Dorado or Star

As does a wayside flower,

Bravely stemming the wind

and beating rain,

Bowing and lifting again,

Yielding some fragrance down

The paths I know,

A little while . . . then go.”

Thank you, Trudy, whoever you were, to your Ode to Celluloid, actors, storylines, and the theatres the “silent” were shown in. Surely, Carl Sandburg echoed your feelings and words when he wrote, “Anything that brings you to tears by way of drama does something to the deepest roots of your personality. Movies of that quality can provide insights into personal problems. They can teach you about yourself.”

Apropos of such heartfelt emotion, authors Sloan De Forest and Eddie Muller in their respective bold and endearingly living words of appreciation of cinema as art, each write in his own narrative manner, after researching such concepts, i.e., “A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet.”

Whether wise and far-sighted, or tired and empty as Trudy was in 1912, the point is the same. Death is not the potential assassin. The real threat to life is the moral and spiritual condition of Man. To transubstantiate one’s life into something of value, something alive and less fleeting, is the greatest of dilemmas. Yet, for those who fear the death of the heart, a way lies open, which, of course, Trudy and Sandburg knew. Fortunately for us, so do Sloan and Eddie. Their proof: “Essential Directors–The Art and Impact of Cinema’s Most Influential Filmmakers” and “Dark City – The Lost World of Film Noir.”

Either overt, between, underneath, or behind the words of every sentence, every chapter in each of these brilliant texts, De Forest and Muller argue that more than any form of expression of communication, cinema has the greatest potential for delighting, involving, creating, motivating, and teaching. Because life somehow can become more real if the camera is used to portray a loving or dramatic encounter, the story and its filming can’t help but enhance a viewer’s awareness and understanding of the world, its human experiences, and values. And, because cinema involves all the senses, it can powerfully teach kindness, gentleness, understanding, forgiveness, goodness, love, speaking on behalf of life, and that the greatest evils facing the individual are emptiness, a cold heart, no ideas, nothing to live for other than to harm, and that soon, inevitably, ushers in merciless death at the hands of the antithesis assassin.

In short, Turner Classic Movies has invited Sloan and Eddie to write what about they have lived and loved all their lives – – please turn the lights off, leave me alone for an hour or so, allow me to deal with my own many mysterious forces demanding, nay, screaming for release, those darn imaginations, and dreams. Like Shakespeare’s Edmund, “I pant for life. Some good I mean to do despite mine own nature.”

Read “Essential Directors” and “Dark City” carefully, slowly, readers, savoring every word, that is, if you, too, “pant for life”. Within their combined 600 pages are unimaginable lessons to learn, then teach to others to lead the way past our current Golden Age of Cinema into yet another, better, even greater one.

Don DeNevi

Lest we forget, “A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet. . .”

Orson Welles