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TCM: The Essentials Volume 2: 52 More Must-See Movies And Why They Matter Book Review

A sequel that is better than the original.

Based on the long-running Turner Classic Movies series “The Essentials,” “TCM: The Essentials Volume 2: 52 More Must-See Movies And Why They Matter” (what a mouthful that title is) is the follow-up book to “TCM: The Essentials: 52 Must-See Movies And Why They Matter.” The book kicks off with a foreword by Ben Mankiewicz who talks about “The Essentials” past and present (along with great cinema) and an intro by author Jeremy Arnold who provides an overview of what readers can expect within these pages. After that, the book dives into the main content ala the 52 films ranging from the years 1927 to 1989. Each of the 52 films presented here are accompanied by credits, photos, a plot summary, quotes from industry pros about said film, a written piece on why it’s essential (along with some background on the title), and elements to look out for ala the Nicholas Ray cameo in “Rebel Without A Cause” or how the first toilet flushed on screen happened in “Psycho.” The book concludes with a handy list of all films covered on “The Essentials” series (with entries that appear in these 2 book volumes being noted), an index, bibliography and acknowledgments.

The first volume was a well written and informative film book in its own right but it covered too many obvious classics like “Citizen Kane,” “Casablanca,” “Bonnie and Clyde,” you get the drift. Thankfully volume 2 digs much deeper by including the likes of Howard Hawks’ “Twentieth Century,” George Cukor’s “The Women,” David Lean’s “Brief Encounter” and Sam Peckinpah’s underrated “Ride The High Country,” among others. Of course, there are still a number of well known classics featured here such as “The Maltese Falcon,” “High Noon,” “Psycho,” and “Rashomon.” As a whole though, this book has a nice balance of well known and underrated classics from numerous genres like musicals,westerns, international cinema, crime dramas and more. On top of that, that aforementioned handy list of films featured on “The Essentials” offers up an even greater selection of titles to seek out if you haven’t seen them.

Much like the first volume, one of the most rewarding aspects of this sequel is learning about the history of these films. I was particularly drawn to learning about MGM’s lack of faith in “Ride The High Country,” behind the scenes info on the iconic stargate sequence in “2001: A Space Odyssey” and the Iowa shoot in “Field of Dreams.” Naturally, that’s just scraping the surface of what is revealed here about the 52 films as I’m not going to spoil everything. You’ll have to read it for yourself.

October 22, 2020 - Posted by | Book review | , , , , , , ,

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