New book tackles film illiteracy

25 October, 2015 by Don Groves

Antony I. Ginnane has long been concerned about what he regards as a high level of film illiteracy among many writers, producers and directors, both established and emerging.

And the veteran producer/distributor believes that even among those filmmakers who are steeped in screen history, some have little or no knowledge of the countless classic films produced in the decades before the 1970s.

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That’s part of the motivation for Ginnane’s new book, The Unusual Suspects: 104 Films That Made World Cinema, which Currency Press is launching next month.

His eclectic choices range from D.W. Griffith’s Way Down East (1920) through to Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Volume 1 (2003).

Omitting any title produced after 2003, he explains, does not suggest that no great films had been made since then, but rather that the grammar of cinema had already been laid down.

He is quick to point out his list, which includes Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, Phillip Noyce’s Newsfront, Ted Kotcheff’s Wake in Fright, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven and Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and Casino, is not intended to be a “best of.”

But, in his opinion, all 104 films are milestones in the history of film theory, with each spotlighting the preoccupations, neuroses and obsessions of the filmmaker.

“My purpose is to enlighten, assist and educate,” Ginnane tells IF. “I want to introduce or reintroduce these classics to people who are often time-poor. “

Handily, the book explains how DVDs of each title can be accessed.

In his 40-year career he has produced or exec produced 64 features and miniseries including Fantasm, Turkey Shoot and Patrick (the originals and the remakes), Harlequin, Hightide, Bonjour Timothy, The Lighthorsemen, Sally Marshall Is Not an Alien and Last Dance.

Another motivation for writing the book is to pave the way for Ginnane’s memoirs, a project he started working on five years ago.

Admiring works such as Terry Ilott’s seminal tome My Indecision Is Final: The Rise and Fall of Goldcrest Films, his first effort was heavy on detail, dates and facts and light on personal revelations and gossip.

He showed the manuscript to several publishers who told him it needs to be much shorter and more revealing about his own life.

After “brutal editing” and including more personal material, he is getting ready to resubmit the manuscript, hopefully with a view to being published in 2017.

The Unusual Suspects: 104 Films That Made World Cinema. Currency Press, RRP $44.99, hardback.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Shane

    Yeah, good idea. I once attended a screenwriting workshop, and one of the participants asked, “who’s Hitchcock?” during a discussion. An embarrassing silence followed.

  • Petrice

    Are any female directors films mentioned? This is the problem with lists and canon’s pertaining to the arts, women are generally left out.

  • Richard Moss

    This has long been a factor in Australian film and television drama production. I have worked many times over 40+ years, for producers and directors who had not the first notion of terms in common when it came to discussing drama, theatrical practices, plays or films of the past.

    There has always been a large number of directors and producers in Australia who know about combinations of shots, and how to avoid crossing the line, but beyond that draw a blank with such things as character analysis, units and subunits, character intent or requirements, truth and the absence of reality, or conservation of energies. Too many think that if the actor gets all the words in the right order and manages to hit the mark, then he/she has done a good job.

    There is also a tendency to shoot the daylights out of the stars, and treat everyone else like an also ran, especially the bit parts, which is a huge mistake when telling a story.