As I heard a six year-old toddler give his parents his Christmas present list – new apps for his iPhone – I wondered if anyone out there might actually be going retro and giving books this year. If you are, apart from forking out £40 for the astonishing ‘London’s Hidden Interiors’, worth every penny, you could try this.
It’s called the Little Black Book of Movies: Movies: Over a Century of the Greatest Films, Stars, Scenes, Speeches and Events That Rocked the Movie World’ – there’s a mouthful – and it’s neither black nor little. An editor called Chris Fujiwara has assembled a staggering selection of key scenes from world cinema into one vast tome for just £18.99.
The book is a selection of moments that celebrates 100 years of cinema. There are 1000 of these divided into categories including great scenes, lines and major events, from meetings and debuts to casting quirks and deaths. Some are well-known action sequences, special effects, performances, great bits of direction or dialogue. Others are more subtle – groundbreaking films that inspired decades of imitators, the first screen appearance of a future star, the untimely death of a major player and so on – what distinguishes the book is the quality of writing and its breadth of knowledge. I’ve ended up watching dozens of films I’d never seen because of it. I just wish it was available as a DVD set.