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The Disney Live-Action Productions [Paperback]

John G. West

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Book for Film Buffs, Disney Fans and Aspiring Filmmakers 6 Dec 1999
By David Haggith - Published on Amazon.com
John West's book offers an inside view of the film studio that chose to be different and became one of the nation's largest entertainment empires. The Disney difference was not just in content, but in how the studio was run. In the days when Walt was alive, the emphasis was on the script and on creativity, resulting in an esprit de corps among writers that no other studio could match.
West brings objective balance to previous critics of Walt Disney's operational style as well as critics of Disney films. West reveals a man more complex, and therefore more real, than his critics have portrayed. Stories by members of the Disney corps describe a man both tough and fair, tempestuous, but also willing to let the battle drop, frugal, but almost always willing to put the creative vision ahead of cost concerns. West adroitly uses the right word for the right job in a manner that subtly shades his arguments and helps the reader see the finer distinctions he is making with regard to Disney's character.
Disney was a man of the people, not given to the usual pretentious behavior of Hollywood executives. As a result, his heroes-like those in earlier Frank Capra films-were the little people, given a rare moment in life to show their courage, which always derived from their principles rather than from rising to meet someone else's expectations of what a hero should be. Disney the man cherished those beliefs in his own dealings with people, having, as West shows, an elastic view of his employee's talents, willing to let them move in directions where they had not had a chance to prove themselves because he saw the desire within.
When Walt died, the studio floundered for almost two decades. One of the big changes that led to the decline at Disney Studios came because the new executives were strictly businessmen, not men of creativity. Not understanding the creative process as Walt had, they no longer placed the primary emphasis on the writer and the story, but tried in simplistic ways to mimic the family-values content of previous Disney material without recognizing that good stories are never written by committee. Although Walt shaped scripts in consort with his writers in a highly patriarchal fashion, he was a consumate creator himself-something the later suits at Disney were not-and he always left the final incorporation of his vision or revision with the original writer of the screenplay.
Though Disney Studios has recovered from its perilous decline, it's executives might fine-tune their newly recovered success by reading this book and by realizing that the Disney difference was not just content, but an operational style that let writers see their own vision through from origination to the final shooting copy of their script.
A good book for wannabe filmmakers, but an even better book for established film executives.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a winner 5 July 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This book does have some pictures, but it isn't a "coffee table" picture book. It is full of interviews with the people involved in the production of these films, that you can't find anywhere else. It contains lots of information and insight that you won't find in other sources. My favorite parts are the sections on Zorro, Davy Crockett, and the films of Hayley Mills. If you really want to learn about the best of early Disney live action, This is the book!
5.0 out of 5 stars More, more! 1 Feb 2003
By microjoe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a great book, very entertaining, and even in my own pile of books on Disney, it stands out as being the only book that focuses strictly on their live action subject. The author breaks down each film he covers, listing title, cast and crew, synopsis, and a review (he does a great job at this). He includes behind the scenes information and comments from original participants I have never seen published anywhere else. The only thing is is lacking is it has very few pictures, and and it needs some more interviews with the principle screenwriters, actors, directors, and such. While it does not cover all the live films, overall it is very comprehensive considering the library of live action films from Disney is much bigger than most people realize. It is also currently the BEST and most COMPLETE book on this specific subject. I am grateful at having found this book, and look forward to any future releases from the author or an expanded version of this book.

If you want more books to consider on the subject of live Disney films, I reccommend the following books for sale at Amazon: "The Wonderful World of Disney Television" by Bill Cotter; "The Disney Films" by Leonard Maltin; "The Disney Studio Story" by Richard Hollis and Brian Sibley; "The Wonderful World of Disney Animals" by Disney's chief movie animal trainer William Koehler; "Walt, Backstage Adventures with Walt Disney" by Charles Shows; "One of Walt's Boys" by Harry Tytle.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thorough analysis of the Disney films showing actors. 4 May 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
People have delighted in Disney's "live-action" films for decades. This book describes their production. You'll greatly enjoy learning about your many, many old favorites.
1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Disappointing Miss. 14 Mar 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was terribly disappointed with this book, which promised so much and delivered so little. While well-written, the prose is lackluster and frequently misses its focus. Although film reviews are often insightful, plot descriptions are sometimes limited to a single sentence. But the biggest disappointment of all is the lack of photographs. What fan of Disney live-action films wouldn't delight in a book featuring pictures of these films in production. Instead, the few pictures I found were grainy, out-of-focus snapshots, mostly of buildings used as backdrops. Few, if any of the people involved in any of the films are featured. Further, although many of Disney l ive-action TV films are discussed, not one of the serials featured on the Original Mickey Mouse Club rates so much as a passing mention. Pass this one by.
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