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James Whale : A New World of Gods and Monsters Paperback – 24 Aug 1998

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Paperback, 24 Aug 1998
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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber (24 Aug. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571192858
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571192854
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 13.3 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,145,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

You may not recognize James Whale, but you would surely recognize his most prominent contribution to American popular culture: Frankenstein's monster, as portrayed by Boris Karloff. Whale, a British expatriate who made his way to Hollywood just as films were making the transition to the talkies, directed both the original Frankenstein (1931) and its sequel, The Bride of Frankenstein (1936), for Universal Pictures. Afraid of being pigeonholed as a horror director (he also made The Invisible Man and The Old Dark House), he eventually insisted on more mainstream projects, including the musical Show Boat and The Road Back, a sequel to All Quiet on the Western Front which flopped at the box office. Today, The Bride of Frankenstein is considered to be his best film, a work that combines moments of genuine suspense with a thoroughly macabre sense of humour.

In 1982, film historian James Curtis wrote his first biography of Whale. James Whale: A New World of Gods and Monsters is not a revision of that book, however, but a substantial reworking involving much in the way of new research. Whale's life story is emblematic of an entire generation of European émigrés who made critical artistic contributions to American film only to find themselves in ultimate obscurity. Although recent fictional and truthful accounts of Whale's life have emphasized his homosexuality--even the jacket cover of this book cites it as the reason for Hollywood's eventual rejection of Whale--Curtis himself tells a more nuanced tale. Certainly, Whale made no attempts to hide his preference for men; at the same time, he made his sexual orientation neither a prominent feature of his personal life nor his movies. While it's possible that he was fired from Columbia Pictures in 1941 because of homophobia on the part of studio owner Harry Cohn, it should also be noted that it didn't take much to get on the bad side of Harry Cohn and that, perhaps more to the point, Whale hadn't had a significant commercial hit in five years.

Curtis's biography is filled with fascinating anecdotes from David Lewis, Whale's longtime companion, and several of the actors who worked with Whale, including Peter Cushing and Gloria Stuart (Titanic). It also has a rich appreciation of the artistic qualities of Whale's work. It is, in short, the sort of critical biography that any film director would hope to have. --Ron Hogan


"Immaculately researched, smoothly written, honest without being lascivious, a model of its kind." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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on 22 October 2001
Format: Paperback
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on 24 July 2012
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on 8 March 2016
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Most helpful customer reviews on 4.8 out of 5 stars 16 reviews
5.0 out of 5 starsAn insightful biography of James Whale
on 2 May 2016 - Published on
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
8 people found this helpful.
5.0 out of 5 starsA Definitive Biography
on 18 February 2004 - Published on
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5.0 out of 5 starsExcellent biography
on 4 April 2017 - Published on
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
4.0 out of 5 starsA Good Solid Biography
on 29 October 2006 - Published on
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6 people found this helpful.
5.0 out of 5 starsExcellent Bio!
on 26 June 2000 - Published on
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase

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