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Hollywood's Greatest Directors

. NOT AVAILABLE. ————.The Modern Era. UPC 739815005367.Ea.: 29 min. w/educator's guide. filmography. time line. notes. Dist. by Ambrose Video. 2013. $199.99. Series UPC 739815005312.
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Gr 7 Up—This set celebrates film as the "primary medium for exploring who we are as Americans" and as today's most popular form of art. Actor Erick Avari guides viewers through 100 years of its history, told through the brief bios of more than two dozen diverse acclaimed directors. The most insightful program, "The Silent Era," throws the spotlight on well-known pioneers—D.W. Griffith, credited with creating the grammar of film, and Charlie Chaplin, proclaimed as the first auteur—and the obscure, e.g., Lois Weber. Without a doubt, this chapter will be the least familiar for teens. "The Coming of Sound" points out the accomplishments of the lesser-known Dorothy Arzner ("Hollywood's greatest female director") and African American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux (though he worked independently outside of the Hollywood studios). The series inclusively introduces viewers to need-to-know auteurs, like Howard Hawks, Orson Welles, and John Ford ("America's Homer"), and onward to Mike Nichols, Mel Brooks (with the noisy bean scene from Blazing Saddles), and Martin Scorsese. Strangely, the reverently formal narration occasionally digresses to mention the final resting place of, say, Vincent Minnelli. Spike Lee, Oliver Stone, and Kathryn Bigelow make appearances, though a few heavyweights inevitably didn't make the cut—Billy Wilder, for example. The clips offer a bite-size sample; excerpts last less than a minute per classic film. A suitable addition for budding film buffs and to extensive feature film collections, which would complement this series.—Kent Turner, School Library Journal

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