RaveThe Wall Street JournalKeaton fans have often complained that nearly all biographies of him suffer from a questionable slant or a cursory treatment of key events. With Buster Keaton: A Filmmaker’s Life—at more than 800 pages dense with research and facts—Mr. Curtis rectifies that situation, and how. He digs deep into Keaton’s process and shows how something like the brilliant two-reeler Cops went from a storyline conceived from necessity—construction on the movie lot encouraged shooting outdoors—to a masterpiece ... This will doubtless be the primary reference on Keaton’s life for a long time to come ... the worse Keaton’s life gets, the more engrossing Mr. Curtis’s book becomes.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMs. Stevens (who is a professional acquaintance of mine) writes with grace and passion about her idol ... Ms. Stevens dives into subjects many Keaton admirers have merely sideswiped, notably the painful ethnic and racial jokes in his films ... it isn’t just Keaton who emerges with startling precision, but those around him as well ... As a critic, and not a biographer, Ms. Stevens can spark some disagreement ... If you want a sense of passionate attachment to Buster Keaton—either as one of the great comic filmmakers of all time, or as a loyal and likable man in an industry famed for those who lack both qualities—that’s Dana Stevens.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalThe many ways of being the world’s most famous film director are what Mr. White attempts to pin down in The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock ... Mr. White [...] He takes a middle road in his estimation of his subject as a person, more empathetic than biographer Donald Spoto or critic David Thomson, less reverent than François Truffaut or Peter Bogdanovich. The book presents Hitchcock’s best and worst behavior, and there is a good deal of both ... The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock isn’t groundbreaking, but it is full of such sharp observations, offering a Hitchcock whose art endures alongside—and in some ways depends upon—his insecurities and mistakes.
PositiveThe Guardian“Via a fluent, often witty translation by Shelley Frisch, Wieland draws the portrait of women who were ambitious to a degree stunning in their day. Moreover, by tracking their divergent careers together, she is able subtly to suggest some answers to a question that hangs over every mid-century German artist: what kind of responses were available to the Nazi apocalypse?”