I bet you thought I gave up, didn’t you? But no, I am here, and “The Daily Shill” is finally in motion.
I’ve just finished reading the enormous George Lucas’s Blockbusting, and, to tell the truth, I’m unimpressed. Blockbusting reads like the love child of a middle-school textbook and an imdb trivia page. Though it has plenty of fun facts, they are hidden within the poor writing and uninteresting talk of which actors and directors were originally set to participate in the film.
Blockbusting separates film history into decade chapters from pre-1909 to the 2000s. Each chapter begins with history of the decade’s movie business and graphs that (in my opinion) have far too much to do with finance, and it ends with two-page profiles on selected movies. It is these profiles that I have the biggest problems with. For the most part, the writing is just terrible. Sentences regarding completely different topics are placed next to each other without any transitions. Here is a sample, from the blurb on 1934’s Cleopatra. I swear, these four sentences were printed next to each other:
“Costumer Travis Banton had done his homework, researching historical Egyptian and Roman designs, but his priority on [Claudette] Colbert’s costumes was to reveal as much of her figure as industry censors would permit in the last days before a toughened Production Code took effect on July, 1 1934. Since Colbert feared snakes, her scenes with the snake were put off until the very end. DeMille first saw English actor Henry Wilcoxon while in a projection booth at Paramount and cast him as Marc Antony in his first lead role. DeMille was a stickler for accurate details” (Alex Ben Block, 185).
While reading the majority of the blurbs, I was tempted to pull out a red pen and edit them. But then this book would have taken me even longer to read, and I was ready for it to end.
Despite my distaste, I can see how a movie buff (who does not happen to be an English major) would enjoy Blockbusting. To tell the truth, I’ve only seen 62 of the 300 selected films, and I was definitely more interested in reading the write-ups of the movies I’d seen. But, for the most part, reading this book was a chore. I’ll admit I did quite a bit of skimming, especially in the early decades. A few extracts from the notes I took while reading the 1930s section:
“It’s becoming a disappointment every time I turn the page and it is still a movie I don’t know.”
“I’m getting more and more frustrated that I actually bought this book.”
My attitude did improve slightly when I reached later decades, but, were it not for my challenge, I would have put the book down for good.
If anything, though, reading George Lucas’s Blockbusting has inspired me to watch more movies. Before I try to resell this book, I plan on writing down the list of the featured movies and marking ones that piqued my interest. But even though I got that out of it, I wouldn’t recommend the book. I give it a 2/5, and that’s being generous.