By John H. Foote
Let me be clear, these books are not written by the editor, they act as gatherers of information, they are detectives seeking out old interviews, nothing more. So Lane, a self-described acclaimed film and television director, producer and writer, lent not a creative bone to this book, by far the weakest in this magnificent series from the University Press of Mississippi, every volume sitting on my shelf. As for the acclaim this film and TV director has achieved, imdb.com lists several shorts I suspect are student films, a cooking show, a nature program and a long defunct series entitled Gamer Girlz. Hardly acclaimed. A theatrical release is nowhere to be seen.
When reading the series books on Charles Chaplin and John Huston, interviews were included as far back as 1915, but the first in the Friedkin volume is 1974 and the balance are from retrospectives over the last 10 years. Are we to believe there exist no interviews from Friedkin on The Boys in the Band (1970), his Oscar winning Best Picture The French Connection (1971), the huge box office hit The Exorcist (1973) or the ill-fated Sorcerer (1977)? I don’t buy it, at all. Were there no press interviews when To Live and Die in LA (1985) opened, briefly reviving Friedkin’s career? Apparently not.
It feels more like a love-in for an egomaniacal director, who had a career and blew it! He talks about his work, but all in past tense. The beauty of a press interview from the time of a films release is that no one is aware of how the picture will play to audiences and critics. Even if an interview comes a month after a film is released, we get at least fresh perspective and reaction from the director while here, Friedkin has had years to prepare what are canned often redundant answers.
This is the laziest edition from the Press, the weakest volume they have published.
Very disappointing, it is a pale shadow in this exceptional series.
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.