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Book review 'All the Best Lines"

As part of the Summer reading Challenge for OUT OF THE PAST blog, here's my book review of
George Tiffin's
'All the Best Lines"

At first glance this might just look like a book filled with quotes from days of movies past....And it is.
But, at the same time it is so much more.

The author, George Tiffin, smartly uses the quotes he has selected to make a point, talk about a subject, or to group together similar concepts. This might seem like a tiny change over books you might have read, filled with quotes, however it is a very effective tactic and allows him to have lines like this describing  Friendships;
Johnny plans a racetrack heist with his accomplice Joe

A friend of mine will be stopping by tomorrow to drop something off for me. He's a cop
A Cop? That's a funny kind of a friend
Well, he's a funny kind of cop

This brings me to my second thing I liked about the book. The author doesn't just throw out line after line, but sets up the scene, so that the reader has some context to understand the lines. As a fan of classic movies and the wonderful writing that goes into it, I can appreciate that author's attempt to do the scene justice by giving you the ability to be caught up with most of the relevant info for the scene. Including the actors in each scene being depicted as well as director, screenwriter and year released.

For me it is the bits and pieces of info about the scene or the movie or the director that comes after the quotes that becomes, over the course of the book, my favorite. Whether talking about the trouble the producers had making JAWS, or the nightmare that Apocalypse Now was to film. The story's and anecdotes are a nice break from the quotes and is what makes the book enjoyable.

While the book is mainly quotes from movies that predate 1979 there are plenty of quotes from more recent movies. And while the classic movie buff will have heard these lines before, having them arranged skillfully and with tons of quick bite info scattered throughout the book, makes an enjoyable and fun read for the classic movie fan. It makes a great coffee table book.

And now some of my favorites from the book;

Movie Terminology used in VARIETY
- Ankle -  A classic term meaning to quit or be dismissed, without going into detail as to which. 
i.e. " Alan Smithee has ankled his post as producer at Paramount"
Boff - Outstanding performance or outstanding box office
i.e. "My Best Friends Wedding has been boffo at the B.O."

David Mamet's thoughts on the movie business;
"Life in the movie business is like the beginning of a new love affair. It's full of surprises and you;re constantly getting screwed"

"Thank god Hollywood people don't have souls, so they don't have to suffer through their lives"
David Mamet is writer/producer of such movies as "Glengary Glen Ross", "The Untouchables" and many others

Hays Code Bans:
-Hays code ruling that a screen embrace should last no more than three seconds
-Any suggestive nudity in fact or in silhouette
-Ridicule of the clergy

Moment of frustration for Coppola on the set of Apocalypse Now caught on audio;
"I'm feeling like an idiot for having set in motions stuff that doesn't make any sense, that doesn't match other scenes, and yet I am doing it and the reason is that I am desperate and have no rational way of doing it. What I have to admit to myself is that I don't feel like I know what I am doing"
Working on the set was not a good experience for the cast and crew

The Women 1939
"There's a name for you ladies, but it isn't used in high society...outside of a kennel"

Casablanca 1942
Ugarte: 'You despise me rick don't you?"
Rick: "If I gave you any though, I probably would"

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 1966
"You are the son of a thousand fathers, all bastards like you.'

The Hollywood Sign;
"No business in history can have been so widely associated with a landmark which cost a mere $21,000. The sign, originally reading HOLLYWOODLAND was put up in 1923 by property developers encouraging Los Angelinos to colonize the hills.

Finally, Stars thoughts on Hollywood;
"Those who do not study history are forced to get it from Hollywood"
Allen Barra

"Half the people in this town are dying to be discovered, the other half are afraid they will be."
Lionel Barrymore

"Hollywood is a place where they'll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss but only fifty cents for your soul"
Marilyn Monroe

1 comment:

  1. This book sounds so interesting! I immediately put it on my wishlist after reading your review. I'm intrigued by the fact that the quotes (notes and anecdotes, ha it rhymes!) are a jumping off point for really interesting information.

    My favorite movie insult is that great line delivered by Joan Crawford in The Women (1939) "There's a name for you ladies, but it isn't used in high society...outside of a kennel". I'm happy to see that it's in the book!

    Thanks for such a thorough review.