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Kevin Brownlow

Author of The Parade's Gone By...

28+ Works 834 Members 11 Reviews 5 Favorited

About the Author

Image credit: cinemamuseum.org.uk

Works by Kevin Brownlow

The Parade's Gone By... (1968) 314 copies
Hollywood: The Pioneers (1979) 121 copies
David Lean: A Biography (1996) 92 copies
Mary Pickford Rediscovered (1999) 56 copies
How It Happened Here (1968) 23 copies
Winstanley [1975 film] (2009) — Director — 6 copies
Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow (1987) — Director — 3 copies
Garbo [2005 film] (2005) 3 copies

Associated Works

The Great Dictator [1940 film] (1940) — Documentary, some editions — 160 copies
Olympia: Photobook (1994) — Introduction, some editions — 57 copies
Napoleon [1927 film] (1927) — Restorer, 1981 version, some editions — 35 copies
The Cameraman / Spite Marriage / Free and Easy (1928) — Director — 11 copies
TCM Archives: The Lon Chaney Collection (1921) — Director — 11 copies

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Reviews

England's Kevin Brownlow brings to life America's Sweetheart, Mary Pickford, in this richly textured and insightful book featuring myriad of lush and rare photographs chosen by Pickford expert Robert Cushman. Mary Pickford's contribution to cinema is seen in a new light here. Brownlow subtly makes the case that she not only was the most influential woman in the history of cinema, but a visionary force for the film industry itself.

It is difficult in today's climate of instant access to information to understand just how popular Mary Pickford was in her day. She was embraced by the entire world, and reportedly, every twenty-four hours, 12 1/2 million people saw her onscreen. She perfected her craft in an era of film when very few people actually saw her natural acting style for the hard work and genius it was. George Cukor called her the first method actor.

Mary Pickford's career as an actress spanned decades. She did much for women with her strong business savvy and the roles she not only portrayed, but created. A very practical woman by all accounts, her films themselves reflected our better side as human beings and were often sentimental in tone. She didn't play weak characters as many of her contemporaries did. When people walked out of a theatre after seeing a Pickford film, they were often uplifted, feeling generous towards their fellowman.

Brownlow has done a wonderful job of bringing Mary Pickford to life as a three dimensional human being. With all the rare and beautiful photographs here to distract you it would have been easy to have an uninspiring text. But the introduction by Cushman and the lengthy and insightful comments by Brownlow, which include commentary on each Pickford film, makes this a mesmerizing journey into a life, both on-film and off.

There were many things about Mary the public knew, such as the famous Pickfair and her celebrated marriage to Douglas Fairbanks, as well as their friendship with Charlie Chaplin. They knew little, however, of a young girl who virtually had no childhood. Before her career finally took off she was poor in the extreme, sleeping in a chair so long it would take quite some time after owning a bed before she could sleep in any other position.

Who was the abusive alcoholic in Mary's life, and whom did she turn to for comfort? And at the height of her fame, what troubled her soul so much that she almost ended it all? Though these aspects of Mary's life are only touched upon and not dealt with in depth, it is admirable they are here at all, separating this from other coffee-table-style books.

The photographs are so stunningly beautiful (some never before seen) you may have trouble concentrating on the text. Of particular note: photographs on pages 110, 65, 17, 12, 27, 154, 121, and 66. They are beautiful, and not to be missed.

This lush and informative book is filled with affection for its subject, perhaps too much, but that is part of its charm. The sparse yet informative text is augmented by rare and breathtaking photographs. Definitely a must-own book for anyone who loves film, silent films especially. Its overall perspective of America's Sweetheart, Mary Pickford, while obviously biased, is nonetheless unmatched.
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Matt_Ransom | 1 other review | Oct 6, 2023 |
A famous 1968 history of the silent movie era with discussion of the great directors, stars, productions, cameramen, editors and title card writers, constructed largely from interviews that the author had with silent movie industry workers and excerpts from biographies and Photoplay articles. Many great photographs. Somewhat disorganized.
 
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markm2315 | 2 other reviews | Jul 1, 2023 |
Great photos and anecdotes, occasionally dated commentary.
 
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beautifulshell | 2 other reviews | Aug 27, 2020 |
A fascinating book packed with information on the silent film era. High quality photographs throughout display the sheer artistry of the era. Having read many books on this time in Hollywood, including Brownlow's excellent The Parade's Gone By, I appreciated the different angle that this book took; rather than go into lengthy chapters, most chapters consisted of only a few pages in tiny print followed by loads of pictures with captions. The one negative about this presentation is that the text is indeed quite small and the hardcover book is heavy, so I found it difficult to read the book in certain places in my house. Perhaps this was more intended as a coffee table book than to be read one-handed at a dining table.

Until the very end of the book, I was unaware that this was a companion volume for a television series. It turns out, that series is on YouTube--and I had already saved it to watch, many months ago! Now I know I need to watch it.
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ladycato | 2 other reviews | Jul 31, 2019 |

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Works
28
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ISBNs
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