Thursday, December 4, 2008
Great Holiday Gift Book for Classic Movie Lovers: World's Coolest Movie Star
If you're scratching your head, wondering what to buy the classic movie lover in your life for the Holidays, here's the (two-volume book) for you. And if you've ever heard the expression, "Come with me to the Casbah" -- it's time to meet the man who spoke those legendary words.
Russia. Poland. Romania. Czech Republic. Mexico. Japan. Iran.
All over the world -- everywhere except in the U.S. -- the legendary Jean Gabin continues to be considered one of the greatest movie stars of all time, and in the U.S., he is, of course, considered to be quite the cult figure (in 2002, twin Gabin festivals were presented at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and at the Walter Reade Theatres in New York). Jean Gabin is/was also one of the all-time-favorite movie stars of Johnny Depp, David Mamet, Michael Caine, Helen Mirren, Sergio Leone, and Jack Kerouac. For the vast majority of the moviegoing public, and just like a lot of the greats, he's managed to have fallen off of the radar a bit.
That's about to change, however, because in 2008, Allenwood Press presents the very first English-language (and two-volume) book about Jean Gabin, ever. (There's not even an old, out-of-print book about Gabin in English, if you can believe that!) It's WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN by CHARLES ZIGMAN.
VOLUME ONE, which has been subtitled "Tragic Drifter," takes us through Gabin's first forty-six films, including the internationally reknowned "Grand Illusion" and "Pepe Le Moko," a period spanning the years 1930 to 1953, during which time the actor played movie history's most famous tragic drifter. During the 1930s and 1940s, Gabin's popularity in the U.S. nearly even eclipsed that of Bogart, James Cagney, and Bette Davis. (Ever heard anybody say, "Come with me to the Casbah. We will make ze beautiful muzeek togezaire?" Well, that line was famously attributed to the character Jean Gabin portrayed in the 1937 gangster classic "Pepe Le Moko," even though he never actually uttered those words -- in fact, Gabin's 'Pepe' character even inspired Warner Bros. to create its legendary cartoon skunk, Pepe Le Pew, whose looks and voice were modeled on the actor.)
VOLUME TWO, which has been subtitled "Comeback/Patriarch" covers Films 47 through 95, which Gabin made between 1954 and 1976. During this period of his career, instead of playing the tragic drifter, the actor played a series of mega-cool gentleman-criminals, and world-weary (yet life-loving) patriarchs. Jean Gabin would even turn out some hilarious comedies during this period -- films which are criminally unknown in the U.S.
The tone of the book is "fun" (as opposed to "academic" and "pretentious") and its goal is to introduce as many people as possible to the films of Gabin; to that end, it's loaded with rare photographs, many of which have never appeared even in previously published French-language books about Gabin.
This is a book for Jean Gabin 'newbies' and 'completists' both: For the uninitiated, there are biography and 'intro' chapters which place Gabin and his famous big-screen persona into perspective. For the completists, author Charles Zigman has 'unpacked' every single one of Jean Gabin's ninety-five theatrical feature films, even the more than fifty pictures which have never been subtitled into English before, so that readers can feel, by poring through the chapters, that they are actually experiencing the films firsthand. Excerpts from newspapers written 'back in the day,' both in the U.S. and in Europe, demonstrate how prominent movie critics received Gabin's pictures the day they were first released, in the 1930s through the 1970s. In short this two-volume book is for everybody.
Besides being the first book about Jean Gabin to appear in the English language, WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR is also a first, because it is the very first 'filmography book' related to Gabin in any language: Even in France, where there have been many published biographies of Gabin, there has never been a book which concentrates in great detail on each of the actor's ninety-five films.
The legendary actress Michele Morgan, who appeared with Gabin in five feature films, has written the foreword to Volume One, and Brigitte Bardot contributed an original foreword to Volume Two.
The books retail at $39.95 each (total, $79.90 for both books) but you can buy them both together, at Amazon.com, for $63.92, a savings of about $16.00 (scroll down to the bottom of the Amazon listing to see the "buy together" option).
For Christmas 2008, it's time for Americans to learn what the rest of the world has always known. Jean Gabin is THE WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR.
To learn more about Gabin and to buy, go to: