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Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame
"A penetrating, lively cultural history of movie stardom...a valuable, provocative book that can make us laugh, think and argue about the starry contradictions that are so profound a part of our lives."
(Hear Caryn James discuss "Gods Like Us" in the Sunday NYTBR weekly podcast.)
"Any Hollywood history can describe a star's X factor. But not many film historians can see the whole equation as Ty Burr does in 'Gods Like Us,' his lively and provocative chronicle of the genesis of movie stars and the metamorphosis of movie stardom. He offers original thinking about the audience factor."
"Wide-ranging. . . . Superb. . . . Capacious and thought-provoking. . . . In 'Gods Like Us,' Boston Globe film critic Burr presents a fresh take on the medium's history, eschewing the standard roll call of moguls and filmmakers, preferring to understand the triumph of Hollywood as a carefully orchestrated harnessing of the ferocious power of celebrity."
"A brilliant and even profound history of stardom for an era that doesn't begin to know how very badly it both wants and needs it."
"David Thomson, watch out! In the pithy new book 'Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame,' Boston Globe film critic Ty Burr delivers thoughtfully epigrammatic descriptions of movie stars, actors, and celebrities. He wittily traces the progression of these characters from the early days of film to their current incarnations on the internet, from the young Frank Sinatra, who 'looked like a freshly hatched ostrich but his singing voice promised a slowly crested big-band orgasm,' to Harrison Ford, who is able to 'make grumpiness seem sexy.' . . . 'Gods Like Us' soars when it meditates on individual stars and their personae. . . . The whole book is worth guzzling for the golden nuggets on movie stars and celebrity sprinkled throughout."
"'Gods Like Us' is a standout, as enjoyable as it is informative, when it comes to the astrology of public entertainment."
"Burr is an ever-witty presence on the page (see: Clara Bow, with her 'blat of raw sexual energy,' or Arnold Schwarzenegger, 'this slab of Black Forest ham'). A terrific writer, then, yes, but also an astute reader of history, as in his near-breathless analysis of three midcentury seismic shifts - the emergence of Marlon Brando, television, and rock & roll. Burr gives each subject a good chew."
"Burr's 'Gods Like Us' is a constantly interpretive history of and idiosyncratic meditation on stardom. . . . It is an important work, precisely because it is such a difficult task that is all too rarely undertaken."
"Burr has both a fan's and scholar's grasp of the history of film, and he travels along a celluloid highway that extends from the early days of Thomas Edison to Zac Efron. Of greatest interest to the author is our evolving notion of celebrity - of what celebrities mean. . . . A focused history of films."
"'Gods Like Us' is an entertaining, wide-ranging account of the way movies created a new kind of fame, and changed the world in the process. Ty Burr's encyclopedic history of movie stardom is gossipy (in the best of sense of the word) and insightful, and his cultural analysis is as provocative as it persuasive."
"The sharp, illuminating 'Gods Like Us' is as enjoyable and addictive as the greatest bucket of movie popcorn you've ever had. For anyone who loves cinema, this is a 'must own' book."
Features and Interviews:
NPR's "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross, March 25, 2013.
Chicago Tribune, February 23, 2013
Valley News (NH), November 30, 2012
The 50 Movie Starter Kit: What You Need To Know If You Want To Know what You're Talking About
The Best Old Movies for Families: A Guide to Watching Together
"Every parent has asked for Ty Burr's book. Every movie-mad child will steal it from the parents. This is a guide to classic movies for kids, written with verve, humor, and pep. A winner."
"A treasure, a delight, and quite possibly a marriage-saver as well. Ty Burr's advice on when, how, and even why to share with our children the movies we cherish from our own youth is funny, hip, and wise. My ten-year-old stole the book right out of my hands."
"Terrific, necessary, and carried out with integrity, intelligence, sensitivity, and totally without condescension. Ty Burr's book can lead to a lot of pleasure-of the life-long kind."
Some of my favorite reviews:
Want to see what it's about? Here's a sample entry:
When I was on the staff of Entertainment Weekly in the 1990s, I also had a hand in two Time-Life publications, The 100 Greatest Movies of All Time (1999) and The 100 Greatest Stars of All Time (1998). These were referred to as "bookazines," a horrible non-word cooked up by the Time-Life marketing department to describe slim hardcovers that were sold on newsstands and in check-out lines next to the weeklies. Movies is close to 100% my handwork: The list itself was the product of an EW in-house voting committee of which I was a member, but I wrote all the introductions and essays - everything except the factoid sidebars. It's a pretty good book, dated in many ways but still a fun coffee-table read, and I got to slot in one of my most obscure favorites in at #100: Celine and Julie Go Boating. Greatest Stars is more of a staff hodgepodge on which I chipped in a number of essays. Both books are out of print, but if you're really curious, you can find used copies via the Amazon links above.
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Copyright 2012. Ty Burr. All Rights Reserved