Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Book Review: Going to the Castle

I wish I'd had the idea to write a book-length study of the 56 films directed by William Castle (1914-1977). But it's probably just as well that I didn't. I doubt I could done it as well as author Joe Jordan does in Showmanship: The Cinema of William Castle (BearManor Media).

While many, if not most, of Castle's admirers know him for his horror films of the 50s and 60s (House on Haunted Hill, Strait-Jacket, Homicidal), he first took the director's reins at Columbia Pictures in 1943, when he directed Chester Morris as Boston Blackie in the series programmer The Chance of a Lifetime. For me, one of this book's strengths is the author's decision to look at all of the films Castle directed, rather than just the ones movie fans know best. This approach lends depth and context that pay off when it's time to analyze the canonical horror films.

Jordan's reading of the films are intelligent and informed without being pedantic, pointing out themes and recurrent motifs without drowning in minutiea. I also appreciated his interviews with Castle players like Pat Cardi (Let's Kill Uncle) and Joyce Meadows (I Saw What You Did). This is a fine contribution to film scholarship.

NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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