Movie Star Chronicles: A Visual History of the World's Greatest Movie Stars
Movie Star Chronicles: A Visual History of the World's Greatest Movie Stars
Movie Star Chronicles: A Visual History of the World's Greatest Movie Stars Movie Star Chronicles: A Visual History of the World's Greatest Movie Stars Movie Star Chronicles: A Visual History of the World's Greatest Movie Stars

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Publisher: Firefly Books

Author Statement: Ian Haydn Smith ; Foreword by David Gordon Green
Audience: Trade
Specs: 2,500 full color illustrations, index
Pages: 576
Trim Size: 6 3/4" X 9 3/4" X 1 5/8"
Language code 1: eng
Publication Date: 20150917
Copyright Year: 2015
Price: Select Below

Movie Star Chronicles: A Visual History of the World's Greatest Movie Stars

A definitive illustrated encyclopedia for movie fans and film students.

Movie Star Chronicles promises to satisfy the curiosity of moviegoers, cinephiles, and the Hollywood-hungry fans that fuel today's entertainment news industry. For film students, it is a practical reference to the most important actors in cinematic history.

Entries illustrated with film and television stills and other archival material chart the careers of 330 actors from the era of silent film to today's blockbusters. Expert text gives an entertaining overview and color-coded timelines provide an at-a-glance guide to the actor's career, their roles, movie release dates, earnings and awards.

With 576 pages and more than 2,500 illustrations for only $29.95, Movie Star Chronicles is an outstanding value. It includes:

  • A to Z coverage of 330 movie stars, with extended entries for 100
  • 20 feature articles on popular movie trends, including vampires; western heroes; singers turned actors; femmes fatales; saints and sinners; acting dynasties; combat stars; cops and more
  • 30 lavish double-page photo spreads showing cinema's most influential stars at work and how film has evolved from silent black- and-white to color 3-D
  • 20 illustrated features on genres and trends, such as Superheroes, Acting Dynasties, Screen Sirens, and Movie Villains
  • Color-coded timelines showing the arc of an actor's career, including release dates and types of features, such as Criminal, Romantic Drama, and Thriller
  • Best Actor awards: Oscars, BAFTA, Cesar (France), Goya (Spain), David Di Donatello (Italy), Golden Horse (Asia), Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Sundance.

Covering Hollywood, Bollywood and world cinema, Movie Star Chronicles is truly international and comprehensive. Sure to attract a wide readership, it is an essential purchase.


Ian Haydn Smith is a U.K.-based writer and editor. As a journalist, he has written on film and the arts for numerous media outlets. From 2007 to 2012, he was editor of International Film Guide, and since 2011, he has been editor of Curzon Magazine and series editor of 24 Frames. Recent publications include editing the updated edition of 1001 Movies to See Before You Die.

David Gordon Green is the director of George Washington (2000), All the Real Girls (2003), Undertow (2004), Snow Angels (2007), Pineapple Express (2008), Your Highness (2011), The Sitter (2011) and Prince Avalanche (2013). He was a producer for Eastbound and Down (2009-12) and Good Vibes (2011). His most recent films as director are Joe (2013) with Nicolas Cage, Manglehorn (2014) with Al Pacino and the satire Our Brand Is in Crisis (2015), starring Sandra Bullock.



What makes a star? Reality TV has been grasping at this question for years, offering up shows whose aim is to seek out and develop a new pop culture icon before our very eyes. If the Got Talent franchise aimed at identifying individuals or groups with the raw material to be forged into something unique, The X Factor, by its very name, suggested that even with talent, there has to be an extra ingredient that makes someone stand out from the crowd. Most winners from these series eventually fade back into the anonymity of everyday life after basking in the glow of fame -- longer than Andy Warhol's 15 minutes, but hardly a career -- highlighting that stardom can be a fickle beast.

To make a distinction, acting is a vocation, a career choice in which one's own life experiences, as well as empathy for the suffering, joy, pain, triumph and anguish of others, is brought to bear in the creation of a wholly -- or mostly -- fictitious being. Stardom is conferred on few, but not all, actors. And in its various forms, it is not always welcome. Stardom also stands in stark contrast to celebrity, which is a byproduct of fame, the bastion of the talentless or for some what remains when a star has waned.

There is a quality to an actor that makes them a star -- an aura that surrounds them or something about their presence that makes it impossible for us to look away from them. (And not just on film. I was once in a second-hand bookshop on London's Charing Cross Road when Peter O'Toole walked in. Before seeing him, there was a sense that the atmosphere in the shop had changed. He wanted to know whether a copy of Loitering with Intent was in stock. The assistant, mystified as to why the actor was enquiring about the availability of the first volume of his own memoir, replied that there were no copies. O'Toole responded, with a wry smile, "Good. People should have to pay full price for it and not read someone else's bloody copy," and promptly walked out. The mood in the shop returned to one of subdued normality.)

Stars have always dominated cinema, too often at the expense of the many creative roles in a vastly populated industry. In the years before sound, people might not have known who D.W. Griffith, Abel Gance, Victor Sjöström, King Vidor or Giovanni Pastrone -- some of the greatest directors of their day -- were, but Charles Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Ruan Lingyu, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and their peers were household names. Some change came with the rise of film criticism and the increased focus on the director as auteur. However, in the last 25 years, with agents increasing their power and the salary of the people they represent, the star once again burns brightly. And not just in Hollywood. Bollywood in India and Nollywood in Nigeria, as well as other national cinemas around the world, are dominated by stars. They not only play a significant role in our enjoyment of and emotional engagement with a film, but are also a key presence in the marketing campaign, whether it's their face appearing on huge billboards or appearances on chat shows around the globe. They are surrounded by an army of employees, from press and marketing through to managers, assistants, lawyers and those responsible for making them look good. Audiences' appetite for stars, or what the image of the star represents -- from an idealized life through to the characters they play -- is as voracious as it ever was.

Some stars bask in such fame. Tom Cruise has taken the responsibility of his stardom to an impressive professional level, always on hand at premieres to spend a few hours with the audiences who have queued up to see him. Others have a more truculent relationship with the fame that has accompanied their success as an actor. In Albert and David Maysles' 1966 documentary short Meet Marlon Brando, the star, who was meant to be promoting his new film Morituri (1965), eschews the conventions of the press junket, preferring instead to explore the nature of the unspoken agreement between studios and the media in promoting a film, as well as questioning his interviewers more than they are able to him. And yet, what shines through is the sheer magnetism of Brando -- that thing that makes him so compelling a presence on the screen. As David Gordon Green points out in his preface to this book, not all great actors possess this quality, and no doubt some bad actors do. But a great star, one whose best work outlasts their lifetime, both personally and on the screen, is the one who has achieved the perfect symbiosis of talent and charisma.

Movie Star Chronicles is not an exhaustive encyclopedia of every star that has graced the screen. There have been too many to include in one volume. Instead, the book is a tapestry of stars past and present, whose profiles detail each actor's ascendancy, high points and career misfires, building into a wider portrait of those elements that help make a star. It highlights the vast spectrum of what constitutes a star, from the silent matinee idol to the turbulent youth, the charmer or femme fatale to the action hero or solitary outsider. And within these archetypes we see that extra element, unique to each individual but loved by their fans, that makes them so original -- a major presence on the screen. An icon. A star.

Ian Haydn Smith



    Foreword by David Gordon Green
    How to Use This Book
    Movie Star Directory
    Awards Directory
    Picture Credits

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