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May 2000, Week 2


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"Grindon, Leger" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 9 May 2000 13:41:23 -0400
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Screen-L subscribers:
     I want to bring your attention to a new book Overhearing Film Dialogue
by Sarah Kozloff from University of California Press.  It just appeared in
paper as well as cloth.  Kozloff analyzes the general characteristics of
screen dialogue in Hollywood films and then explores its practice in four
genres -- the Western, screwball comedy, gangster film and melodrama.  Her
understanding displays insight into the mechanics of screenwriting as well
as the function of movie talk -- its almost uncanny ability, when
well-executed, to assume the colloquial sound of normal conversation while
being carefully shaped to construct plot, reveal character and excite our
emotions. In addition the book is fluently written, well-illustrated and
peppered with evocative examples from both classical and contemporary
Hollywood films, from Wuthering Heights to Reservoir Dogs.  Kozloff offers
plenty of ideas for working screenwriters as well as displaying a thorough
and perceptive sense of how film dialogue functions for the critic or film
scholar.  Overhearing Film Dialogue manages to avoid being either a manual
of screenwriting tips or a theoretical treatise reserved for academics.  If
you love the movies and enjoy reading about them, this book will provide an
engaging experience.  Overhearing Film Dialogue is a valuable tool for any
screenwriting instructor and an excellent text to add to the reading list.
For those in film studies this is an important addition to the literature on
film sound, as far as I know there is no work that deals in a comparable
manner with the structure, design and impact of screen dialogue.  I
recommend it hardily for summer reading and future reference.


Leger Grindon
Professor of Film Studies
Middlebury College

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