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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Show People

A History of the Film Star

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Show People

A History of the Film Star

Show People offers a comprehensive history of the idea of the film star from Mary Pickford to Andy Serkis, traversing more than one hundred years and drawing on examples from America, Britain, Europe, and Asia. Renowned film writer Michael Newton explores our enduring love affair with fame, glamour, and the cinematic image. Newton builds up an expansive picture of movie stardom through explorations of striking and diverse figures such as Ingrid Bergman and John Wayne, Anna Karina and Sidney Poitier, Maggie Cheung, and Raj Kapoor. He celebrates the great performers of the past, and he looks forward to developments in the future, while also illuminating the inner workings of the movie industry and what moves us in a film and in an actor’s performance.

An encyclopedic, illustrated history of film idols ready for their close-ups, Show People is ultimately a book about cinephilia, the love of cinema, and our complex connection to that celebrated and beleaguered figure, the movie star.

448 pages | 50 halftones | 6 x 9 1/2

Film Studies

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"In Show People, professor and columnist Newton waxes rhapsodic about a century of acting, with a special fondness for  performances about performance. . . . I spent a few nights rewatching movies I hadn't seen in a while, simply  because of the way Newton writes about those small beats we love without knowing how to quite explain, the ones that can get reframed with new, wider context when you think about them more."

Genevieve Valentine | NPR

"Show People, by academic Newton, examines how film stars shaped the medium, rather than vice versa. In fact, it’s a collection of essays on individual actors, from Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin to Scarlett Johansson, sometimes focusing on a single film, sometimes on whole careers, and sometimes just on gossip. . . . [Made] me want to seek out some of the oddities and forgotten classics he mentions."

Evening Standard

"Newton has subtlety, originality, and a wide range of reference. . . . He has the knack of apt quotation . . . and sharp summary.”

Sight and Sound

"In effect Newton presents the history of film told through famous actors and the notable movies in which they starred. . . . Each of the stars included brought something new to film culture, and Newton highlights and contextualizes that 'something' in contemporary work. Infused throughout are musings on the ephemeral nature of stardom, from rise to fall. But rather than presenting a thesis of the mechanisms of gaining and maintaining popularity, this book discusses multiple stars, allowing the reader to make comparisons across time and draw parallels and distinctions."

S. Reysen, Texas A&M University-Commerce | Choice

“Thorough and thoughtful, Newton’s Show People is a major addition to existing literature on the subject of film stardom. I can't wait to read it a second time.”

Gary D. Rhodes, author of "The Perils of Moviegoing in America" and "The Birth of the American Horror Film"

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