Category Archives: movies
Return of the Jedi: The Original Topps Trading Card Series (Volume Three) edited by Gary Gerani (2016)
The third installment of Abrams’ Star Wars trading card books focuses on the third (now sixth) movie in the franchise, Return of the Jedi. As with the first two books, product designer Gary Gerani recounts the process of reading the screenplay and selecting photos from LucasFilm’s library for use on the cards. It is clear from his writing that by the time they were readying this product for release, he had become quite a fan of George Lucas’ space opera.
Each Return of the Jedi Topps card is reproduced in this volume, with the front and back of each receiving its own page. This is a change from the Empire Strikes Back book, in which the horizontal cards were shown with the front and back on a single page. Gerani occasionally writes a sentence or two about specific cards, but for the most part they are allowed to stand on their own. As with the previous two volumes, bonus cards are again included with this third volume.
I was not even ten years old when Return of the Jedi was originally released, and while I have a handful of the vintage cards from this series, I never came close to completing the entire set. To have all of the cards presented here in one volume, in a much more affordable format than tracking down the originals, is a fantastic way to relive my formative collecting years without breaking the bank.
This book sat on my desk for over a month before I decided to finally open it. I purchased it after the author’s passing, and avoided any reviews or even descriptions of what was contained within these pages, other than that it contained the late Carrie Fisher’s found diaries, her “recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie.” If you are not aware of the contents of The Princess Diarist, be warned: there are spoilers ahead. Go back now if you plan to read this book and don’t want to know anything about it (assuming you have not already read other reviews).
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Hammer is the legendary British film company that dominated the horror genre for decades. In The Hammer Vault, author Marcus Hearn recaps many of the films produced by Hammer with scant notes about the release, controversies, and images of promotional posters, stills, and props from the movies. He begins in 1954 with The Quartermass Xperiment, and concludes with 2014’s The Woman in Black: Angel of Death.
Most films are covered in two pages, while a handful only receive one page. It is certainly interesting to see the various images, such as annotated script pages, newsletters, and press passes to advance screenings, but two or three paragraphs about the films leave the reader wanting more.
The Hammer Vault is 12.9 inches by 10.1 inches and 184 pages long. It is an enjoyable overview of the company’s history, but is by no means exhaustive. The real value of this books is in the images rather than the text.
Originally published in 2010, The Art of Hammer is a visual guide to the history of Hammer Films’ releases dating back to the 1950s. The artwork is stunning, at times risqué, and along with the films, often caused controversy upon release. The artwork on the front (pictured above) comes from Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell, the 1972 movie starring Peter Cushing as Baron Victor Frankenstein/Dr. Carl Victor and David Prowse as the Creature/Herr Schneider. The book also comes with a jacket featuring artwork from Dracula A.D. 1972 starring Christopher Lee. The 200-page book is large at 10.3 by 13.1 inches, heavy and sturdy.
Except for a couple of introductory pages written by Marcus Hearn, the book is largely made up of images of promotional posters from around the world with brief captions identifying the film, as well as the dimensions of the original piece and the illustrator (if known). The author cautions in the introduction that The Art of Hammer is not intended to be a complete catalogue of Hammer posters, but a general overview of “examples from some of the most inventive and controversial marketing campaigns in post-war film history.”
As many of the original pieces were destroyed by theaters after they were used, a book like this serves as an inexpensive way to look into the past and see how far the art of movie posters has come, or how far it has fallen.
(January 22, 1940 – January 27, 2017)
Veteran actor John Hurt succumbed cancer at age 77. His career dates back to the 1960s; his notable recent roles included the War Doctor in the Doctor Who television series and Ollivander in the Harry Potter films.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume Two introduction and commentary by Gary Gerani (2016)
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume Two
introduction and commentary by Gary Gerani
Abrams ComicArts, 2016
Many fans of the greatest space opera contend that the best film of the series is Episode V, better known as The Empire Strikes Back. It is fitting, then, that the book chronicling Topps trading cards for the film exceeds the initial volume in quality. The creative driving force behind the design and writing of the cards, Gary Gerani, tells the process of meeting with LucasFilm executives to read the script and select images for the cards. The movie’s big reveal was kept secret from Topps at the time; Gerani recalls the first time he learned of Darth Vader’s familial relationship with Luke Skywalker was when he saw the film in Manhattan.
Initially, Gernai and Topps were told they could not use Yoda in their set, as he was a “mysterious creative element” that George Lucas and Irvin Kershner wanted to keep him a surprise for the public. Lucas eventually relented, and Yoda is prominently displayed on several cards in the series. Gerani wrote the copy for many of the cards, making up dialogue that fit with several of the characters’ personalities.
In addition to the reproductions of all three series of cards, front and back, the book also features images of sell sheets, packaging, stickers, and the 30-card set of giant photocards. Also, as in the first volume, actual promotional trading cards are also including with the hard copy purchase. In addition to that, Topps has included a code for a free pack of digital trading cards on their Star Wars Card Trader app.
(November 4, 1925 – April 17, 2016)
Perhaps best known for her role on Everybody Loves Raymond, Doris Roberts will by remembered by me as Mildred Krebs on Remington Steele. She passed away on Sunday at the age of 90.