From a legendary film critic and movie fan extraordinaire, the highlights reel of a life spent at the movies
Richard Schickel has seen, by his own estimate, more than twenty thousand films. He has been a reviewer since 1965 (long for Time magazine), has written almost forty books on the subject, and has produced and directed thirty documentaries. He has counted as personal friends many of the leading filmmakers of the twentieth century. Call it “obsession,” “lunacy,” or a “grand passion” (Schickel grants all three), but there’s simply no one who knows film better. Now Schickel gives us the ultimate summing up: a history of film as he’s seen—and lived—it, a tour of his favorites, a master class in what makes a film soar or flop.
Schickel’s no-holds-barred, often raucously irreverent opinions can range from panning classics, to spotlighting forgotten treasures, to defending the art of “popular” genres such as horror, westerns, screwball comedy, and noir. Beyond his picks and pans, Schickel offers a wealth of behind-the-scenes anecdotes (a love note from Marlene Dietrich, Frank Capra’s unlikely path to success, Annie Hall’s original title), career studies of our greatest performers and auteurs, and candidly intimate glimpses of his own life in pictures (an evening with Greta Garbo, John Ford’s advice on directing, a “dust-up” in defense of Monty Python).
Above all, Schickel gives us a collection of the true gems, the immortal moments that have stuck with him over a lifetime of movie watching—the transcendent scenes, characters, lines, shots, scores, even lighting cues that offer, each in their way, pure “movie magic.” Buster Keaton, His Girl Friday, Ingrid Bergman, Taxi Driver, Star Wars, Stanley Kubrick, Pulp Fiction—Schickel reveals all the films and the forces behind them that have kept him coming back for more.
An essential addition to any cinephile’s library, Keepers is the curation of a brilliant connoisseur and critic, but more than that, it’s a love letter to film from one of its most dedicated devotees.
About the Author
RICHARD SCHICKEL is a film critic, documentary filmmaker, and movie historian. His books include Conversations with Scorsese; Clint Eastwood: A Biography; Intimate Strangers: The Culture of Celebrity in America; and D. W. Griffith: An American Life. His documentaries include Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin; Woody Allen: A Life in Film; and Shooting War, about combat cameramen in World War II. He has held a Guggenheim Fellowship and was awarded the British Film Institute Book Prize, the Maurice Bessy Prize for film criticism, and the William K. Everson Award for his work in film history.
“Only a few critics are worth listening to, and Richard Schickel, at 82, stands among them… Thoughtful and accessible.” —The Wall Street Journal
"One factor that sets Keepers apart from other books extolling Hollywood's best... is its author, film critic and historian Richard Schickel, a keeper himself after a half-century of ruminating about the cinema. For kindred spirits who would rather watch a movie than do pretty much anything else, reading Schickel's memoir is like paging through a family photo album with a wise and witty elder who tells you what he thinks is going on around a picture's edges." —The Associated Press
"Schickel's insights, when he chooses to go a little deeper, are terrific and accomplish what they should in a book like Keepers: Make you want to see the movies he's writing about." —Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel
“A sweet and softly sad book… It manages to stimulate your mind and break your heart at the same time… Elegantly written… It delivers an emotional wallop long after you close its pages.” —James Grissom
"Schickel found writing this collection 'a rather playful business'; readers will find it infused with his joy." —Kirkus
“Dick Schickel defines his obsession by saying that movies are ‘in some sense, nothing—a pastime, an evening’s entertainment. And yet they are, for quite a few of us, everything.’ That signals a true memoir of a life at the movies, and as always Schickel is elegant, wry, sad sometimes, but then lit up by something wonderful on the screen. I think this is his most touching book.” —David Thomson