The B List: The National Society of Film Critics on, The Low Budet Beauties,Genre Bending Mavericks, and Cult Classics We Love
The B list: The National Society of Film Critics on the Low-Budget Beauties, Genre-Bending Mavericks, And Cult Classics We Love edited by David Sterritt and John Anderson is a wonderful book for those of us who love the B Movie genre. The Book is divided up into nine sections on genres of B movies with five or six reviews of classics of each genre, that also includes a bit of info on the director or on the making of the movie . This book is not for the casual movie goer, as it does go deeper into the film criticism vernacular and),but is highly enjoyable and well worth reading.
The eleven major genres covered in this book are, 1). Film Noir (the black and white movies of the 40′ and 50′ that defined a whole different world that most people of the era never saw),2). Neo Noir (modern movies made in the spirit of old fashioned Noir),3). From Grind House to Art House -Madness and Melodrama. (splatter movies or the movies that graphically show the violence)(Which also contains one of my favorite horror movies, the English movie, Peeping Tom, which not only is one of the scariest serial killer movies you’ll ever see, but literally ended the career of famed British director Micheal Powell.) 4). Sci Fi, 5). Films of Horror and Terror (mostly movies which were horror movies but much less graphic that category 3, 6).Road movies(such classics as Vanishing Point, and Two Lane Blacktop), 7). Westerns, 8) Political pictures ( which is one of the more subtle categories as the political point being made isn’t always an obvious one), 9).Music, Rock, Pop and Beyond.(Just what it says on the tin), 10). Cult Classics, ( oddly the one category where I’d heard of the least number of the movies), and 11). Last but certainly not least Midnight movies…We all know which ones they are…..but this chapter includes one of the most underrated movies….Targets…Boris Karloff’s last movie and one heck of a subtle well crafted horror movie, which made for an astonishing movie directorial debut for Peter Bogdanovich.
The critics try very hard not to provide spoilers for the endings or major plot points for all of the movies,but in a few cases it can’t be helped. In discussing what makes a particular movie so good sometimes it’s necessary to “spill the beans” so to speak. And whether or not you agree with the critics choices or the points they make it’s a great collection of critical pieces on what is a frequently looked down upon genre.
Incidentally in introduction, despite saying they’ll not provide a definition of a B picture, they do give one of the best ones I’ve ever heard. If I may be allow to quote giving full credit to the editors, ,” Within the film industry, the term originally meant a low budget quickie, period. We’ve taken it in it’s broadest sense, referring to any and all movies made with modest means, maverick sensibilities, and a knack for bending familiar genres into fresh and unfamiliar shapes. Beyond this we’ve left it to the writers to follow their own magnificent obsessions in their own ornery ways, and the results of their labors have the anything–goes vitality of a dusk to dawn B movie marathon.” Which not only sums up B movies in general, but is a great summation of the theme of the book.
The B List:The National Film Society of Film Critics on The Low-Budget Beauties, Genre-Bending Mavericks, and Cult Classics We Love edited by Davide Sterritt and John Anderson is Highly Recommended