Eyman, Scott 1951-
EYMAN, Scott 1951-
Born 1951, in Cleveland, OH; married.
Office—c/o Palm Beach Post, P.O. Box 24700, West Palm Beach, FL 33405. E-mail—[email protected].
Journalist and writer. Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, FL, journalist and critic; Miami News, Miami, FL, journalist and entertainment editor; Palm Beach Post, West Palm Beach, FL, 1989—, books editor, 1991—.
Second Place, Arts and Entertainment Criticism, American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors (AASFE) 14th Annual Excellence-in-Writing Competition, 2002.
(With Louis D. Giannetti) Flashback: A Brief History of Film, Prentice Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1986, 4th edition, 2001.
Five American Cinematographers: Interviews with Karl Struss, Joseph Ruttenberg, James Wong Howe, Linwood Dunn, and William H. Clothier, Scarecrow Press (Metuchen, NJ), 1987.
The Speed of Sound: Hollywood and the Talkie Revolution, 1926-1930, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1997.
Print the Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1999.
Journalist and film critic Scott Eyman has written biographies of the actress Mary Pickford and the directors Ernst Lubitsch and John Ford, in addition to books about the history of cinema. His 1987 book Five American Cinematographers: Interviews with Karl Struss, Joseph Ruttenberg, James Wong Howe, Linwood Dunn, and William H. Clothier provides an honest look into the film industry over the twentieth century and is enriched by anecdotes about famous directors and the actors with whom they worked. John Nangle, in Films in Review, said about the five: "Their styles may have had nothing in common, but the vigor of their work is apparent on each page."
Genevieve Stuttaford of Publishers Weekly called Eyman's biography of the silent film star Mary Pickford "far superior to many movie star biographies." Pickford, born Gladys Smith in Toronto, Canada, in 1892, became the family breadwinner at age six, when she first performed on stage. New York movie producer David Belasco gave her the name Mary Pickford, and she began her career as the sweet, curly haired star of such silent films as Poor Little Rich Girl, Little Annie Rooney, and My Best Girl. Behind her wholesome demeanor was the mind of a shrewd businesswoman, and she soon became the most famous, and most highly paid, woman in film. Her second husband was the screen idol Douglas Fairbanks, with whom Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, and D. W. Griffiths founded United Artists. By age forty Pickford had left the movies, as they turned from silent to talking pictures. Although she remained wealthy, she turned to alcohol abuse and lived her last years as a recluse. In her mid-eighties she was awarded an honorary Oscar.
Leah Rozen, in a review of Mary Pickford, America's Sweetheart for People, wrote that Eyman presented Pickford's story "with detail, perspective and a measured affection." Saturday Night reviewer George Galt found the book "prodigious in its research" but containing "flat-footed and disjointed prose," while Spectator reviewer Lindsay Anderson called it "authoritative as well as gripping" and a "remarkable" and "valuable" book.
Eyman's fourth book, Ernst Lubitsch: Laughter in Paradise, is a biography of the German-born Jewish film director, who came to the United States in 1922 and spent a decade at Paramount, where he was made head of production in the 1930s. Lubitsch made a smooth transition to sound pictures from silent movies. He directed such actors as Jeanette McDonald, Jack Benny, Greta Garbo, and Miriam Hopkins in some of their finest performances. His movies included Trouble in Paradise, Heaven Can Wait, and To Be or Not to Be. The director was known for his intriguing sets and his sexual innuendos in a time when the content of adult comedies was far more restricted than today. His was the "Lubitsch touch," which became known to moviemakers and moviegoers alike.
Critics offered praise for Eyman's research and writing, although several expressed disappointment with the manner in which Eyman integrates the discussion of Lubitsch's personal life and his career. Dave Kehr, writing in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, thought that Eyman did "a superlative job of arranging the facts … though he misses the connection between the life and the work." Washington Post Book World reviewer Joel E. Siegel found the book well researched but noted the author's "inability to interpret and articulate the fruits of his scholarship." Atlantic Monthly reviewer Dennis Drabelle called it "solid but awkwardly written." Henry Zorich, writing in Rapport, stated that Eyman "devotes a great deal to allow us to know the man himself, and based on what we learn, that wasn't an easy feat."
Eyman's 1997 book The Speed of Sound: Hollywood and the Talkie Revolution, 1926-1930 covers the transition, in the late 1920s, from silent pictures to sound film and the impact of this transition on actors, directors, producers, and the public. Mick LaSalle, in a review for the San Francisco Chronicle, pointed out that Eyman's book is "the first to deal extensively with all three aspects of the transition—business, art and technology." Cineaste reviewer Thomas Doherty concluded that the book "appreciates both the glory of the silent cinema working at the peak of its powers … and the excitement of a new technology being born and obliterating the old art, with no regrets." New York Times Book Review contributor Richard Barrios questioned Eyman's "relentless procession of vignettes" and said the book "does not really convey" the breadth of "grandeur and greed and folly" of the age, but Gavin Lambert, writing in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, described the book as a "colorful and richly researched history."
Print the Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford is a biography of Hollywood director John Ford, whose career spanned the first half of the twentieth century, from 1914 to 1962. Ford made movies that fed his perception of the American dream, about the valor of the West, World War II, and the working man. His films included The Iron Horse, Stagecoach, Drums along the Mohawk, The Grapes of Wrath, Fort Apache, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Ford worked with such stars as Harry Carey, Will Rogers, Shirley Temple, John Wayne, John Carradine, and Henry Fonda. One of the industry's most successful directors and a multiple Academy Award winner, Ford was an elusive man who cared more about his art than his family and his health, as evidenced by his alcoholism.
Tom Huntington, reviewing the book in American History, commented that Eyman "manages to portray Ford's monstrous side without alienating the reader, and he also finds evidence of the man's better nature." Similarly, National Review contributor Randy Roberts called Eyman's detailing of Ford's professional life "brilliantly successful." New Republic reviewer David Thomson noted that "Eyman sometimes seems more fixed on the riddle of Ford's psyche than on the depth of his movies." But Malcolm Jones, writing in Newsweek, concluded that "everything about this model biography is a pleasure." And St. Louis Post-Dispatch contributor Allen Barra dubbed Print the Legend "one of the most important books ever written on the subject of movies." Actor-director-writer Peter Bogdanovich, in a review for the Wall Street Journal, commented, "The book captures extremely well the twofold emotions of worship and terror that Ford generally provoked" and called Eyman's biography "the best … yet published about the creator of work that constitutes America's single most representative and complicated national cinematic treasure."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Enterprise, April-May, 2000, Brock Yates, "Model 'A' Ford," p. 58.
American History, June, 2000, Tom Huntington, review of Print the Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford, pp. 66-67, and "Talking with Scott Eyman," p. 66.
Atlantic Monthly, March, 1994, Dennis Drabelle, "A Touch of Sophistication," p. 124.
Booklist, October 15, 1993, Gordon Flagg, review of Ernst Lubitsch: Laughter in Paradise, p. 406; February 15, 1997, Gordon Flagg, review of The Speed of Sound: Hollywood and the Talkie Revolution, 1926-1930, p. 991; October 1, 1999, Gordon Flagg, review of Print the Legend, p. 333.
Chicago Sun-Times, December 29, 1999, Robert Sklar, review of Print the Legend, p. 44.
Cineaste, summer, 1998, Thomas Doherty, review of review of The Speed of Sound, pp. 51-52.
Film Quarterly, winter, 1998, Matt Severson, review of The Speed of Sound, p. 61.
Films in Review, May, 1988, John Nangle, review of Five American Cinematographers: Interviews with Karl Struss, Joseph Ruttenberg, James Wong Howe, Linwood Dunn, and William H. Clothier, p. 311.
Library Journal, February 15, 1997, Thomas Wiener, review of The Speed of Sound, p. 137; February 1, 1998, Barbara Mann, review of The Speed of Sound, pp. 130-131; October 1, 1999, Stephen Rees, review of Print the Legend, p. 96.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, November 28, 1993, Dave Kehr, "When a Gesture Told All," pp. 2, 11; March 30, 1997, Gavin Lambert, review of The Speed of Sound, p. 9:1.
National Review, December 31, 1999, Randy Roberts, "The Mythmaker," p. 46.
New Republic, January 31, 2000, David Thomson, "How False Was My Valley," pp. 40-45.
Newsweek, November 15, 1999, Malcolm Jones, "Cut! And That's a Wrap!," p. 90.
New York Times Book Review, March 9, 1997, Richard Barrios, "All Talking!," p. 20; January 9, 2000, Richard Schickel, "The Man Who Shot the West," p. 9.
People, May 21, 1990, review of Mary Pickford, America's Sweetheart, p. 40.
Publishers Weekly, February 2, 1990, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Mary Pickford, p. 70; October 11, 1993, review of Ernst Lubitsch, p. 74; January 20, 1997, review of The Speed of Sound, p. 385; October 11, 1999, review of Print the Legend, p. 66.
Rapport, June-July, 1994, Henry Zorich, "The 1994 Movie Book Roundup," pp. 14-17.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 2, 2000, Allen Barra, "Contradictory John Ford Is the Stuff of Legend," p. F10.
San Francisco Chronicle, March 11, 1997, Mick LaSalle, "The Film Innovation Everybody Was Talking About," p. E5:1.
Saturday Night, March, 1990, George Galt, review of Mary Pickford, p. 56.
Spectator (London, England), April 25, 1992, Lindsay Anderson, "The Guiding Star of a Whole Brave Nation," p. 32.
Tribune Books, January 2, 1994, Bruce Cook, "The Lubitsch Touch," p. 7.
Wall Street Journal, November 26, 1999, Peter Bogdanovich, "The Man Who Shot the Movies," p. W8:1.
Washington Post Book World, May 13, 1990, Dennis Drabelle, review of Mary Pickford, p. 10; January 2, 1994, Joel E. Siegel, "Importance of Being Ernst," p. 3.
American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors,http://www.aasfe.org/ (November 5, 2003), "AASFE's 2002 Writing Competition Winners."
Palm Beach Post Online,http://www.palmbeachpost.com/ (November 5, 2003), "Eyman, Scott."*