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Screen World Swan Song
by Betty Jo Tucker

Most movie fans are thinking about the films of 2013 this month, but Barry Monush has managed to draw my attention back to the cinematic offerings of last year instead. How did he accomplish this? By putting together Screen World 64: The Films of 2012, the latest -- and unfortunately last -- volume of a beloved anthology series that’s been published each year since 1949. I’m a fan of these definitive Screen World books and, like so many film buffs, will definitely miss them.    

This new edition is particularly impressive -- starting out with a dedication to one of my favorite actors (Christopher Walken, for being “excitingly unpredictable on film”) and Monush’s well-written, informative analysis “In Praise of the Not-so- Misérables.”  Because I love movie musicals, it’s a treat to see Les Misérables included among the 2012 films praised by Monush. “It proved to be not only a rousing adaptation of the stage smash but a musical of tremendous box office drawing power,” he writes and then explains some of its many highlights. Sadly, the only movie musical on my Top Ten Films list this year is Frozen, Disney’s animated version of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” a charming family movie but one lacking the depth of story and musical power found in Les Misérables. Monush also compliments such diverse offerings as Argo, Lincoln, The Dark Knight Rises, The Campaign, Skyfall, The Best Exotic Marigold Motel, The Impossible, The Dark Knight Rises, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Frankeweenie, Jeff, Who Lives at Home, Django Unchanged and many more.  

I'm also pleased that Monush pulls no punches when criticizing filmdom’s continuing emphasis on too many sequels as well as a lack of moviegoer appreciation for more original work. Still, it’s abundantly clear how much he loves the cinema! In fact, Monush lists his major interests as “Movies, Motion Pictures, and Film – in that order.” His next book will be about The Sound of Music, and I can hardly wait to read that one! (Monush has edited several previous Screen World  books and is the author of Music on Film: West Side Story, Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the Silent Era to 1965, Hollywood Musicals: Year by Year, and Everybody’s Talkin’: The Top Films of 1965-1969. He’s also co-author of Lucille Ball FAQ.)   

Among the other highlights of Screen World 64 are:

An illustrated listing of every significant American and foreign film released in the U.S. during 2012.

Complete film information, including cast, credits, production company, date released, rating capsule plot summary and running time.

Full-page photographs of the four Academy Award-winning actors (Jennifer Lawrence, Daniel Day-Lewis, Christoph Waltz, Anne Hathaway).

Photos of all acting nominees.

A look at 2012’s most promising new screen personalities, including the amazing Tom Holland (The Impossible) and the show-stopping Samantha Barks (Les Misérables).

A list of the 100 top box-office films of 2013, led by Marvel’s Avengers.

Obituaries for 2012.

Screen World 64: The Films of 2012, published by Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, contains everything you would want to know about last year’s screen offerings. It’s a stunning swan song for this remarkable film anthology series.

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