01/06/2012. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: McFarland. 226 page illustrated indexed softcover. Price: GBP21.95 (UK), $25.00 (US). ISBN: 978-0-7864-6936-9.
check out websites: www.mcfarlandpub.com and www.eurospanbookstore.com
Oddly, ‘ The Dinosaur Films Of Ray Harryhausen’ by Roy P. Webber, covers a lot more than this or its sub-title, ‘ Features, Early 16mm Experiments And Unrealised Projects’. Webber places Harryhausen’s career in context to his mentor, Willis O’Brien, and then proceeds to cover their films in detail as well as other similar films. So, for example, not only do you learn about ‘ The Beast From 20, 000 Fathoms, but also more about ‘ The Giant Behemoth’ and ‘ Gorgo’ as well. There are loads of rare stills, model close-ups and storyboards, as well as explanations as to how some of the effects are created, including matts, back and forward projection as well as twin filming for different angles to avoid repetitive shots but using the same animation. Considering Harryhausen’s liking for dinosaurs, it’s hardly surprising that the majority of his films are covered here including ‘ Mysterious Island’, ‘ One Million Years B.C.’ and ‘ The Valley Of Gwangi’ and the more obscure Irwin Allen film, ‘ The Animal World’.
If you’re into Ray Harryhausen’s animated films, then I’m sure this book will be automatically added to your collection. If you want a book that is going to act as a decent introduction to his work then this one is definitely a must. As Webber himself explains where there is contradictions in other books, he strives to put the record straight here as with Harryhausen using his mother’s old fur coat for fabric was actually done with her permission.
This is a depthy read and Webber’s writing style makes it a book that you don’t want to put down because you learn so much about everything related to these Harryhausen films and people who were involved in it. Webber observes criticism and praise as well as gives his own comment as well, making this an extremely rounded and thoughtful book so don’t move in slow-motion to get a copy, books about Ray Harryhausen don’t stay in print or available for long.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA