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Sarah Bernhardt in the Theatre of Films and Sound Recordings [Hardcover]

David W. Menefee , Kevin Brownlow

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Book Description

October 2003 078641636X 978-0786416363 annotated edition
Exhaustive research in every major archive of the world has created this compilation of information and images focusing on Bernhardt's films and twenty early wax-cylinder and disc recordings. Detailed analyses of the motion pictures include plot synopses, casts, production notes, and contemporary reviews. Complete records of Bernhardt's work on stage, in films, and recordings are annotated and indexed. The book includes such rare items as dramatic readings by Bernhardt on early wax cylinders and 78rpm (transcribed in the original French and translated into English for the first time), as well as stills from a previously unknown film (depicting the death scene from the 1921 Daniel).

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company; annotated edition edition (October 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078641636X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786416363
  • Product Dimensions: 26.2 x 17.5 x 1.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 458 g

Product Description

About the Author

David W. Menefee, formerly a contributing writer and marketing representative for The Dallas Times Herald and The Dallas Morning News, is a book editor for Brown Books Publishing Group. He is also the author of The First Female Stars: Women of the Silent Era (Greenwood 2004), The First Male Stars: Men of the Silent Era (Bear Manor Media 2007), George O'Brien: A Man's Man in Hollywood (Info Net Publishing 2008), and Between Bernhardt and Duse: The Rise and Fall of Lou-Tellegen (Em. Querido 2008.) He lives in Dallas, Texas. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book with delightful details of her career. Dec 26 2007
By Randy L. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Author David W. Menefee obviously has taken tremendous care with this finely-crafted book. I am so grateful that McFarland decided to publish it. Each chapter is filled with intriguing information about Sarah Bernhardt's motion pictures and sound recordings, and it also includes a biographical treatment that is short, informative, and accurate. This beginning to the book explains why Sarah was such an important figure in our theater history, and why her work in the new mediums of motion pictures and sound recordings served as a catalyst to galvanize the growth of these new industries. In this book, there are hundreds of rare photographs, including many from her motion pictures that I could never have afforded to buy even if they could be located. I particularly loved the touching account of Sarah's final work on a film that was made while she was literally dying. Her story is genuinely inspiring. To have all this included in one book makes it a delightful compilation of information and images that I treasure.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Book about Bernhardt Films and Recordings March 11 2011
By A. Rubi - Published on Amazon.com
This book shows great research. I greatly enjoyed reading the biographical part at the beginning, and I found the filmography most informative. The section on Bernhardt's recordings was unique, and the translations of those recordings are wonderful, poetic, and moving. As if all this wasn't enough, the book nearly bursts with hundreds of rare photographs and illustrations, obviously the result of a great deal of time spent on research. My hat's off to the author for an excellent work that adds much to the body of knowledge about Sarah Bernhardt.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Sarah Berhardt Dec 11 2007
By Susan D. Spicer - Published on Amazon.com
I love this book. David Menefee's research is incredible. All of Sarah Bernhardt's biographers only touched on her films and sound recordings, if they mention them at all, and so this book fills a much-needed niche about the work of this great artist. Not only has he drawn from hundreds of rare sources for information, but his discovery of Daniel, one of Sarah's previously unknown films, is nothing short of a miracle. That film is profiled with never-before-seen screen shots and a detailed synopsis. All of her other films are richly researched and include fascinating production notes, plot synopses, rare photographs, and reviews from every film magazine that is known to have survived. The touching account of the making of Sarah's final performance in a film is quite moving. The information in the chapters on her sound recordings came from many rare sources, including the Thomas Edison Museum. The book even includes the first-ever French/English translations of all of her existing recorded dramatic recitations, which were done by Professor Alissa Webel from Georgetown University. The rest of the book is overfilled with hundreds of rare photographs, many of which have not been in circulation for more than eighty years. The pictures alone are enough of a reason to get this book, but there is so much more in it that I found it to be a magnificent compilation that reveals everything about Sarah Bernhardt's work in films and on sound recordings. I highly recommend it.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Enthusiastic but misguided July 10 2007
By John C. Mucci - Published on Amazon.com
While the subject of this book--the audio recording and film productions of Sarah Bernhardt--is one that has been much needed, Mr. Menefee is not necessarily the best person to have written it. While his enthusiasm for the topic is high, his knowledge of theater, film, and sound recording is deplorably low, making this book sometimes an embarrassingly poor reference work.

The chapter on the genesis of making records in Edison's studio, for example, seems to be a hotchpotch of information, perhaps gleaned by asking someone about it and then writing up what he think he heard. Menefee reports the extraordinary idea that cylinders revolving at 90 rpm hold less information than those revolving at 160, which is patently absurd (the rpms would make the fidelity better, but with the same groove density there would be more information at 90). In effect, the faster cyinders did hold more information, but not for the reason he cites; to make it worse, Menefee does talk about groove density later on, confusingly contradicting what he's just written above.

He uses the phrase 'her unique vibrato' over and over to describe Bernhardt's voice, as though she were the only actor to use such a thing. Of course, in the days before amplification in large theaters, that was *the* way actors were able to enunciate: to spit out consonants and hold the vowels as though they were musical tones with a vibrato. If you listen to *any* recording of an actor of that age, you will hear it (Coquelin, Otis Skinner, Forbes-Robertson, even Barrymore).

There are lots of little slips like that which make the book depressingly frustrating. It would gain 75% just to be better copy-edited by someone who knew both French and English, so as not to be startled by something as odd as "Cyrano de Bèrgèrac."

Finally, it is too bad that such a book couldn't be merely the liner-notes to a DVD that contained the audio selections (there aren't many that survive), and the extant film: but that is far too much to ask anyone at this point in time.

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