Inside Classic Films

Late last night, Deadline.com reported that Warner Bros. Digital Publishing will be releasing a series of eBooks that contain shooting scripts for classic films, with loads of extra content about each movie. The four announced titles are North by Northwest, Casablanca, Ben-Hur, and An American in Paris.

The extras on N by NW include the storyboards for that famous crop-duster scene, Hitchcock’s notes, costume sketches, and post-production memos. The Ben-Hur tome has excerpts from the journal Charlton Heston kept while shooting, makeup and wardrobe tests, and patent designs for MGM’s new widescreen camera. The Casablanca book details the origins of some of the film’s most famous lines, and contains memos from studio president Jack Warner. An American in Paris takes a look at the paintings that inspired the film’s dream ballet sequence and includes lyrics for the musical numbers. They all contain galleries of behind-the-scenes photos and glossaries of film terms.

The books are available for Kindle, Nook, and iBooks. (I’ve linked to the various booksellers above; click on “the editors of Warner Bros. Digital Publishing” to access the other titles from the same bookseller.) I’m aware this is beginning to sound like an infomercial, but no, I’m not getting paid to write this—I never get paid to write anything here—and am only an Amazon affiliate, meaning they’ll give me about thirty cents if you buy it from there.

I’m just excited about these books because they’re treasure troves for movie fans like me. I studied film in college but didn’t have access to this kind of behind-the-scenes information. I can’t wait to see what other titles will get the same treatment.

Are you as excited about these books as I am? Which titles would you like to see Warner Bros. release?

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11 Comments

  • Reply
    le0pard13
    April 30, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Count me in for all of these! Thanks for the heads up, Elyse :-).

  • Reply
    Lauren
    April 30, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    While Ithink this is a nifty idea, I would be MUCH more interested if they were going to be something other than e-books. And you know me, I’m all for ereading and have my own (and several others’) share of ereaders, but if you’re going to include things like storyboards and journal entries, this seems like something that would be best produced in a graphic novel or some such form. Especially in the e-ink format, not sure how such items would translate or if they would shine as they should.

  • Reply
    jenn aka the picky girl
    April 30, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    I totally agree with Lauren. You really want to be able to pore over these. I was just mentioning elsewhere last week that I absolutely love seeing the process in artistic work, whether it’s contact sheets from a photographer, research notes from a novelist, etc.

    I think this could be really cool and interesting, but I want it in my hot little hands.

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    April 30, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    I agree that these would be better as physical books (I picture them as handsome coffee-table books), especially since I seldom read eBooks. But I’m guessing that Warner Bros. is looking for the most economic way to publish them, and for people to own them. Physical reproductions of these artifacts would be costly, and fans would have to fork out maybe $40 per book. These are all going for under $10 each.

    If WB doesn’t want to spend the money to publish these in any other format, and I have to choose between getting a glimpse of these materials and not, I’ll take the eBooks.

  • Reply
    Lauren
    April 30, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Disagree (FIGHT!). I, too, picture them as handsome hardbound books. But that can and has been done economically these days. I harken to a book Jen Forbus put on my radar when it was nominated for an Anthony – Beasts of Burden. It’s hardbound, more graphic style, but still only $13 on Amazon. And in these days when ebooks are oftentimes even more expensive than hardbacks (a pricepoint I will NEVER understand, even if you explained it like you would to a small child or golden retriever – “Margin Call”), are you sure about the $10 price? (I tried to find the link you mention, but again, note the above reference to not being as smart as a small child or golden retriever).

    Not sure I would check these out in e-format.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      April 30, 2012 at 4:11 pm

      You’re lucky you’re only picking a fight with me online and not in person, because I bite, kick, AND throw uncooked rice in people’s eyes.

      The graphic book you mentioned is only 184 pages. BEN-HUR, as an example, is estimated at 797 pgs. Of course, that’s Kindle pages and I don’t know how it translates into paper-book-sized pages, but it seems these books are considerably longer. And they’re $7.99 for Kindle, $8.39 for Nook, and $9.99 for iBooks. I think that’s quite reasonable.

      Which links were you looking for that you couldn’t find?

      • Reply
        Lauren
        April 30, 2012 at 6:40 pm

        I’m ornery, I’m not stupid. The link about the editor that you said took you to the bookseller sites. Ok, the page issue is a good one, you’ve got me there, that would obviously up the price of the book. And I’m guessing on a touch-screen device they might be kinda nifty, but I’m with Jenn, I want to be able to leaf through it. Books like that are just not something I see in e-format. Totally personal and subjective. But I will reserve judgment until I see one on my iPad.

        • Reply
          Pop Culture Nerd
          April 30, 2012 at 8:14 pm

          Just click on the titles in my post. They’ll lead you to different booksellers. N by NW will take you to Amazon, but if you want to buy the Casablanca book instead from Amazon, just click on “the editors of Warner Bros. Digital Publishing” where it says “author” at the top. That will take you to the list of all the Inside the Script titles avail there.

          The American in Paris link will take you to iBooks. You’ll see a list on the left that says “More from the editors of Warner Bros. Digital Publishing” and you can click on the title you want if you don’t want An American. Does that make sense?

          The only site where this doesn’t work is B&N. The Ben-Hur link will take you there, but if you click on “the editors of Warner Bros. Digital Publishing,” it’ll say there are no other titles from that author so you’ll have to do a manual search.

  • Reply
    EIREGO
    April 30, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    It would make a cool coffee table book, but I’ve no interest in an E-book version.

    Does that make me ornery as well?

  • Reply
    Shell Sherree
    May 1, 2012 at 1:33 am

    This is the kind of thing I’d love in coffee table book format, especially An American in Paris. That said, I think it’s very exciting that they are putting these together, regardless of format. For the buffs, it’s great that they can access what went on behind the scenes to learn and be inspired. Thanks for letting us know, PCN!

  • Reply
    Shell Sherree
    May 1, 2012 at 1:34 am

    PS: I’ll bring protective glasses if we’re ever in a fight together. That uncooked rice smarts!

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