The Films of James Bridges


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About the Book

Originally arriving in Hollywood to pursue an acting career, James Bridges went on to write and direct such popular films as The Paper Chase, The China Syndrome and Urban Cowboy. This book tells the story of his life and career, helped by new interviews with friends and collaborators; it also offers a detailed analysis of each of Bridges’ eight feature films, including his lesser-known cult classics September 30, 1955 and Mike’s Murder.

About the Author(s)

Peter Tonguette is a film critic, essayist and author. His work has appeared in such publications as Cineaste, CinemaEditor, and Senses of Cinema.

Bibliographic Details

Peter Tonguette

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 212
Bibliographic Info: 6 photos, notes, filmography, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3949-2
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8599-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix
Preface      1

1. An Arkansan      5
2. Making Babies … and Movies      17
3. Hart and Kingsfield, Bridges and Houseman: The Paper Chase      39
4. Going Home: September 30, 1955      62
5. Going Nuclear (and Commercial): The China Syndrome and Urban Cowboy      104
6. What Became of Jimmy J.: Mike’s Murder      126
7. Perfecting Perfect      144
8. Bright Lights, Big City, Big Legacy      156

Directorial Filmography      173
Notes      177
Bibliography      191
Index      197

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Peter Tonguette, one of our finest young scholars, follows his excellent book on Orson Welles with a warm, lively, and entirely fresh portrait of James Bridges and his films. Many film scholars are content to rehash old ground, but not Tonguette. He tackles the subject of an unjustly neglected American filmmaker and does exemplary and resourceful research in helping bring him alive as a man and as a director. Tonguette’s portrait of Bridges is engaging, entertaining, and deeply insightful, and his analyses of the films are astute and should make readers who have neglected this important filmmaker look back at Bridges’s work to study it more closely. Those who already know Bridges will find here many new and illuminating facets in the man and his films. Best of all, The Films of James Bridges has the quality of passionate involvement that a first-rate film book should have.”—Joseph McBride, author of Steven Spielberg: A Biography, Searching for John Ford, and Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success
  • “Scrupulously researched, elegantly written…here is a close, sensitive (and admirably fact-based) reading of one of the most powerful and personal filmmakers of the 1970s and 80s, whose work merits much wider recognition”—Dave Kehr (