SCREEN SAVERS II: MY GRAB BAG OF CLASSIC MOVIES is the sequel to his very enjoyable SCREEN SAVERS: 40 REMARKABLE MOVIES AWAITING REDISCOVERY.
As its title indicates, the original SCREEN SAVERS called attention to relatively little-known or underappreciated films, including titles which are personal favorites of mine such as IT STARTED WITH EVE (1941), RACHEL AND THE STRANGER (1948), and THE TALL TARGET (1951).
SCREEN SAVERS II starts off sharing ten essays which didn't make the final cut for the original SCREEN SAVERS. It's a great list which includes Joan Fontaine's IVY (1947), Alan Ladd's BRANDED (1950), James Stewart in THE FAR COUNTRY (1955), and four Joel McCrea titles. I definitely share the author's appreciation of Mr. McCrea!
Section II of the book was adapted from posts on DiLeo's website. He writes about a number of other excellent films such as APARTMENT FOR PEGGY (1948) with Jeanne Crain, MY REPUTATION (1946) with Barbara Stanwyck, and SADDLE THE WIND (1958) with Robert Taylor. I liked that he mentions some obscurities such as GENTLE ANNIE (1944), which has a really lovely performance by Harry Morgan, and THE ROMANCE OF ROSY RIDGE (1947), in which Janet Leigh made her film debut.
The "blog post" reviews aren't as detailed as those in Section I, but they're still very much worth reading and definitely help whet the appetite to try those titles yet unseen. As a fan of the underrated John Lund, I'm particularly curious about MISS TATLOCK'S MILLIONS (1948), given DiLeo's rave for Lund's performance.
This section of the book also includes various other entries, such as centennial tributes and obituaries.
The final section of the book consists of movie trivia quizzes which I thought were quite good, providing some fun challenges. I particularly liked a quiz where various food-related events had to be matched with the correct titles, such as naming the film where Thanksgiving is ruined when three children realize they knew the turkey personally, or the film in which a trio of friends regularly orders oysters, searching for a pearl.
Other quizzes include matching 10 actresses to the film in which each played a princess, or matching a list of fictional movie studios with the films in which they appeared.
This is another good book by DiLeo, who also wrote the excellent TENNESSEE WILLIAMS AND COMPANY: HIS ESSENTIAL SCREEN ACTORS. It was an entertaining read, and I'm sure other classic film fans will enjoy both the book and the author's movie recommendations.
My sincere thanks to John DiLeo and Hansen Publishing Group for providing me with a review copy of this book.