On the 8th of October 1934, long before the wider world knew him from his Letter from America broadcasts, his television series America, or his introductions to Masterpiece Theatre, Alistair Cooke sat down at a BBC microphone to give his first radio talk. His subject was cinema. Cooke began film reviewing in the 1920s as a Cambridge undergraduate, and continued to broadcast on cinema from New York. Under his watchful gaze, Hollywood reached its Golden Age, only to be tarnished by television; he clocked every new technological development, from the arrival of talkies to the video cassette. He also observed cinema's personalities, writing tributes to Marilyn Monroe, Gary Cooper, James Cagney and others, always illuminating their special gifts and the way they reflected the American scene.
Since the 1930s, Alistair Cooke's lively film reviews have largely slumbered unpublished and unheard. Alistair Cooke at the Movies selects the most sparkling. We meet Cooke the biographer, affectionately recalling various stars he knew and admired, among them Charlie Chaplin and Humphrey Bogart. This is a fascinating new collection for Cooke's devoted readers and listeners, and for anyone interested in the 20th century parade of American and European films.