Alison Macor

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Making The Best Years of Our Lives - The Hollywood Classic That Inspired a Nation

Released in 1946, The Best Years of Our Lives became an immediate success. Life magazine called it "the first big, good movie of the post-war era" to tackle the "veterans problem." Today we call that problem PTSD, but in the initial aftermath of World War II, the modern language of war trauma did not exist. The film earned the producer Samuel Goldwyn his only Best Picture Academy Award. It offered the injured director, William Wyler, a triumphant postwar return to Hollywood. And for Harold Russell, a double amputee who costarred with Fredric March and Dana Andrews, the film provided a surprising second act.

Award-winning author Alison Macor illuminates the film's journey from script to screen and describes how this authentic motion picture moved audiences worldwide. General Omar Bradley believed The Best Years of Our Lives would help "the American people to build an even better democracy" following the war, and the movie inspired broad reflection on reintegrating the walking wounded. But the film's nuanced critique of American ideals also made it a target, and the picture and its creators were swept up in the anti-Communist witch hunts of the late 1940s. In this authoritative history, Macor chronicles the making and meaning of a film that changed America.

Available now at:
UT Press and Amazon

Listen to Alison's Making Best Years radio interview on "Lights, Camera, Austin" with Robert Sims

Rewrite Man - The Life and Career of Screenwriter Warren Skaaren

A Publishers Weekly Staff Pick
A Texas Monthly "What to Read This Month"
An Alcalde GoodReads Pick
An Austin Monthly Page-Turning Read

Rewrite Man tells an engrossing story about the challenges faced by a top screenwriter at the crossroads of mixed and conflicting agendas in Hollywood. Whether writing love scenes for Tom Cruise on the set of Top Gun, running lines with Michael Keaton on Beetlejuice, or crafting Nietzschean dialogue for Jack Nicholson on Batman, Warren Skaaren collaborated with many of New Hollywood's most powerful stars, producers, and directors. By the time of his premature death in 1990, Skaaren was one of Hollywood's highest-paid writers, although he rarely left Austin, where he lived and worked. Yet he had to battle for shared screenwriting credit on these films, and his struggles yield a new understanding of the secretive screen credit arbitration process -- a process that has only become more intense, more litigious, and more public for screenwriters and their union, the Writers Guild of America, since Skaaren's time. His story, told through a wealth of archival material, illuminates crucial issues of film authorship that have seldom been explored.

Available now at: UT Press,
Amazon, Barnes & Noble,
and BookPeople.

Chainsaws, Slackers, and Spy Kids - Thirty Years of Filmmaking in Austin, Texas

Winner of the 2012 Peter C. Rollins Book Award

Chainsaws, Slackers, and Spy Kids: Thirty Years of Filmmaking in Austin, Texas chronicles the transformation of the Third Coast from myth to reality by recreating Austin’s colorful movie history. Based on revealing interviews with Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, Mike Judge, Quentin Tarantino, Matthew McConaughey, George Lucas, and more than 100 other players in the local and national film industries, this book explores how Austin has become a proving ground for contemporary independent cinema.

Chainsaws, Slackers, and Spy Kids begins in the early 1970s with Tobe Hooper’s horror classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and it follows the development of the Austin film scene through 2001 with the production and release of Rodriguez’s $100 million blockbuster, Spy Kids. Each chapter explores the behind-the-scenes story of a specific movie, such as Linklater’s Dazed and Confused and Judge’s Office Space, against the backdrop of Austin’s ever-expanding film community. In Chainsaws, Slackers, and Spy Kids, former film critic Alison Macor weaves together these and many other stories to craft a lively narrative that tells the rollicking history of moviemaking in Austin, Texas.