Nick Clooney and David
Broadcaster Nick Clooney discusses his new book
MAYSVILLE, Ky. - At a recent book signing, broadcaster and columnist Nick Clooney discussed the thought process that went into creating his new book - "The Movies That Changed Us."
Clooney recently held a book-signing in his native hometown of Maysville. The father of Hollywood heartthrob George Clooney now lives in Augusta about 15 miles down the road.
The book is the result of a conversation Clooney had with a literary agent who had been trying to get him to write a book while he was working for American Movie Classics. Clooney told the agent he didn't have time.
"I think it was my last day (at AMC), she called and said, 'Well, now you have time,'" Clooney said.
Clooney was also reluctant because there have been so many books written about movies. The agent then came up with the idea of books that changed things, Clooney said.
Certain movies have been known to influence the movies that came after them, but Clooney's book examines movies that changed our culture.
Clooney said he's been watching movies since he was very young, and he thought he could write the book in about three months. Instead it took "forever - just forever."
Once he got into it, the research was "leading him around by the nose," Clooney said "It was a very hard news job."
In order to show that a film was the catalyst of change, he had to show that the film came prior to the social or artistic trend. Clooney found that films that are considered great don't necessarily instigate change.
Only five or six of the movies he chose are what he would term "great movies." "Citizen Kane," for example, didn't change anything. Clooney said he tried to find a way to fit it into the book, but the movie didn't even have an effect on the films that followed.
"It stands alone in isolated splendor, one of a kind," Clooney wrote in the book's introduction.
Still, choosing the movies for the book proved difficult.
"Getting down to 150 wasn't hard, but getting it to 15 or 20 was," he said.
The book includes a preponderance of movies from the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Movies of that time period had more of an impact because more people saw them, Clooney concluded.
In the 1930s, 73 percent of Americans went to the movies weekly. Only about 9 percent now go to the movies each week, Clooney said.
To get an idea of which contemporary films might be influencing our culture, Clooney conducted a survey of 200 high school American history teachers. The results showed that more than 80 percent of the teachers had used "Saving Private Ryan" in a class.
"So, 'Saving Private Ryan' is having its chance, it would appear, to make an impression on young minds. It will be decades before we know how the impact plays out," Clooney says.
The classic "Gone with the Wind" and a most recent film - "Bowling For Columbine" - were both included in Clooney's book.