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Smithtown’s John DiLeo pens ‘Ten Movies at a Time’

"Ten Movies at a Time: A 350-Film Journey Through Hollywood and America 1930-1970" by John DiLeo. Credit: Hansen Publishing Group

Movies should be a reflection of life. It’s a concept that film historian John DiLeo embraces wholeheartedly in his latest book “Ten Movies at a Time: A 350-Film Journey Through Hollywood and America 1930-1970” (Hansen $29.95).

DiLeo, who hails from Smithtown, divides his tome into 35 topics ranging from “Lost Generation Found: Making Peace With World War I (1930-33)” to “Bonnie & Clyde & Ted & Alice: Approaching the 1970s (1968-70)” and chooses 10 films from that period that best exemplify what was going on in America at that time.

Naturally topics from the Great Depression to Hollywood’s flag-waving fever during World War II are covered but most interesting are off-the-beaten path chapters such as “Wuthering Lows” which makes the case that maybe 1939 wasn’t Hollywood’s greatest year. The year that brought “Gone With the Wind” and “The Wizard of Oz” also gave us Joan Crawford as a skater in “Ice Follies of 1939” and Humphrey Bogart as a zombie in “The Return of Dr. X.” And “For Immature Audiences Only: The Heavy-Breathing Sex Comedy (1961-66)” looks none too fondly on films like “Sex and the Single Girl” as foreplay to the sexual revolution of the late 1960s and 70s.

DiLeo’s “Journey” is a nostalgic trip well worth taking.

— Daniel Bubbeo

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