My Life In The Movies By Dave Friedman Dearfield, Illinois: Dalton Watson Fine Books, 2008. ISBN 9 781854 432346 301pp. (hardback) £29.00

If the name Dave Friedman is not a household one the movies he is associated with are, for his career in film began in 1965 and continues to this day, taking in many legendary Hollywood productions in its wake. If there is one reason why Friedman has not had the recognition his long vocation deserves it is his position behind the camera- not as director, but as chronicler of productions with a keen eye and even keener lens. Even though the public at large may not know his name, the industry itself recognises his significance- and invited him into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He is the only Still Photographer to be asked to join.

Friedman’s association with films ranges from the well-known (Enter The Dragon) to the obscure (Harry and Walter Go To New York) and contains some striking images. However, not only does the book survey the writer’s career, it also presents an intriguing chronology of production practices in the twenty year period that was perhaps the most difficult in movie history for the traditional film studios. In comparing the breathtaking panoramic images taken on the simple set of Summer of ‘42 (p.48) with the technology-heavy filming of Cobra (p. 262) one realises how the semi-innocence of Hollywood in the early 1970s gave way to commercially-obsessed overblown eighties pattern of film production. The shape and appearance of My Life In The Movies actually assists the scope and scale of its contents (especially considering the aforementioned stills)- the book avoids the trap many similar volumes fall into by incorporating its images onto one page as opposed to spreading them in ungainly fashion across the spine.

The sheer diversity of Friedman’s work is noticeable- from a superb and sexy candid of Goldie Hawn in Butterflies Are Free (p.64) to several lovely colour stills from Grease- these even succeed in making the latter look like an appealing film to watch. The Steve McQueen movies Tom Horn and The Hunter are given particularly good treatment with several superb colour photographs from each, and it is perhaps the inclusion of films such as these which enables Friedman’s book to be more enticing, for it features many less well-known films ‘midst its flirtation with the iconic films that helped define each decade.

One fascinating aspect to emerge from My Life In The Movies is that Dave Friedman is no one-trick pony. As a result of his highly successful motor-racing photographs Friedman has been able to widen his portfolio- his latest sphere is classical ballet, and the book closes with a taster of his wonderfully composed photographs of the dancers. Overall, the images in My Life In The Movies are highly personal, but also tap into a shared awareness of the movies that, for many, defined their familiarity with mainstream Hollywood. The pages are like flicking through a celluloid family album, the characters and scenarios coming alive from the page as a result of our closeness as spectators to them. The impressive (if not bookshelf-friendly volume) offers a backdrop against which to impose our own memories- for each of us they will be different- and that, apart from marvelling at Friedman’s mastery of the lens, is no mean achievement.

'My Life In The Movies' is published by Dalton Watson Fine Books.

Dalton Watson Fine Books website