It was 1974 and the videocassette recorder was, at least for home use, still on the distant horizon. If movie fans wanted to relive a favorite classic movie, they had few choices. The could wait for an art-house re-release. They could hope to catch it on late-night local TV.
Or they could buy Richard J. Anobile’s Film Classics Library.
Published by Avon and selling for the then-substantial price of $4.95, Anobile’s Film Classics Library was the closest thing to owning a copy of a favorite film that most of us fans could imagine … up until the time we could actually own a copy of a favorite film.
Looking back from the perspective of today’s instant access for movie fans – Want to see a movie? Pop in your disc. Watch it on On Demand. Stream it online. – Anobile’s books were ingenious and just what we needed back then.
Each movie was recreated in the pages of the oversize paperback through every line of dialogue and more than 1,000 frame blow-ups.
The books were, in a way, like comic books. Anobile took images and dialogue from the movies and reproduced them, in sequence, in such a manner that readers could relive the films.
Everything was included except for movement and audio. Opening and closing credits are included, as are lap dissolves and fades, which, Anobile noted, preserve the feel of the film.
I spent hours of my adolescence studying these books, looking at the still shots and reading the dialogue.
I still own two of the entries from the series, covering James Whale’s “Frankenstein” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho.” I remember but don’t own Anobile’s recapturing of “Casablanca.” Checking around online today, it appears editions of “The Maltese Falcon” and Buster Keaton’s “The General” were also released.
A few other movies and TV shows, including “Star Trek,” received a similar treatment before the advent of VCRs. None of those later books could match the classic appeal of the FIlm Classics Library.