Today is my final advent calendar selection. Thank you to all the people who have commented or emailed to say they have enjoyed this brief series of posts, and a special doff of the cap to the authors of some of the books I have picked out who took the time to get in touch and show their gratitude. I do hope that you have found some interesting titles to add to your wish lists and that Santa brings you one or two of them tomorrow morning.
If you have been good, that is.
At some point every Christmas I will sit down and watch It's A Wonderful Life. It is a really dark and edgy film directed with remarkable ingenuity by Frank Capra. A man whose style is so recognisable he holds that rare honour, shared with Franz Kafka and only a few others, of having -esque added to the end of his name.
One of the tricks Capra used to pull with his actors was to ask them to rehearse the scene with a dummy camera and lighting set up so that he could work out how he was going to shoot it when it came to the proper take. What he didn't tell them was that the cameras were rolling and he would often use this 'rehearsal' in the final cut of the movie. He felt it made for more natural performances - the actors weren't acting too hard.
I know this because I once spent a month reading Joseph McBride's wonderful biography Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success. It is almost certainly the greatest book about the cinema I have ever read and is a remarkable insight into the life and work of one Hollywood's finest directors. Even if he ultimately comes across as a not very nice chap you can't help but marvel at how cleverly he made his movies and how, when he worked with just the right people, he made magic.
So there you go. My final advent calendar window is now hanging open. See you next year.