Victor Fleming: An American Movie Master by Michael Sragow (Pantheon)
The man who directed both Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz (along with Red Dust, Captains Courageous, and 40-some other films) has, unaccountably, never been given his due as an auteur or as a biographical subject. This new, rich, critical-historical work offers a vivid portrait of Fleming as a shrewd, sensitive daredevil.
Scarface Nation: The Ultimate Gangster Movie by Ken Tucker (St. Martin’s Press)
Okay, it’s my own book, but it makes for very nice counterintuitive-to-holiday-spirit gift-giving. Not merely the behind-the-scenes making of the 1983 De Palma/Pacino film (and the 1932 Howard Hawks/Paul Muni version), but also a critical analysis of how Scarface has influenced pop music, TV shows, YouTube videos, and political culture (see the chapter “President Scarface,” starring Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney, among others).