Alfred Hitchcock, by Peter Ackroyd, Chatto & Windus, RRP£12.99

Ever ferreting out the best details, this short and engrossing biography of the much-examined director tells us, for example, that Hitch would often appear to be asleep on set. Was he actually asleep, or bored? Communing? But with what? Hitch emerges as a supremely Ackroyd kind of guy: showman, fantasist, detail freak, ever poised between art and commerce.

John Hughes: A Life in Film, by Kirk Honeycutt, Race Point, RRP$40

Giant coffee-table tribute to the oddly under-discussed John Hughes (1950-2009), who remains ceaselessly influential as a writer, producer and director. Colourfully and sweetly extolling his work — The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty in Pink — with emphasis justifiably on Hughes’s compassion for teenagers.

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe, by Chris Taylor, Head of Zeus, RRP£20

Compulsive hardback tracing the $37bn space-fantasy force majeure from its origins (lonely swot George Lucas’s scribbled notes) to now (global anticipation of the December release of Episode VII — The Force Awakens). Taylor’s fan-love continually slips and slides into the messianic but the subject insists on it. For facts, gossip, and hours-engulfing poolside analysis, look no further.

Why Acting Matters, by David Thomson, Yale University Press, RRP£16.99/$25

In a book that is part manifesto, part historical guide, the greatest living film critic argues that acting — on screen, in life — is instinctive, and discusses the techniques of Brando and Olivier, among others. Astonishingly clever and idiosyncratic, as ever Thomson pulls no punches: “the only honourable reality is that of pretending . . . ”

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