Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Admit One: A Journey Into Film by Emmett James

Celluloid is about dreams, movies are about fantasy, and motion pictures are about things you couldn’t possibly even imagine in your wildest dreams, brought vividly to life in front of your eyes. Cinema is about capturing the good and bad things that are pivotal in people’s life. [pg. xv]

Admit One: A Journey Into Film by Emmett James
Wheatmark; 2007
Nonfiction (Memoir); 198 pgs

I cannot remember which movie I saw first in the theater. Tootsie or Annie. Seeing Annie on the big screen was part of my birthday present one year, and, oh, I could not wait! The music, the singing, the dancing . . . All of it was like magic to me. I wanted to be Annie or better yet, her friend Molly. I memorized all of the lyrics to the songs and drove everyone around me crazy for years singing It’s the Hard Knock Life and Tomorrow. Be glad you cannot hear me as I write this—I’ve serenaded my husband, cat and dog with a few of my favorite songs from the musical, including Let’s Go To the Movies (not to mention made them watch YouTube videos). Tootsie was the first “grown up” movie I went to see that year. A friend and I went together, chaperoned by my friend’s mother. Dustin Hoffman was amazing—and I loved how it all turned out in the end.

Emmett James’ book, Admit One: A Journey Into Film, elicited many such memories from me. I imagine it helped too that he and I are not so different in age and many of the films that touched him early in his life were also ones that meant a lot to me. As an avid movie fan, I was quite excited at the opportunity of reading this book. Online publicist Lisa Roe was kind enough to arrange for me to receive a copy, and the author personally inscribed it (you probably disregarded by squeal of glee as a rather obnoxious bird flying by).

In Admit One, Emmett James takes readers on a journey through his life as it was defined by the movies he so loved. He dreamed of one day becoming an actor himself, a dream he has fully realized in his adult life.

Each chapter is titled after a movie that touched his life in one way or another. He describes how the movies influenced his early life as well as those of his friends, from digging a hole to Australia to hoping to get to first or second base with a girl in the back of a darkened theater. He took a job washing cars in the Miyagi style, honing his karate skills. Emmett got into trouble like many boys his age, endured sibling rivalry and his parents’ attempts at reform. Later in life, as he struggled to get noticed in the acting community, he proved himself to be quite clever and bold, even if a bit too eccentric for the times and not always being successful.

Not only is Admit One a book about the influence movies can have on our lives, even in the smallest of ways, but also about one man’s journey to making his dream come true. It was not an easy journey for Emmett James. He could barely make ends meet, took on shady jobs just to eek out a living, and was not always proud of the acting jobs he was given. He also had his successes, landing a role in a major movie and a staring role on a TV show, at least while it lasted. He makes a distinction between being a celebrity and being an actor. A big celebrity he may not yet be, but he has definitely earned his stripes as an actor.

Movies are not just a form of entertainment and escape (well, some arguably are). They can be influential, open lines of communication, make people think as well as feel compassion. Movies encourage the use of one’s imagination. Is it any wonder than that I am drawn both to movies and books?

Reading Admit One: A Journey Into Film was like a romp in the park, entertaining and humorous. The author does not let the reader too close into his own life, barely skimming the surface it seems like at times, but that approach suited the book just fine. Now I’ve got the urge to go out and rent Titanic for a glimpse of Mr. James.

Rating: * (Very Good)

Learn more about the author through his website.

Read what others had to say about this book:
50 Book Challenge
Errant Dreams Reviews
Kay's Bookshelf
Ticket to Anywhere


  1. There are several films that were very influential to my life. This sounds like a very interesting book!

  2. As a fellow movie junkie, married to yet another movie junkie, I think both my husband and I would really enjoy this book. I'll have to keep my eye out for it. Thanks for the great review, Wendy!

  3. "Not only is Admit One a book about the influence movies can have on our lives, even in the smallest of ways, but also about one man’s journey to making his dream come true."

    I like the sound of this. Grrr, you keep adding to my wishlist :P

  4. This book sounds interesting. And I like the way you wrote in this paragraph: "Movies are not just a form of entertainment and escape (well, some arguably are). They can be influential, open lines of communication, make people think as well as feel compassion. Movies encourage the use of one's imagination." How true it is!

  5. I really enjoyed the tales in this one... it definitely tickled my funny bone! Dark, humorous, and insightful.

  6. When I was at mom's a few weeks ago I picked up a treasure box with little things in it including a ton of movie stubs (I am a giant pack-rat!!). As I thumbed through them I could remember every experience...don't remember my first movie in the theatre, though. My mom remembers fondly of seeing Indiana Jones while I was kicking away in her tummy (maybe not fondly, but vividly). :) Sounds like a good read!

  7. Thanks for the review link :) this is a great boo isn't it - and I too was tempted to watch Titanic to try and see the man himself!

  8. I think my son and I would both enjoy this book.

  9. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much, because I just found out I'll be getting it too! I've also just added you to my LibraryThing Bloggers page, so drop by to make sure your name and link are correct :)

  10. The movie version of Rereadings!. Well, in a single person narrative. This sounds like a perfect birthday gift for my oldest friend. After I read it to make sure it's "safe". ;)

  11. Another inspirational review! Films are also a big influence for me, it's a medium I really enjoy. And Tootsie is one of the greatest films ever!!

    I will be checking this out.

  12. The internet ate my response to many of you a couple of days ago, unfortunately, and I wasn't able to try to get back on and say hello (again) before now. That and the router gave out completely yesterday and so hubby and I made a quick trip to the electronics store last night to replace it.

    Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment!

    Jaimie - I just realized that I didn't even mention any of the films that touched the author's life. We'll just pretend I did that on purpose so as not to spoil anything. :-)

    Florinda - I think you would like it too. Are you going to see Indy this weekend or will you wait for the mad rush to die down?

    Nymeth - It seems only fair. ;-) I am reciprocating!

    Melody - The author did a very good job of reminding the reader of that in his book. I think it's very true!

    Heather - It was a fun book. It was so easy to relate to!

    Trish - Oh neat! My husband has saved all of his movie stubs over the years. I'm not sure he has them from that far back.

    Mrs. S - I tried to see if Redemption High had made it to the internet for a sample viewing, but I wasn't able to find an episode or even a little glimpse of it other than the credit information.

    Bybee - I hope you two will give it a try!

    Kathleen - Thanks so much! I need to update my links. I hope you will enjoy Admit One! I look forward to reading what you think of it.

    Carrie K - Exactly! Haha

    Dancin' Fool - Thank you! I hope you will enjoy it if you do read it!

  13. Thanks to all that have shown interest in my book, you bloggers are amazing! Once you have read the book please help me in posting your review on Amazon. I do not have a big corporation behind me so the power of the people are the only ones who can help me spread the word!

    Cheers and enjoy

    Emmett James
    Admit One: A Journey into Film

  14. Emmett - Thank you for taking the time to stop by and comment!

  15. LF - I love the quote that you posted at the top of this post. That was one that really stuck out at me from this book as well. =)

    I agree that it was an enjoyable read but like you felt that it only scratched the surface of things. Overall though it was nice to relive some movie moments and to read about how certain films that I enjoyed affected someone else.

  16. Irish - Very true! It was fun walking down memory lane alongside the author.


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