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Tulsa author enjoys launch of two movie books this spring

Dennis King Published: March 25, 2011

Prolific Tulsa author John Wooley should limber up his autographing arm as two movie-related books he penned are coming to bookstores this spring.

On March 15, Wiley Publishing released Wooley’s new biography, “Wes Craven: The Man and His Nightmares.” On April 7, the University of Oklahoma Press will issue Wooley’s book, “Shot in Oklahoma: A Century of Sooner State Cinema.”

“Wes Craven” draws on Wooley’s interviews with the director and on exhaustive research to provide an absorbing portrait of the cult film director who gave us “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Scream” and other iconic horror films. In a career that has spanned nearly 40 years, Craven’s works, which often mounted masterly examinations of the nightmarish nexus of dreams and reality, have employed pithy themes cloaked in the conventions of populist horror fiction.

Wooley’s book provides fascinating behind-the-scenes stories about the director’s films, as well as keen critical analyses of the philosophical and psychological foundations for Craven’s body of work.

“Shot in Oklahoma” is billed as an engaging ride through Oklahoma’s untold cinema history. It ranges through a period when movie pioneer Thomas Edison shot westerns at Oklahoma’s 101 Ranch near Ponca City and advances through the era when Francis Ford Coppola came to Tulsa (with young actors such as Matt Dillon and Tom Cruise) to film “The Outsiders,” based on local author S.E. Hinton’s young adult novel. And along the way it touches on many high-profile Hollywood films that employed the Sooner state as soundstage – films as diverse as “Where the Red Fern Grows,” “Twister,” “UHF,” “Elizabethtown” and “Rain Man.”

Through in-depth research and interviews, the author also reveals unsung aspects of the state’s early all-black films shot in Oklahoma’s African American towns, films starring American Indian leads and low-budget slasher movies created in Oklahoma that transformed the home-video movie business worldwide.

Supported by vintage photographs and an in-depth filmography of more than one hundred movies shot in Oklahoma, the book serves as the first comprehensive survey of the Sooner state’s rich and colorful history as a thriving on-location film player.

John Wooley, formerly entertainment writer with the Tulsa World, has written, co-written or edited more than 20 books, including the recent novel, “Ghost Band,” and the nonfiction book “From the Blue Devils to Red Dirt: The Colors of Oklahoma Music.”

- Dennis King