IN THE ARENA by Charlton Heston


An Autobiography
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 A spirited, sprawling, at times delightfully quirky memoir by Hollywood's own Mount Rushmore. With roles ranging from Moses to Michelangelo to Sir Thomas More to the Voice of God, Heston (Beijing Diary, 1990, etc.) dominated Hollywood for years in a series of lavish epics, including The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur (for which he won an Academy Award). In an era populated by steel-jawed men such as Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, Heston was perhaps the most ferrous of them all. Yet he was one of the few American Shakespearians of any note. And despite some stinkers (Soylent Green, anyone?), he also worked with many of America's best directors. This book could have certainly used a director's distaste for superfluity. Heston seems to have never met an anecdote, detail, or aside he didn't like. Surely he didn't have to discuss all of his 60-plus films. Heston's final chapter, a rÇchauffÇ buffet of stale ideological posturingsgun control bad, Western civilization goodalso leaves a slightly sour taste. But he is, otherwise, a perceptive and engaging raconteur as he traces his career from high school theater and the obligatorybut briefdown-and-out days in New York City to his ascent to Hollywood fame and fortune. Ego usually well in check, he is also his own best critic: ``I could play cowboys better than Laurence Olivier and Shakespeare better than Gary Cooper.'' Heston offers many useful insights into acting and directing, and his recollections of the people he worked with (just about everybody) contain some real gems, especially his analysis of various directors' methods. A long-playing performance, not perhaps of Oscar caliber, but at least worth a nomination. (32 pages b&w photos, not seen) (First printing of 100,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-684-80394-1
Page count: 512pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1995


NonfictionCHARLTON HESTON by Marc Eliot
by Marc Eliot