JOSEPH LOSEY

A REVENGE ON LIFE

This mean-spirited recounting of the life of the expatriate American filmmaker gives a new meaning to the term ``critical biography.'' As profiled by Caute, a prolific author with a specialty in the history of the political left (Sixty-Eight: The Year of the Barricades, 1988, etc.), filmmaker Joseph Losey emerges as a domineering, womanizing sourpuss, a humorless, often dour man with a certain visual flair and a knack for alienating longtime friends. Caute traces Losey's career in a needlessly complicated structure of flash-forwards and flashbacks, beginning with the 1963 triumph of The Servant, his first collaboration with screenwriter Harold Pinter. He then moves back to Losey's childhood in Wisconsin (Losey was one of a trio of great filmmakers from that state who emerged in Hollywood in the '40s, the others being Orson Welles and Nicholas Ray), his years at Dartmouth, his budding radicalism, his stage work in the '30s, and onward to his Hollywood work. Losey was blacklisted because of his Communist affiliations and left the US to avoid a subpoena, continuing his career in England, Italy, and eventually France. Caute follows his growing reputation as a ``European'' filmmaker, his long collaborations with Pinter, Dirk Bogarde, and cinematographer Gerry Fisher. He describes each of Losey's films in detail but seems neither engaged with nor interested in them. The book is a stifling compilation of minutiae, and Caute never lets a statement by his subject go unchallenged. But why should recollections by Losey's sister or by his collaborators be more reliable than Losey's own? The book's elaborately nonchronological structure renders Losey's development as an artist all but opaque, and Caute's literal-minded readings of the films, filled with quibbles about plausibility and faithfulness to details of British class structure, reveal his blindness to the films' own universes. An encyclopedic catalog of Losey's shortcomings and sins, unleavened by any sense of historical context, artistic development, or even sympathy for his work.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-19-506410-0

Page Count: 591

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1994

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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