IT'S A HELL OF A LIFE BUT NOT A BAD LIVING by Edward Dmytryk

IT'S A HELL OF A LIFE BUT NOT A BAD LIVING

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Film director Edward Dmytryk was not only one of the Hollywood Ten, he was the sole member of that group to purge himself--which might have set his autobiography in a small class by itself. But Dmytryk, an unreflective sort, covers this critical period in short order. He admits joining the Communist Party ""in late 1944 or early 1945,"" tries to demonstrate his immediate disenchantment, and when he appears before the House Un-American Activities Committee, launches into a tirade against the press which includes several lengthy anecdotes about his films. We hear nothing more about his testimony. During a one-year jail term, he issued a statement denying current C.P. affiliation, and upon losing an important job after his release, appeared again before the Committee to name names. Otherwise, Dmytryk traces his unexceptional ""ups and downs"" from part-time messenger on the Famous Players lot (in 1923, at $6 a week) to apprentice cutter (""the only film craft that is entirely indigenous to the cinema"") to ""Mr. RKO"" and Crossfire (1947), about anti-Semitism: ""what a triumph for those of us who believed messages could be delivered by someone other than Western Union."" Still to come: a string of earnest Stanley Kramer efforts culminating in The Caine Mutiny; recoil from the social-consciousness films that had made his reputation (""a tiny core of sociological concern thickly coated with sugar""); and, winding down (unawares), The Carpetbaggers. Apart from a few interesting comments on film-cutting, proof that making movies doesn't itself make for a fascinating life.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Times Books