LONG SHOTS by Edwin Corley


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In flashbacks from a 1947 hearing of the House Un-American Activities Committee, Corley (Sargasso, Siege) narrates three episodes--one nearly unreadable, the other two merely dull--from the career of a John Huston-like movie director named Mitch Gardner. That first, epically awful sequence involves Mitch's buddybuddyship with Clark Gable and Carole Lombard--and by the time Carole is dead in a 1942 War Bonds-trip plane crash, Corley has trotted out every Gable/Lombard cliche, along with a ludicrous parade of waxwork-dummy Hollywood cameo appearances. Episode #2 is somewhat more intrinsically interesting: in 1941, Mitch goes to Russia (at Darryl Zanuck's behest) to film war action, with help from cameraman Teddy Nakamura and pushy reporter Kaye Wade (who'll become Mrs. Gardner after much tiresome chitchat); while Mitch and Teddy dangerously join a partisan unit behind German lines, Kaye films mass burials in Moscow; and then there's much to-do about smuggling their film past Soviet officials. Episode #3: when Nisei Teddy and his family are interned in 1942, bland good-guy Mitch is outraged (""It is a concentration camp""), stands up to government pressure, and films the relocation process in a documentary called Shame. Throughout, Corley pads the proceedings with stale tinsel-town anecdotes (not the John Barrymore corpse story again!), with liftings from recent bios of Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power, with miscellaneous historical tidbits (some of them inaccurate)--plus such irrelevancies as a profile of prolific writer Frederick Faust (a.k.a. Max Brand). And the whole disjointed mess culminates in cardboard-hero Mitch's stand against the HUAC chairman (who informs Mitch that his 1941 affair with a Soviet partisan produced a child!)--a melodramatic cartoon that oversimplifies and cheapens the real issues involved in the HUAC hearings. A sorry and hackneyed mishmash overall, with some marginal appeal, perhaps, for only the most unknowledgeable Hollywood-tattle fans.

Pub Date: April 3rd, 1981
Publisher: Doubleday