GEORGE CUKOR, MASTER OF ELEGANCE

HOLLYWOOD'S LEGENDARY DIRECTOR AND HIS STARS

Levy (Film and Sociology/Arizona State Univ.) wrote 1987's overserious And the Winner Is: The History and Politics of the Oscar Award. His energized, studious Cukor biography differs from Patrick McGilligan's zestful George Cukor: A Double Life (1991) in several striking ways. While McGilligan stresses Cukor's double life as the only gay director of major rank in Hollywood and says that he spent his entire career fearful of a scandal that might cost him his high professional standing, Levy says Cukor's homosexuality was known by all and that people ``went out of their way not to damage him.'' When the vibrant Cukor arrived in Hollywood in the '30s, gay was okay but not great; then, in the uptight '40s and '50s, it became Bad News. Levy agrees with McGilligan that Cukor's emotional life was barren and that all his buoyancy was lavished on his films, his home decor, and his social gatherings. Nor did he like any open show of affection between men. His Hollywood labors began as dialogue director for Lewis Milestone's All Quiet on the Western Front, but he quickly built up steam, directing Bill of Divorcement, Dinner at Eight, Little Women, David Copperfield, Romeo and Juliet, and—most famously—Garbo's Camille. Cukor, who directed Jean Harlow, Ingrid Bergman, Anna Magnani, Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, plus Katharine Hepburn in ten films, Judy Garland in A Star Is Born, Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, and Marilyn Monroe in two of her later but lesser works, acquired a reputation as a women's director, a label he dismissed. Levy also trashes the tale that Clark Gable got Cukor fired from Gone with the Wind for being a ``fairy'' and assigns the firing to a clash of vision between Cukor and producer David O. Selznick. Strong on actors, acting, and directing. Real film food.

Pub Date: May 25, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-11246-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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