LOOKING FOR GATSBY: My Life by Faye with Betsy Sharkey Dunaway


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Movies and leading men and all too little self-awareness in this stagey, unrevealing autobiography. Even by the standards of Hollywood, Dunaway has had a remarkably uneven career. While she turned in signal performances on stage and in important films such as Bonnie and Clyde, Chinatown, and Network (for which she won an Oscar), she has also starred in a series of forgettable failures where her acting was often the only redeeming feature. And she has been burdened since early in her career--when she refused, mid-movie, to ever work again with Otto Preminger--by a reputation for being difficult, or rather, if you believe directors like Roman Polanski, for being a monstrously demanding prima donna. Dunaway (aided by New York Times correspondent Sharkey) tries, not quite convincingly, to lay some of the worst stories to rest or at least offer her justifications. She also wastes few opportunities to remind us of what a smart, incredibly gifted actress she is: ""There are those who elevate the craft of acting to the art of acting, and now I would be among them."" As for many actors, the nature of identity has frequently been problematic for her: Who is the real person behind all the roles? Much of this memoir, then, is taken up with Dunaway's attempts to ""find herself,"" whether it be through buying handfuls of houses or her relationships with a number of talented men (hence the title) or with that old and expensive unreliable--psychoanalysis. Despite some revealing insights into her acting technique, this endless self-absorption adds up to little more than a score of particularly trite platitudes and actress), hyperbole that could thrill only the most die-hard fans. Dunaway should stick to what she does best: breathing life into other people's lives.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1995
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster