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An ambitious biography of the well-respected British film and theater director, told by his close friend Lambert (Nazimova, 1997, etc.).

A hybrid of intimate reminiscence, scholarly analysis, psychobiography, and cultural history of gay life in the world of film and theater from WWII to the present, Lambert’s biography largely dispenses with any pretense of impartiality. Drawing upon the diaries Anderson kept throughout his life, the author (who met Anderson while they were both teenagers) interweaves his reminiscences of their shared past with a retrospective reading of Anderson’s private thoughts during the same periods. There emerges a Janus-faced portrait of Anderson, outwardly at home in the world and inwardly disgusted with himself and everyone around him. The prism for this journey is the sexuality of the protagonists, for both Lambert (gay, out early, and unrepentant) and Anderson (gay, closeted, and miserable) lived at a time when their homosexuality could have landed them in prison. The author adeptly traces their collaboration on the influential 1950s film magazine Sequence (famed for its scathing indictment of the British film industry), as well as the fits and starts of their careers in the arts—Lambert writing commercials and Anderson directing the documentaries O Dreamland and Thursday’s Children (where he cut his teeth before moving on to such features as If..., O Lucky Man, and The Whales of August). Despite great distances (the author lived in Los Angeles and Tangier while Anderson remained in England), the two men correspond all their lives, working with some of the most important actors and filmmakers of the century (including John Ford, Luis Buñuel, John Gielgud, and Nicholas Ray).

Like a good detective, Lambert manages to uncover the salient clues to personality, creativity, and enduring friendship—in a business not known for long alliances. (55 b&w photos)

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 2000
ISBN: 0-679-44598-6
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2000


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