Curious and evocative fragments of autobiography by boulevardier and screenwriter Moffat, gathered and embellished by Lambert (Natalie Wood, 2004, etc.).
Curious because Moffat struck no great sparks in a life devoted mainly to serial infidelities. In an extended introductory biography, Lambert paints a fast portrait. His parents left young Ivan in the aristocratic care of his grandmother, Lady Tree (which means he was raised by nannies), and boarding school offered the classic immersion in English bestiality. But during his WWII stint in the film corps, he met George Stevens and ignited his career as a screenwriter and script doctor. Moffat worked on Giant, Shane, A Place in the Sun, They Came to Cordura, and other film and TV productions—though his time in Hollywood was short. His later years were mostly given over to luxury (as much of it as he could afford or take advantage of) and romance. The glancing text is evocative because the catalogue of Moffat’s girlfriends, wives, and swell gatherings conjures up a world in which someone whose family was heavy on bloodlines though short on cash got to spend a good amount of time in the great houses and castles of Europe. The autobiographical component here, which Moffat wrote in fits and starts over the years, relates his days visiting with the vanishing aristocracy and the High Bohemia of the Gargoyle Club. Lambert includes letters and interviews, but they have a tendency to be superficial, such as an anecdote about how Stevens didn’t like Citizen Kane at first, then “reconsidered all that, and thought how serious and marvelous it was, one of the best films he’d ever seen.” There are a few good tidbits, however, as when Dylan Thomas advised Charlie Chaplin, who was having trouble with the press, to “tell them to go fuck their bloody eyelids.”
Possessing a certain charm, but missing a lot of pieces. (Photos throughout)