JOHN GIELGUD: A Celebration by Gyles Brandreth

JOHN GIELGUD: A Celebration

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The photos, not the text, will be the primary appeal of this 80th-birthday biography of Sir John's long acting/directing career: among the 150+ black-and-white images are some rarely seen roles as well as the more famous ones. Meanwhile, sticking strictly to Gielgud's public life, putting friends and family to one side, Brandreth finds few ways to enliven what is little more than a play-by-play, film-by-film runthrough. Predictable emphasis falls on the Hamlets, on the Romeo/ Mercutio alternating-arrangement with Olivier, on the Old Vic seasons and Gielgud's remarkable actor-manager work in the West End. The end of World War II finds Gielgud ""at a low ebb. . . he had lost his sense of direction,"" with Olivier surpassing him as the leader of the profession. But then comes the Lady's Not For Burning comeback, a variety of new Shakespeare challenges, the Ages of Man solo appearances--and, later, a surprisingly busy career in films, with a few highs and many lows: ""He must be the only theatrical knight to have appeared in pornography. . . ."" Slightly critical about Gielgud's directing (""the constant changeability of his quicksilver mind""), otherwise just admiring and affectionate: an album more for browsing than reading, especially considering the plethora of Gielgud memoirs and biographies.

Pub Date: April 14th, 1984
Publisher: Little, Brown