THINGS I DID. . . AND THINGS I THINK I DID by Jean Negulesco

THINGS I DID. . . AND THINGS I THINK I DID

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Genial, rakish anecdotes from Negulesco's long, rich life as artist and Hollywood director--but far more distinctive in the brief pre-Hollywood chapters. Born to a well-to-do Rumanian family, artistic young Jean was dispatched to Paris (his worldly father's way of breaking up an unwise romance)--just in time to sample the post-WW I bohemian heyday: lunch with ""Rumanian peasant"" Brancusi, ""a prophet but with the heart of a child""; losing a girlfriend to beautiful, drunk Modigliani; ""hunger and ecstasy"" amid the Dadaists and courtesans. Then, after gigolo-dancer days on the Riviera, Negulesco moved, with a new American wife, to Greenwich Village. And, after the marriage collapsed, he moved on to Hollywood--an instant social success, a successful portrait painter who happily abandoned art to break into the movies: ""designing"" montages for Tonight We Sing and an adaptation of Faulkner's Sanctuary; graduating to second-unit directing; and finally, thanks to John Huston, making a significant directing appearance with Mask of Dimitrios--followed by Johnny Belinda and other successes. At this point, however, Negulesco abandons the loosely chronological approach of his memoir, lapsing instead into a pleasant but undistinguished anecdote collection--personality by personality. There are affectionate recollections, including some twice-told tales, of: Darryl F. Zanuck (""a great S.O.B.""); croquet-partner Sam Goldwyn; Howard Hughes in his usual persistent-suitor mode (winning Luise Rainer this time); Greta Garbo, bargaining over strudel with escort Ari Onassis; Sophia Loren, ""pleasant, professional, and ruthless"" on location with too-short Alan Ladd (Boy on a Dolphin); Bogie and Bacall, Kate and Spence, Howard Hawks. And, throughout, Negulesco mixes in third-hand hearsay and some misinformation with his firsthand impressions. (Marilyn Monroe, we learn, ""became neurotic"" in 1961.) But, if only half-trustworthy and often far-from-fresh, this is an easygoing celebrity grab-bag--with lots of European charm in the zesty opening pages.

Pub Date: Nov. 29th, 1984
Publisher: Linden/Simon & Schuster