An odd, compelling addition to the film fan’s library.

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OH DAD!

A SEARCH FOR ROBERT MITCHUM

A Welsh poet appropriates an American icon in search of a workable design for manhood.

Robson (Bbboing and Associated Weirdness, 2003, etc.) assays the persona of iconic tough-guy actor Robert Mitchum in this unusual biography/memoir. He “searches” for Mitchum in a variety of the actor’s prefame stomping grounds, traversing the Eastern Seaboard in a haphazard effort to pin down the facts about Mitchum’s peripatetic youth, which included riding the rails with hoboes during the Depression, a career as a prizefighter and a stint on a prison chain gang. Rather than devoting himself to methodical research, however, Robson wanders around strange towns large and small, drinking in bars, smoking copious amounts of dope, bedding friendly American women and suffering the privations of modern long-distance bus travel. All the while he natters on about Mitchum to everyone he meets, most of whom fail to recognize the actor’s name or remember any of his films. Strangely, this approach produces an entertaining, insightful portrait of a Hollywood movie star that avoids the deadening formula of the standard celebrity biography. Robson evokes the essence of a life through a collage-like accumulation of lines of movie dialogue, quotes from interviews with the garrulous and eloquent actor, descriptions of sequences from Mitchum’s films and the scanty piece of hard biographical evidence. The author states that his quest is motivated by a spiritual need to reconcile the opposing poles of his own masculinity—sensitive artist versus stoic man’s man. His father refused to acknowledge such oppositions, he writes, while Mitchum seemed to negotiate them with a sort of divine grace. Robson perhaps makes too much of the actor’s poetry; quoted examples suggest that Mitchum indeed belonged on screen, not anthologized in a comp-lit text. But the poet’s clear need to identify with his chimera gives his quest an emotional authenticity that suits his subject perfectly.

An odd, compelling addition to the film fan’s library.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-905762-13-2

Page Count: 530

Publisher: Dufour

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2008

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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