THE WAY I WAS by Marvin with Gerald Gardner Hamlisch


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Good-hearted but lightweight autobiography by the composer of A Chorus Line and many film scores, including The Way We Were. Like Orson Welles, workaholic Hamlisch hit it big while very young, garnering three Oscars at age 28 for 1973's The Way We Were and The Sting, and composing Broadway's longest-running musical ever--but then he found himself floundering on a treadmill with every step a misstep. Hamlisch tells his story with a light hand, much like his own background music, without ever really digging into the nitty-gritty of film-scoring or even of writing musicals. The author covers his work scoring Woody Allen's first two films (Take the Money and Run and Bananas) in less than a page, simply by Hamlisch describing Allen as being uncommunicative. The focus remains always on the author, his music, his ulcers. At six, Hamlisch showed such promise as a pianist that his Viennese-immigrant parents enrolled him in Juilliard. Hamlisch forever was drawn to lyrical fluff while his father insisted that he learn the basics. While still in his teens, the budding musician worked as a Broadway rehearsal pianist, his biggest thrill being with Barbra Streisand and Funny Girl when they opened in Boston and liter on Broadway, and then as a musical coordinator for TV's The Bell Telephone Hour. Then came calls to score Sam Spiegel's The Swimmer, to arrange the music for an Ann-Margret Vegas show, and to boost aged Groucho Marx's spirits as his accompanist for his farewell comeback. Writing A Chorus Line and then Hamlisch's subsequent failures (Jean, about the life of Jean Seberg, etc.) are covered thinly here. Pleasant but synthetic, with not enough struggle in the writing.

Pub Date: Nov. 9th, 1992
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Scribners