Slapdash memoir from a once-blacklisted actor.
Knox is a method actor, but the detail, insight, and introspection that define that school of acting hardly characterize his autobiography. Knox was born on Coney Island in 1922, the illegitimate child of Russian Jews. He behaved, he says, like “a little shit,” the first of many crude terms he scatters throughout. Home life in the Depression may have influenced Knox to become an actor, but he doesn’t speculate on his motivation, as method actors often do. Instead, he says he chose his career “out of the blue,” an observation to make Lee Strasberg bang his head against the fourth wall. In short order, Knox appears on the New York stage, then in Hollywood films as a Warner Bros. contract player. His pace now revved up to the speed of a whizbang, B-level gangster film, Knox recalls making I Walk Alone, Knock on Any Door, and White Heat in the late ’40s and early ’50s. Knox’s tales of lotus land and his style go beyond the stale: “Legend has it,” Knox writes, that—gasp!—Lana Turner was discovered at the counter of Schwab’s Drugstore. Knox works with left-wing writers Marc Blitzstein and Bertolt Brecht and—zip!—the actor is blacklisted. No matter. Whoosh! Knox flies to Europe, where, over four decades, he works in films, playing supporting roles and dubbing or coaching actors who don’t speak English. Pleasures on La Dolce Vita are often carnal, he recalls, observing delicately, that “Sooner rather than later, costars fuck,” and that “In the normal course of pursuing pussy, Roman men are relentless.” Tales about work with Anna Magnani, Eli Wallach, and Orson Welles are more engaging and tasteful.
Surely the breeziest account yet of the Blacklist.