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A massive, slow-moving oral history of 30-plus Hollywood blacklistees. The Hollywood blacklist starred few heroes and far too many villains. The latter range from the studios and networks that illegally abetted the blacklist to those who ``named names'' to many blacklistees themselves, staunch Stalinist ideologues who would have gladly extirpated any opposition if the tables had been turned. The real victims were those whose left-wing ties provided the thinnest pretext for informers to trap them in the mad gyre. This collection presents a wide range of blacklistees, from a few of the more well known, such as Martin Ritt, Jules Dassin, and Ring Lardner Jr., to a large number of the obscure and marginal, most of them writers. Because the subjects tell their own lives in their own words, this leads to both an idiosyncratic freshness as well as a lack of focus, with opinion and anecdote substituting for depth. Also, with many interviews, the blacklist is only a small component, and we are treated to biographical minutiae of extremely minor figures (some with only a handful or less of films to their name). Even die-hard film and blacklist buffs will find their patience tried. McGilligan (Fritz Lang, 1997, etc.) and veteran oral historian Buhle know their material well, but their questions tend to be facile and unrevealing. But though this book is almost impossible to read cover to cover, it is interesting to see just how varied the experiences of blacklistees were. Some fled to Europe or Mexico and built careers there; some used ``fronts,'' or pseudonyms; some got out of the biz. Some have forgiven their tormentors, some bear deep grievances. But the careers of all of them were seriously damaged by the experience: Perhaps this explains why so many of these interviewees are not household names. Invaluable source material, but much more than the ordinary reader wants or needs to know. (32 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 1997

ISBN: 0-312-17046-7

Page Count: 800

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1997

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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