LADIES' MAN: An Autobiography by Paul with Julius Fast Henreid

LADIES' MAN: An Autobiography

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Best known for Now Voyager and Casablanca, onetime matinee-idol Henreid reminisces about his varied, up-and-down career here--in a low-key, anecdotal, pleasantly high-minded (if occasionally bawdy) memoir. Born to an aristocratic but soon-impoverished Austrian family, young Paul von Henried found a solid career in Vienna publishing but studied acting at night--and was promptly noticed by legendary Max Reinhardt. A stage career soon half-flourished, with set-backs due to Paul's anti-Nazi stands and his wife Lisl's unfortunate romantic past. So work in London became more and more attractive--especially in the late 1930s, when the von Henrieds had assorted runins with Austrian/German authorities. And then, with English threats of alien internment, Paul and couturier Lisl eagerly moved to America, a Broadway success (Elmer Rice's Flight to the West) leading to Hollywood. There, Paul's name was changed (""I have regretted it ever since""), though he resisted being made over into a George Brent clone. Now Voyager--with much-admired friend Bette Davis--made him a star, famous for the two-cigarette scene (devised by Paul and Lisl). But though the Forties also brought Casablanca and Spanish Main, Henreid's career was limited, he says, by Jack Warner's refusals on loan-outs to other studios, by his European background, and--later, after his involvement with the Committee for the First Amendment--by blacklisting. So from the Fifties on he concentrated more on directing (B-movies, television, Dead Ringer for Davis), with occasional character roles here and there. Henreid has mostly bland, nice things to say about colleagues; a few exceptions are Olivia de Havilland (a ""troublemaker""), director John Houseman, talent-less Hedy Lamarr, and Katharine Hepburn. (""When you let Hepburn do what she wants to do, you are in trouble."") And his backstage stories include a few ribald practical jokes--including yet another version of the John Barrymore-corpse anecdote--as well as one touching glimpse of great, debased actor Michel Chekhov. The mild, likable show-biz scrapbook of a well-bred professional, then--unpretentious, occasionally tart.

Pub Date: Feb. 2nd, 1983
Publisher: St. Martin's