BURT LANCASTER by Robert Windeler


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Thickened with quotes from old Burt Lancaster newspaper/magazine interviews, this slight biography is little more than a film-by-film rÉsumÉ--starting (after a few words about early years as poor N.Y. kid, traveling acrobat, and soldier) with Lancaster's 1946 arrival in Hollywood: his very first stage role (Broadway, age 32) had won him a Hal Wailis screen-test. The career began promisingly, with The Killers; from then on the surprisingly bookish Lancaster pursued his ""obsession with the quality of stories."" The first major movie star since the 1920s to found his own production company, he co-produced both potboilers and landmarks (e.g., Marty)--while seeking out unlikely roles (Little Sheba, Birdman) as well as super-star leads in From Here to Eternity, Elmer Gantry, The Rainmaker. By the mid-1970s, however, he was over 60, no longer ""bankable,"" appearing in such offbeat successes as Atlantic City and Local Hero. And, as for the more personal side, Windeler mentions an affair with Shelley Winters (as covered in her memoir), a 22-year marriage that ended in divorce, some children, a hot temper, and ""his usual trick of taking over some of the direction."" Sketchily researched, flatly written: a rudimentary workup for yesterday's fans only.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1984
Publisher: St. Martin's