MARLENE DIETRICH

LIFE AND LEGEND

Gigantic chef-d'oeuvre: a 600-page life that puts Dietrich before us as no book has ever done and whose writing sets a new standard for celebrity biographies. Bach (Final Cut, 1985) spent six years researching and writing this life; talked with Dietrich (who deplored biographies that pitted her legend, and did not authorize this one); as a student, spent two years with Dietrich's most famous director, Josef von Sternberg, viewing with him all seven films Sternberg made with the actress; and had sole access to secret tapes of talks between Dietrich and Maximilian Schell made during Schell's creation in 1982 of the celebratory, fascinating Marlene: A Feature, when Dietrich was in her 80s. Two qualities distinguish Bach's work: He writes with superb intelligence and grace, without a single dull or merely journalistic passage. And, as a former producer (involved in Woody Allen's Manhattan and Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull, among other films), his ideas on how Dietrich's effects were achieved through lighting, film stocks, dissolves, acting, singing techniques, etc., strengthen his every inquiry into her roles, not only in film but in cabaret, stage acting, song recording, and so on. Bach's history of the star's bisexuality, frank but tasteful, in no way demeans her legend. His Marlene stands before us at every moment—a teenager casting bedroom eyes at her violin teacher; using her voice, when acting or singing, as a suggestive musical instrument; showing her legs with innocent desirability; and gathering weight and light as she ages from childhood to blazing sexuality as the fastest girl in Berlin and, at last, into cantankerous, witty fragility. A great pearl.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 1992

ISBN: 0-688-07119-8

Page Count: 600

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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