THE LONG-DISTANCE RUNNER by Tony Richardson

THE LONG-DISTANCE RUNNER

A Memoir
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A lean, mean, and ultimately engaging autobiography by the British producer-director, finished six years before his death from AIDS in 1991. Richardson's story is of a pushing, prickly, fiercely ambitious apothecary's son from Yorkshire for whom waiting on his father's customers was ``an embarrassment and a threat,'' who went up to Oxford (``I see ropes--nothing but ropes,'' he effused while creating an experimental production of Peer Gynt) and then made an indelible mark on the British stage, long moldering, with the founding of the Royal Court Theatre, which launched landmark productions of plays such as Look Back In Anger and The Entertainer. Richardson went on to work a great deal in film, flying by the seat of his pants in A Taste of Honey, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The Loved One, Tom Jones, and others. Because his work consumed him, his life-story is primarily a project-by-project serial telling, enlivened by savagely amusing pronouncements on the luminaries in his milieu who either rankled him or didn't suitably serve his artistic vision. Famous bodies are everywhere. Richardson is strongest here when the haughty boy from Yorkshire goes ga-ga over Jeanne Moreau and gets what his father might have called a taste of his own medicine, and he's interesting but idiosyncratic in writing of Vanessa Redgrave, the rather magnificent wife he spurned (and toward whom he reveals a great deal--or so it might seem--of unconscious hostility). Oddly, there's not one reference to Redgrave's politics, though they certainly affected Richardson's life and nerves; nor does the author acknowledge his own widely reputed bisexuality. Introduced by Joan Didion, with a foreword by Richardson's daughter Natasha, who says she found the memoir in a cupboard on the day of her father's death. Meanwhile, Didion claims it was given to Natasha by the manuscript typist. They should have talked- -though Richardson sparkles here nonetheless. (Thirty-two pages of b&w photos)

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 1993
ISBN: 0-688-12101-2
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1993