CAROL REED

A BIOGRAPHY

A meticulous but dry biography of the British director, himself a meticulous but dry filmmaker. Sir Carol Reed's reputation, once quite grand, has fallen considerably in recent years. As even London journalist Wapshott (Rex Harrison, 1992) reluctantly admits, with the exception of his very best films—The Stars Look Down, Odd Man Out, The Fallen Idol, and The Third Man—Reed's work is impersonal, commercial, and merely competent. The filmmaker was a highly private man, in large part because of his origins. As Wapshott copiously chronicles, Reed was one of several illegitimate children fathered by the great actor-producer Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree; although Tree lived intermittently with Reed's mother and was very supportive of his ``second'' family, as an adult Reed himself was very guarded in any discussions of his private life. Like his father, the director was a big man, gentle and outgoing. His career was boosted early on by a professional friendship with the popular novelist and playwright Edgar Wallace, who led him from theater into cinema. After he began directing in the mid-1930s, his career became a parade of ``one picture after another'' (as Reed himself put it), and so does Wapshott's book. The author is frank about Reed's disastrous first marriage to actress Diana Wynyard and his often childish behavior at home. He also writes well about the circumstances surrounding the director's major films, particularly the humiliating experience of grappling with Marlon Brando in Mutiny on the Bounty, which led to Reed's firing after a year of work that produced seven minutes of footage. However, Wapshott has little of interest to say about the films themselves, relying mainly on quotes from contemporary reviews. Proficiently written and well researched, this book begs a simple question: If Reed's work is for the most part undistinguished, why bother?

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 1994

ISBN: 0-679-40288-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1994

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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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