Re: Guest Post - Showbiz Interviews

1

"They got the bruisy knees..." ♫


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 10:14 AM
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Racism used to be so much more detailed:

Sardinians, for example, have stubby little fingers. ­Bosnians have short necks.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 10:25 AM
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I lost the link to Standpipe's blog, so I can't tell if 1 is an intentional or unintentional example of "misheard lyrics".


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 10:33 AM
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I agree with Heebie about "Showbiz Kids"

I don't know what you're looking for in terms of "showbiz memoirs" but I can recommend some film memoirs.

Most recently I read Shooting To Kill by Christine Vachon which is self-indulgent in places, but really interesting.

Which Lie Did I Tell by William Goldman was good and extremely readable, as you'd expect.

Hello, he lied by Linda Obst is slight but nevertheless holds up well.

Not a showbiz memoir, and one I haven't read yet, but Renoir, My Father, has been highly recommended.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 10:34 AM
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hmmm. it's one of my very least favorite Steely Dan songs.

Don't Take Me Alive
Haitian Divorce
Deacon Blue
Peg
Kid Charlemagne


Posted by: cleek | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 10:46 AM
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I've heard that David Niven and Katherine Hepburn's memoirs are good, but I've never read them.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 10:52 AM
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I've also heard good things about David Niven's memoirs.

But I haven't read them either.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 10:56 AM
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Also, I used to be very fond of Steely Dan, but making the mistake of seeing them live a few years back just killed them for me. I mean I get that they are studio perfectionists but Jesus they just had no swing or ability to play loose at all, which is really not great if you have a jazz based sound. Also they were pretty much gross old dorks with no stage presence and like the worst audience ever.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 10:58 AM
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I've not read Niven either, but I'd guess that the subject -- dapper hard partying WW2 commando -- is intrinsically more interesting than most.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:02 AM
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I read the second volume of Niven's memoirs when I was in Samoa. I think it was amusing, but the only anecdote that's stuck is of him skiing in the Italian Alps in insufficiently windproof pants, and realizing that he was literally freezing his cock off, leading to skiing into the lodge and desperately trying to convey his need for first aid in Italian, despite not actually speaking the language. Somehow he ended up submerging his bits in a brandy snifter full of whiskey, which sounds like a terrible idea in so many ways.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:02 AM
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5: If we're going to be nominating favorites, my top choices (in chronological order) would be

Kings
Razor Boy
The Boston Rag
Pretzel Logic
Chain Lightning
Kid Charlemagne
Haitian Divorce
Deacon Blues
Hey Nineteen
West of Hollywood
Godwhacker
Everything Must Go

I'd put "Show Biz Kids" in at around the 60th or 70th percentile.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:03 AM
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Following up 7, I always thought it was kind of cool that Niven played a British commando in WWII in The Guns of Naverone after actually being a British commando in WWII.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:04 AM
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I have mentioned Hollywood Lesbians in every other medium as an entertaining book of showbiz interviews and now I will mention it here! This guy Boze Hadleigh talks to all these actresses of the Hollywood golden age or just after (and a few offscreen personalities like Edith head) who were known to be lesbians. Almost all of them are extremely cagey but they all basically talk about it. Sometimes it's coded. Sometimes they are pretty pissy about it and, in the case of Stanwyck, she angrily ends the interview after he takes an incredibly insensitive approach.

I should read the Billy Wilder thing. I glanced through a bio on him but really just read the chapters on Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard. Conversations are certainly more interesting than narrative biography. In fact I rarely read biographies because they can be so dull, but one I adore is George Plimpton's Truman Capote book, which is made up exclusively of oral history.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:05 AM
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Luis Bunuel's memoir is pretty awesome. The more showbizzy parts in the middle are quite entertaining. Based on stories recounted to me by my old frenemy who loved showbiz memoirs, the ones from forgotten big stars from the 50s and 60s seem to have the best anecdotes. Probably have to go to the physical library for those.

Also, I suppose I should put in a plug for this new YA novel by a friend of mine: http://www.amazon.com/Starstruck-Rachel-Shukert/dp/0385741081

I haven't read it yet, but I like her own memoirs and other writings.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:07 AM
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David Niven

Obligatory link to me raving about the opening scene in A Matter Of Life And Death


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:09 AM
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Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated is a pretty good memoir. By Alison Arngrim.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:09 AM
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With Nails, a collection of Richard E. Grant's diaries from his various film sets, is pretty entertaining.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:10 AM
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18

Christopher Lee's Lord of Misrule was good.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:16 AM
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I love it that Megan is reading memoirs of supporting TV characters. I think we should have a book reading group where we discuss the memoirs of "Jackee" from 227 and "Nick" from Family Ties.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:24 AM
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Bogdanovich's earlier conversations with Welles in This Is Orson Welles are great, but not if you're mainly interested in gossip. Also great are many of his conversations with directors in Who the Devil Made It? (Who the Hell's in It? isn't as good but it's worth poking through.) Chaplin's autobiography is fantastic. The Altman oral biography maybe sort of qualifies as memoir, and it's a very good mix of serious and gossipy. Oh and 17 reminds me that Bob Balaban's diary of the making of Close Encounters was surprisingly interesting.

Shame they couldn't get someone better than Biskind to edit this Welles/Jaglom material, although I guess if it's all just this kind of showbiz gossip he's the right choice.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:31 AM
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Reagan is the best example, he confused fiction with fact. Or Elvis.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:32 AM
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Of shows I barely watched. But the book is good!


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:35 AM
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3: what? Well, now I've googled but it was legitimately misheard some 20 years ago and never reconsidered. The real lyrics ("They got the booze they need") are clearly inferior.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:39 AM
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21 - Reagan confused fiction with Elvis?


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:40 AM
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I didn't think that much of Chaplin's book. He was clearly a person with a lot of integrity who went through tough circumstances. But the book wasn't too great.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:44 AM
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It was kind of one of my favorite lines, too. Damn. I suppose I can keep singing it the wrong way, or even forget I was ever corrected.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:44 AM
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13 - There's a nice documentary, Billy Wilder Speaks. Can't remember if it's from that that I learned that von Stroheim stopped speaking German in Hollywood because Wilder recognized his (middle-class, Jewish; the "von" was an Ellis Island invention) accent.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:47 AM
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I still think I improved Dylan with "she wanted a home, and not just a hat".


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:47 AM
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"while the poor eagle's leaping and afraid of the light, while the poor eagle's leaping, owl the star, comes out at night"


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:01 PM
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I like this video using the Rickie Lee Jones cover of "Showbiz Kids."


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:11 PM
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30 - Cool--that is one of the best Steely Dan covers I've ever heard.

This, on the other hand, is one of the worst.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:19 PM
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I would like to read some of this Orson Welles stuff I guess, since he's so important, but first it would make sense to be more enamored of his films. The ones I know I admire but don't truly love. I realize this makes me a philistine.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:20 PM
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33

Good God. Is there anything more wonderful than the 70s variety show?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:21 PM
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Budd Schulberg's Moving Pictures: Memoirs of a Hollywood Prince is quite good, although (maybe because, I guess, if you want to wax Williamsburg about it) written about an era of Hollywood unfamiliar to most of us.

OT: A guy I know slightly (i) is friends with Andrew W.K. and (ii) dresses like same. This seems odd. Even if I were pals with Cary Grant, I like to think I'd take a little trouble to distinguish myself, sartoritastically.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:23 PM
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This, on the other hand, is one of the worst.

That performance was mentioned in the liner notes to Citizen Steely Dan

Flash back to the '70's, exact date undetermined. You turn on "The Donny and Marie Show", as is your self-flagellating Friday night habit, and are rewarded with one of the most weirdly funny things ever on national television: The teen sibling hosts in spangles and bell-bottoms are doing a tribute to nostalgia, in the form of a bouncy show-opening duet of Steely Dan's "Reelin' In The Years."

"The weekends at the college didn't turn out like you planned," sings Donny to Marie, by all appearances clueless to the absurdity of Fagen's and Becker's unwieldy verses in his beaming mouth. "The things that pass for knowledge I can't understand."

What kind of weekend -- at which branch of Brigham Young University -- did this brother and sister share? What sort of knowledge passed between them there? Did Donny have the slightest idea of what he was singing?

Did Steely Dan Fans, for that matter . . .

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:30 PM
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32 - He's fantastic as Unicron in Transformers: The Movie!

So I assume you've seen Kane and maybe Ambersons? Ignoring The Third Man*, I'd say your best bets are The Trial (which is great, his best work as a director in my mind) and Welles' turn as Falstaff in Chimes at Midnight. The Lady from Shanghai is kind of a hot mess, I'm less hepped on Touch of Evil than some people I know, and I've never seen any of the cuts of Mr. Arkadin that are supposed to approximate what Welles wanted to do before he ran into his inevitable production troubles.

* If you don't love The Third Man, you have other problems.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:37 PM
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37

If you don't love the all-zither soundtrack to The Third Man, I want nothing to do with you.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:44 PM
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38

That footnote was originally an aside about what constitutes an Orson Welles movie, since it's Carol "Oliver!" Reed directing, but I'll move to strike my revised version in favor of Neb's 37 in its entirety.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:50 PM
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The Third Man is a better Orson Welles movie than the any of the movies directed by Welles.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:53 PM
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40

"HE'LL HAVE YOU IN A DITHER WITH HIS ZITHER"


Posted by: OPINIONATED FILM MARKETING | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:56 PM
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Most of Touch of Evil is really good, a few scenes veer into kitsch or haven't aged well, but it's a great movie. Alos the opening scene is self-contained, can be appreciated via Youtube. High-res on a large screen if at all possible.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:59 PM
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I know Ambersons kind of. I watched it last week and actually liked it a lot after the first scenes, which feel like purely formulaic Hollywood exposition. I still have it because I feel like I ought to rewatch it, but in two weeks, I'm sure I'll return it so I can get disc 47 of some terrible tv show.

And I've seen Citizen Kane twice and liked it without understanding why it's one of the most important movies, and same I guess for Touch of Evil which I mostly love when Dietrich is onscreen, which is not often.

Watched The Lady from Shanghai during grad school aka Nervous Breakdown Lite and don't remember it well. Watched The Third Man with Bave and liked the zither and some scenes but definitely fell asleep in the middle.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:01 PM
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I'd say your best bets are The Trial (which is great, his best work as a director in my mind)

I saw that back in college, before I realized I had no appreciation for cinema. I liked the book a lot better.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:07 PM
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I wrote 43.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:11 PM
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42.second is really all about the technical innovations; it was, I dunno, Star Wars-like in pushing the state of the art in filmmaking. Gregg Toland, the cinematographer, had used deep focus before, but never as extensively; Toland and King Kong special effects whiz Linwood Dunn faked a lot of the deep focus shots they couldn't pull off using an optical printer, which had never been done before. It was the first Hollywood film to make extensive use of low-angle shots and IIRC the first to tell the bulk of the story in flashback with the present day used solely as a framing narrative. Welles and Robert Wise pioneered the use sound as a linking element in transitions between distinct scenes. Etc.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:35 PM
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To the list in 36 I'd add F for Fake (though it's an outlier in the category of "Orson Welles movies").

I was going to say how incredibly frustrating it is that it's impossible to get a good copy of Chimes in the U.S. at least, but oh look, here's what looks like a decent transfer of the whole thing on YT. Go watch it before someone takes it down!


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:37 PM
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Following up 7, I always thought it was kind of cool that Niven played a British commando in WWII in The Guns of Navarone after actually being a British commando in WWII.

And having been asked to quit the pre-war British army for basically being an endlessly partying, skirt-chasing, disobedient, unprofessional slacker. Not long after that, the guy who sacked him transferred to the Guards, and was then binned for marrying an actress. During WW2, the guy who sacked him was recalled, fell out with his old regiment again, and volunteered for special forces; Niven, having lied to Sam Goldwyn that he'd been mobilised, went back to the UK and volunteered into his old unit, couldn't stand them again, and signed up for the same pirate gang who'd recruited his old boss because they needed at least one old school soldier to keep their admin together.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:37 PM
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Niven's Bring on the Empty Horses was worthwhile. When I read it (a long time ago) I had very little idea of who many of the stars - Garbo? Errol Flynn? - were. But he had a very breezy style.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:44 PM
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I liked Jackie Chan's autobiography.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 2:39 PM
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Has anyone read Cameron Crowe's conversations with Billy Wilder?

Yes! It's got a lot of good anecdotes. Recommended.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 2:46 PM
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There's also a book that's Michael Ondaatje's interviews with the sound editor Walter Murch (most famous for his work on The Conversation). The Ondaatje parts are sometimes sort of insufferable but the Murch parts are great.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 2:49 PM
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Jackie Chan's autobiography is great. Roger Corman's book is fantastic.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 2:50 PM
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32: The ones I know I admire but don't truly love.

Yeatsian:

Those that I fight I do not hate
Those that I guard I do not love


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 2:56 PM
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Uber-war photographer Don McCullin's book Unreasonable Behaviour is great. Both real daring and tales of derring-do, and also very bleak and sad. There's a story (and photo) in it from when he was in Biafra that still haunts me. Not really show biz, I suppose, but very good.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 3:42 PM
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first to tell the bulk of the story in flashback with the present day used solely as a framing narrative

I think The Power and the Glory is actually the first. But IIRC it's more of a Marlowe-style narration than the way the flashbacks work in Citizen Kane.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 5:02 PM
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Conrad Marlowe, not Chandler Marlowe.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 5:03 PM
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first to tell the bulk of the story in flashback with the present day used solely as a framing narrative

Common in print well before Kane, though. "Heart of Darkness". "Frankenstein". "The Odyssey", kind of.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 9:37 PM
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Wasn't that the ONLY form of novel for generations? In that it was customary to be framed in the form of "I am a real person, and now that I am an old man, let me relate to you my great adventures", or "I am a scholar, here are some writings I found about a certain man's great adventures"


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 9:47 PM
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"Lying here in my bed, several things occur to me that may be of interest..."


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:32 PM
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