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Location: Vero Beach, Florida, United States

My name is Pat and I live in Florida. My skin will never be smooth again and my hair will never see color. I enjoy collecting autographs and playing in Paint Shop Pro.,along with reading and writing. Sometimes, I enjoy myself by doing volunteer "work" helping celebrities at autograph shows. I love animals and at one time I did volunteer work for Tippi Hedren's Shambala Preserve.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Who the Hell's In It?

Who The Hell's In It: Conversations with Hollywood's Legendary Actors by Peter Bogdanovich.

A name that doesn't exactly roll off your lips... He's a man who acted in some 32 movies, wrote 10 screen plays and directed 30 movies, among them, The Last Picture Show 1971, What's up Doc? 1972, and Nickelodeon 1976.

So why did I buy this book? I'm not a hundred percent sure why I had sent for this book .! I know I like biographies but the review of this book didn't read as one... so I don't know what made me send for it, but I'm glad I did.

This is a very interesting book! It's refreshing to read views of actors that is NOT a biography. But still by someone who worked with actors for many years. In this book Actor, writer, director, Peter Bogdanovich gives his thoughts and memories of actors he met along his own path of life.

Paperback: 544 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 25, 2005)
ISBN-10: 0345480023

Product Description
Peter Bogdanovich, known primarily as a director, film historian and critic, has been working with professional actors all his life. He started out as an actor (he debuted on the stage in his sixth-grade production of Finian’s Rainbow); he watched actors work (he went to the theater every week from the age of thirteen and saw every important show on, or off, Broadway for the next decade); he studied acting, starting at sixteen, with Stella Adler (his work with her became the foundation for all he would ever do as an actor and a director).

Now, in his new book, Who the Hell’s in It, Bogdanovich draws upon a lifetime of experience, observation and understanding of the art to write about the actors he came to know along the way; actors he admired from afar; actors he worked with, directed, befriended. Among them: Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, John Cassavetes, Charlie Chaplin, Montgomery Clift, Marlene Dietrich, Henry Fonda, Ben Gazzara, Audrey Hepburn, Boris Karloff, Dean Martin, Marilyn Monroe, River Phoenix, Sidney Poitier, Frank Sinatra, and James Stewart.
Bogdanovich captures—in their words and his—their work, their individual styles, what made them who they were, what gave them their appeal and why they’ve continued to be America’s iconic actors.

On Lillian Gish: “the first virgin hearth goddess of the screen . . . a valiant and courageous symbol of fortitude and love through all distress.”

On Marlon Brando: “He challenged himself never to be the same from picture to picture, refusing to become the kind of film star the studio system had invented and thrived upon—the recognizable human commodity each new film was built around . . . The funny thing is that Brando’s charismatic screen persona was vividly apparent despite the multiplicity of his guises . . . Brando always remains recognizable, a star-actor in spite of himself. ”

Jerry Lewis to Bogdanovich on the first laugh Lewis ever got onstage: “I was five years old. My mom and dad had a tux made—I worked in the borscht circuit with them—and I came out and I sang, ‘Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?’ the big hit at the time . . . It was 1931, and I stopped the show—naturally—a five-year-old in a tuxedo is not going to stop the show? And I took a bow and my foot slipped and hit one of the floodlights and it exploded and the smoke and the sound scared me so I started to cry. The audience laughed—they were hysterical . . . So I knew I had to get the rest of my laughs the rest of my life, breaking, sitting, falling, spinning.”

John Wayne to Bogdanovich, on the early years of Wayne’s career when he was working as a prop man: “Well, I’ve naturally studied John Ford professionally as well as loving the man. Ever since the first time I walked down his set as a goose-herder in 1927. They needed somebody from the prop department to keep the geese from getting under a fake hill they had for Mother Machree at Fox. I’d been hired because Tom Mix wanted a box seat for the USC football games, and so they promised jobs to Don Williams and myself and a couple of the players. They buried us over in the properties department, and Mr. Ford’s need for a goose-herder just seemed to fit my pistol.”
These twenty-six portraits and conversations are unsurpassed in their evocation of a certain kind of great movie star that has vanished. Bogdanovich’s book is a celebration and a farewell.

If I may.. I have a few parts of the book to share also:

A little something he says about Jerry Lewis:

Men are taught to keep their deepest feelings always in check. How refreshing if more guys copped to being scared: there is humility to that. Which is why Jerry was so appealing to women- they recognized his vulnerability in themselves. At his peak, Lewis was often referred to as a spastic, a retard, The Idiot; never admitting that the reason you laugh at his openly expressed fears is because you've felt them, recognized his reactions as ones you've had inwardly yourself. That's why the Lewis laughs were often so gut-busting: Jerry's behavior touched some true identification. Yet who would own up to it?

About Jimmy Stewart:

Although I never saw Stewart working on a picture, I did actually direct him one afternoon when we shot an interview in his Beverly Hills backyard for "Directed by John Ford-1971), a feature-length documentary I made for the American Film Institute. We had audio-taped a long conversation about Ford in October 1968: this was transcribed and then I pulled out the sections I wanted Stewart to tell me on camera, and gave those pages to him on the day we shot, about a month later. Since I filmed Wayne and Fonda for this work, too, the major differences between the three actors were noticeable, all having to talk spontaneously-though knowing which stories they would be telling- but without any set script. Both Wayne and Fonda stumbled here and there, lost of flubbed their words a bit, repeated themselves, but Stewart was absolutely flawless.

On James Cagney:

He was different from most of the great stars of the golden age in that he often played villains-even late in his career- comically in "Mister Rogers" (1955), with unsentimental pathos in "Love Me or Leave Me" (1955), with complicated and disturbing psychopathic ambivalence in "White Heat". His essential persona was as fixed in the public's consciousness as Bogart's or Cooper's or Gable's but- being a more resourceful and versatile actor- he could express ambiguities in a character even if they weren't written into the script or featured by the direction. Because he was innately so sympathetic, his heavies created an intriguing, even alarming, tension in the audience.

This book was really an insite to some very talented people that you probably would not read about in Biographies or Autobiographies, and I found them interesting. Many times how a person responds to things tells you more about the person than what they might actually have said.

This was a good book and I'd recommend it to anyone who is interested in reading information about actors and actresses, the likes of which we will never see again.


Blogger Cath said...

The only thing I know about Peter Bogdanovich is he was married to whatshername. Can't remember her name but she was in Moonlighting with Bruce Willis. Cybil something but now I'm not even sure if I have the right person... But this book sounds like a lot of fun. The old time actors were so different to those of today. I remember Jimmy Stewart coming on to a chat show here some years ago and telling how his dog had died recently - he may have been reading from his own book I'm not not certain now. But he had such quiet dignity that there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Wonderful.

11:52 AM  
Blogger DesLily said...

Cath: you have the right person! He divorced his first wife to be with Cybil Shepard but never married her. (go figure huh?! lol)

11:57 AM  
Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I am going to get this book, Pat. I love Biographies and Auto-Biographies though I must say I have always a strange kind of negative feeling about Bogdonovich...I cannot explain it exactly...Still, I would love to read this book. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

3:21 PM  
Blogger DesLily said...

hi Naomi: I was sorta surprised that I enjoyed this book (it's very long too!) But once you get going each chapter is mainly on a different person, so you can rest between chapters if you want. I think it was interesting because it was a view from someone other than the person theirself..I think that way you really learn something. Gladly, there seems to be no really bad negativity in it either. I haven't startet the Lumet book yet, but did get it in the mail.. soon I hope.

3:27 PM  
Blogger Pamela said...

when I read that John Wayne quote I could just picture him saying that.

3:36 AM  
Blogger DesLily said...

Hi Pam: I loved John Wayne.. I think my favorite movie of his though was NOT a western!.. it was "The Quiet Man" with Maureen O'Hara.

7:18 AM  

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