David Thomson

David Thomson’s most recent book is The Fatal Alliance: A Century of War on Film.

On the Red Carpet

David Thomson, 7 March 2024

Foryears now, the television audience for the Oscars has been in decline. In 2023, the Academy’s big night had 18.7 million viewers; in 1998, the Titanic year, it was 57 million. This is getting to be like the last stages in musical chairs. Folklore says the Academy hires good-looking suits and gowns to fill the theatre seats when stars and quasars retreat to the bar or take...

Martinique in Burbank: Bogart and Bacall

David Thomson, 19 October 2023

Werethey art, or publicity? Can we settle on ‘magic’? Humphrey Bogart was born on Christmas Day, 1899. Lauren Bacall died on 12 August 2014. So the span of William Mann’s well-researched dual biography is some 115 years. But a case can be made that the ‘greatest love affair’ promised by Mann amounted to no more than 216 minutes in the busy years of the...

Peachy: LA Rhapsody

David Thomson, 27 January 2022

This​ is a fabulous book, beautiful, generous, sombre and wise, a wistful romance about a man writing a book like Always Crashing in the Same Car. Don’t fall for that subtitle – a mere concession to academic access and what used to be called the zeitgeist. As if a book as good as this can really be expected to flourish. As if, even in LA, there is a crowd waiting for a...

Weare blessed with two books that combine to give us the fullest and most discerning portrait of a movie star we will ever have. But Cary Grant deserves this as much as we do. His subject is Pretending. There are those among us who felt our lives were shaped by the balanced but enigmatic Grant, even as we knew (without understanding properly) that this tanned Mr Lucky, a Beverly Hills...

We’re not​ dealing with an ordinary man, or a conformist. There he is in the abandoned shell of Fort Point in San Francisco, this fierce and frightened man, looking like Lee Marvin. The fat parcel of money he has been demanding throughout the film is at his feet. All he has to do is pick it up. Instead, he fades into the darkness. What kind of movie is Point Blank? And what kind of...

Pink and Bare: Nicole Kidman

Bee Wilson, 8 February 2007

To understand Nicole Kidman, David Thomson argues, you need to see a film called In the Cut. Not because Kidman is in it. She isn’t. The film stars Meg Ryan, is directed by Jane Campion and...

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Mad Monk: not going to the movies

Jenny Diski, 6 February 2003

I think it is two years since I’ve been to the cinema. This is something of a mystery to me, like love gone wrong: in fact, it is love gone wrong. Was the love misguided in the first place,...

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People shouldn’t be fat

Zachary Leader, 3 October 1996

By the end of his life Orson Welles weighed 350 pounds. His appetite, though, was not a late development. In Simon Callow’s biography the composer Virgil Thomson reports the 22-year-old...

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The Real Magic

David Sylvester, 8 June 1995

I probably wouldn’t have chosen a work of criticism rather than Proust if the Bible and Shakespeare weren’t already there, but for some years now I have taken the view that my...

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Train Loads of Ammunition

Philip Horne, 1 August 1985

In his own words ‘a queer fish’, Sergei Eisenstein declares at one point in this 1946 memoir that he worked amphibiously, by extremes. ‘I create an arbitrary and capricious...

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