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Sabotage

Gavin Millar, 13 September 1990

Citizen Welles: A Biography of Orson Welles 
by Frank Brady.
Hodder, 655 pp., £18.95, January 1990, 0 340 51389 6
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If this was happiness: A Biography of Rita Hayworth 
by Barbara Leaming.
Weidenfeld, 312 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 297 79630 5
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Norma Shearer 
by Gavin Lambert.
Hodder, 381 pp., £17.95, August 1990, 0 340 52947 4
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Ava’s Men: The Private Life of Ava Gardner 
by Jane Ellen Wayne.
Robson, 268 pp., £14.95, November 1989, 0 86051 636 9
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Goldwyn: A Biography 
by Scott Berg.
Hamish Hamilton, 579 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 241 12832 3
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The Genius of the System: Hollywood Film-Making in the Studio Era 
by Thomas Schatz.
Simon and Schuster, 514 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 671 69708 0
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... Extravagance and self-indulgence were among the kinder accusations levelled at Orson Welles by industry chiefs. For the most part the charges were unjust. Not only was Welles possibly the most distinguished film artist to be abused and all but broken by the system, and by leading individuals within it (including politicians, newspaper magnates, journalists, gossip-columnists and even critics), he was possibly the least culpable ...

‘Mmmmm’ not ‘Hmmm’

Michael Wood: Katharine Hepburn, 11 September 2003

Kate Remembered 
by A. Scott Berg.
Simon and Schuster, 318 pp., £18.99, July 2003, 0 7432 0676 2
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... everyone – director, actors, audiences – that the flaw must be very slight, and perhaps even an advantage, a wrinkle that enhances the smoothness of the rest. But it’s there and it’s this. The heroine is bright, rich, funny, classy, but a little censorious – she can’t forgive ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: Katharine Hepburn, 5 March 2015

... On screen​ , Katharine Hepburn looks as if she has made a curious contract with time. She has promised not to change, and time has promised not to count properly. Of course time can’t halt entirely. It’s a long long way from May to December, as the song says, or from Bill of Divorcement (1932) to Love Affair (1994), and you can see much of the road in the current season of Hepburn films at the BFI ...

A, E♭, C, B

Paul Driver: Robert Schumann, 21 February 2008

Robert Schumann: Life and Death of a Musician 
by John Worthen.
Yale, 496 pp., £25, July 2007, 978 0 300 11160 6
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The Cambridge Companion to Schumann 
edited by Beate Perrey.
Cambridge, 302 pp., £19.99, June 2007, 978 0 521 78950 9
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Schumann’s Late Style 
by Laura Tunbridge.
Cambridge, 246 pp., £50, October 2007, 978 0 521 87168 6
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... Robert Schumann died in an asylum near Bonn in 1856, having committed himself there two years before, following a suicidal plunge into the Rhine near his home in Düsseldorf. He had had many periods of depression and anxiety before that, and biographers have tended to regard his life as a continuous fight against the congenital mental instability to which the deaths of his sister and father when he was in his teens have also been attributed ...

Mad to Be Saved

Thomas Powers: The Kerouac Years, 25 October 2012

The Voice Is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac 
by Joyce Johnson.
Viking, 489 pp., £25, September 2012, 978 0 670 02510 7
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... and last dollar were all just about exhausted when the young writer Joyce Glassman bought him a dinner of hot dogs and beans on a Saturday night in New York City in January 1957. Glassman understood he was broke, but the rest she learned only later. She thought Kerouac was beautiful, with his blue eyes and sunburned ...

On ‘Fidelio’

Edward Said, 30 October 1997

... repertory that has the power to sway audiences even when it is indifferently performed. Yet it is a highly problematic work whose triumphant conclusion and the impression it is designed to convey of goodness winning out over evil do not go to the heart of what Beethoven was grappling with. Not that its plot is complex, or that, like many of the French operas ...

What I heard about Iraq in 2005

Eliot Weinberger: Iraq, 5 January 2006

... lots, that thousands of sandbags had been filled with dirt and archaeological fragments, that a 2600-year-old brick pavement had been crushed by tanks, and that the moulded bricks of dragons had been gouged out from the Ishtar Gate by soldiers collecting souvenirs. I heard that the ruins of the Sumerian cities of Umma, Umm ...

Memoirs of a Pet Lamb

David Sylvester: A Memoir, 5 July 2001

... parents told me about it, proudly, some years later, when I was about nine or ten. We had gone to a tea-shop on boat-race day where a lady had kindly asked whether I was Oxford or Cambridge. I had answered: ‘I’m a Jew.’A good deal of ...

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