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In the dark

Philip Horne

1 December 1983
The Life of Alfred Hitchcock: The Dark Side of Genius 
by Donald Spoto.
Collins, 594 pp., £12.95, May 1983, 0 00 216352 7
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Howard Hawks, Storyteller 
by Gerald Mast.
Oxford, 406 pp., £16.50, June 1983, 0 19 503091 5
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... 1980 to contradict this idea, and, for all its blandness and sparseness of reference, brought much information to light. Its blurb called it ‘the only serious biography of the man himself’. Now DonaldSpoto, author of The Art of Alfred Hitchcock (1976), has undertaken to show The Dark Side of Genius, on the ground that (according to his blurb) ‘the intensely private, secretive Hitchcock eluded ...
5 September 1985
The Kindness of Strangers: The Life of Tennessee Williams 
by Donald Spoto.
Bodley Head, 409 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 370 30847 6
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Tennessee Williams on File 
by Catherine Arnott.
Methuen, 80 pp., £7.95, May 1985, 0 413 58550 6
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... he seemed to encourage this view. ‘I am going to be reviewed more than the play,’ he wrote anxiously – and accurately – to his agent, on the opening of Small Craft Warnings in 1971. DonaldSpoto believes the story he has pieced together reveals his subject ‘as a man more disturbing, more dramatic, richer and more wonderful than any character he ever created’. This orotund declaration is ...

All together

Humphrey Carpenter

7 December 1989
The Safest Place in the World: A Personal History of British Rhythm and Blues 
by Dick Heckstall-Smith.
Quartet, 178 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 7043 2696 5
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Mama said there’d be days like these: My Life in the Jazz World 
by Val Wilmer.
Women’s Press, 336 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 7043 5040 8
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Lenya: A Life 
by Donald Spoto.
Viking, 371 pp., £15.95, September 1989, 0 670 81211 0
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... as Billie Holliday and Ella Fitzgerald, this branch of music remains essentially a masculine preserve – again, this is a subject Val Wilmer frequently touches, but never seems to grasp – and from DonaldSpoto’s life of Lotte Lenya it seems that the music-theatre of Kurt Weill, for all the considerable prominence it gave to female performers, was run by the men too. The most surprising aspect of ...

Laertes has a daughter

Bee Wilson: The Redgraves

6 June 2013
The Redgraves: A Family Epic 
by Donald Spoto.
Robson, 361 pp., £25, November 2012, 978 1 84954 394 1
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The House of Redgrave: The Lives of a Theatrical Dynasty 
by Tim Adler.
Aurum, 336 pp., £20, July 2012, 978 1 84513 623 9
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... from his earlier days’. As late as 1978 he and four other actors toured Canada, South Africa, the US, Europe and South America with a medley of scenes from Shakespeare. ‘His voice was quiet,’ DonaldSpoto writes in his new study of the Redgrave family, but still expressive, and his gait often unsteady, but audiences seemed to provide him with a shot of adrenalin, and spectators were invariably ...

St Marilyn

Andrew O’Hagan: The Girl and Me

6 January 2000
The Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe 
Christie’s, 415 pp., $85, September 1999, 0 903432 64 1Show More
The Complete Marilyn Monroe 
by Adam Victor.
Thames and Hudson, 339 pp., £29.95, November 1999, 0 500 01978 9
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Marilyn Monroe 
by Barbara Leaming.
Orion, 474 pp., £8.99, October 1999, 0 7528 2692 1
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... Milo Speriglio and Robert Slatzer (a bit of a cross-category-turn this last one: he claims to have been married to Monroe for three days). There is a new addition to this group, a hysterical book by Donald H. Wolfe which may just prove to be the conspiracy sub-genre’s reductio ad absurdum: Bobby Kennedy and Sam Giancana and Marilyn’s psychotherapist tripping over each other in an effort to commit ...

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