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Let’s not overthink this

Michael Wood, 9 September 1993

... eight years he was Rowdy Yates in Rawhide and was discovered by Sergio Leone, supposedly because James Coburn didn’t want the job and everyone else was too expensive. Back in America after making three Italian films (in Spain), Eastwood founded his own company, Malpaso, in 1968, and has kept his independence, and a reputation for working quickly and for ...

Seeing Stars

Alan Bennett: Film actors, 3 January 2002

... claimed to have seen him behind the counter. Then he’d joined the Rep before becoming a star. James Mason was another local boy who had made good, though from what beginnings I wasn’t sure: maybe he’d worked in a gents’ outfitters too. ‘Making good’ meant getting out, as you would have to do if you were going to be a film star, but which applied ...

In His Pink Negligée

Colm Tóibín: The Ruthless Truman Capote, 21 April 2005

The Complete Stories 
by Truman Capote.
Random House, 400 pp., $24.95, September 2004, 0 679 64310 9
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Too Brief a Treat: The Letters of Truman Capote 
edited by Gerald Clarke.
Random House, 487 pp., $27.95, September 2004, 0 375 50133 9
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... it ‘rather dreary’. The following year, when Another Country appeared, he made his position on James Baldwin clear: ‘I loathe Jimmy’s fiction: it is crudely written and of a balls-aching boredom.’ In 1960 he found something he did like. He announced to David Selznick that ‘a delightful book’ called To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was ‘going ...

A Little Swine

Sheila Fitzpatrick: On Snitching, 3 November 2005

Comrade Pavlik: The Rise and Fall of a Soviet Boy Hero 
by Catriona Kelly.
Granta, 352 pp., £17.99, May 2005, 1 86207 747 9
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... names before the House Un-American Activities Committee) in On the Waterfront (1954), starring Marlon Brando as a longshoreman who risks his life by breaking ranks and denouncing the mob; while the counter-view of denunciation as betrayal was presented in Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge (1955), the story of a docker who turns in his wife’s ...

So Hard to Handle

John Lahr: In Praise of Joni Mitchell, 22 February 2018

Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell 
by David Yaffe.
Farrar, Straus, 420 pp., £20, October 2017, 978 0 374 24813 0
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... of the process of writing, she’s building a canvas as well as she is putting on the paint,’ James Taylor, another conquest, explained. ‘It’s never straight on.’ Mitchell’s lyrical indirection, the habit of thinking against conventional tropes, is an extension of what she calls her ‘perverse need for originality’, a manifestation of a ...

Cutty, One Rock

August Kleinzahler: My Big Bad Brother, 21 August 2003

... mug: good bones, a nicely shaped head, straight nose, brown eyes, full mouth. A bit like the young Marlon Brando, in fact, especially around the eyes. In this good fortune, he took after the men on my mother’s side of the family. Me, I got stuck with the other. In retrospect, for someone that good-looking and wild, he didn’t have a lot of girlfriends at ...

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