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Varrrroooom!

Aaron Matz: Céline, 25 March 2010

Normance 
by Louis-Ferdinand Céline, translated by Marlon Jones.
Dalkey Archive, 371 pp., £9.99, June 2009, 978 1 56478 525 1
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... style is a permanent challenge to anyone who has the courage to translate Céline. With Normance, Marlon Jones has done as good a job as anyone could hope to do, even while taking note, in his introduction, of Céline’s contempt for translators. Céline called them ‘trouducteurs’, a neologism merging the words for translator and anus. It is a ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Flirtation, Seduction and Betrayal, 5 September 2002

... makes up for (nearly) everything, however, with a terrific anecdote about Truman Capote and Marlon Brando. CAPOTE: You tell him about yourself, and slowly spin your web so that he tells you everything. That’s how I trapped Marlon. BRANDO: The little bastard spent half the night telling me his problems. I figured ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Michael Jackson’s frailties, 31 March 2005

... fallen idols of American popular culture, challenging listeners to ‘name the last good film that Marlon Brando made/While trying to keep his kid from going to jail.’ ‘Too late to crash, too late to burn, too late to die young,’ goes the chorus. The song is softened somewhat by the singer’s sense of his own life lacking much direction or purpose; and ...

Top Sergeant

D.A.N. Jones, 23 April 1992

An Autobiography 
by Fred Zinnemann.
Bloomsbury, 256 pp., £25, February 1992, 0 7475 1131 4
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... for invasion and insurrection than those surprised Americans at Pearl Harbor. The movie (and James Jones’s novel, on which it was based) presented that peace-time army as a community wherein a vicious and slothful officer might neglect his duties, turning over his responsibilities to the Top Sergeant, while the Other Ranks (or the Enlisted Men, as the ...

When students ruled the earth

D.A.N. Jones, 17 March 1988

1968: A Student Generation in Revolt 
by Ronald Fraser.
Chatto, 370 pp., £14.95, January 1988, 0 7011 2913 1
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Street Fighting Years: An Autobiography of the Sixties 
by Tariq Ali.
Collins, 280 pp., £12.95, November 1987, 9780002177795
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Sixty-Eight: The Year of the Barricades 
by David Caute.
Hamish Hamilton, 464 pp., £14.95, January 1988, 0 241 12174 4
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Nineteen Sixty-Eight: A Personal Report 
by Hans Koning.
Unwin Hyman, 196 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 9780044401858
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... I was interviewed by a Swiss television team: ‘Don’t you think England might go Fascist, Mr Jones? A quiet English sort of Fascism?’ ‘Abs’lument pas!’ I snapped (quoting from a favourite French film), ‘Abs’lument pas!’ – with a confidence I could not muster today. Then, a contemporary at a college reunion (a conservative chap, working ...

The Old Feudalist

D.A.N. Jones, 3 July 1986

Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass 
by Karen Blixen.
Penguin, 351 pp., £3.95, January 1986, 0 14 008533 5
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Out of Africa 
by Karen Blixen.
Century, 288 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 7126 1016 2
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Isak Dinesen: The Life of Karen Blixen 
by Judith Thurman.
Penguin, 511 pp., £3.50, April 1986, 9780140096996
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... Robert Redford. He should have taken lessons in the British accent from the hard-working Marlon Brando. Firmly hooked to the movie, this elaborate Century edition of Out of Africa is packed with illustrations which will appeal to nostalgic movie-weepers but have nothing to do with the text. We are reading about an interesting Kikuyu called ...

Lost in Beauty

Michael Newton: Montgomery Clift, 7 October 2010

The Passion of Montgomery Clift 
by Amy Lawrence.
California, 333 pp., £16.95, May 2010, 978 0 520 26047 4
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... the greatest risks. Here he plays an American-Italian trying to continue his romance with Jennifer Jones, an American wife and mother, while she tries to end it by catching a train out of Rome. For all his beauty, Clift comes across as spoilt and unappealing, sabotaging our compassion. It’s a charmingly decentred film, the camera drifting towards other ...

Always the Same Dream

Ferdinand Mount: Princess Margaret, 4 January 2018

Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret 
by Craig Brown.
Fourth Estate, 423 pp., £16.99, September 2017, 978 0 00 820361 0
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... that not to meet the Snowdons was ‘like being in the Garden of Eden without seeing God’. Marlon Brando persuaded Kenneth Tynan to ask her to dinner à trois and then was so tongue-tied that he couldn’t address a word to her except through Tynan: ‘Would you ask the princess what she thinks of …’ Tynan himself wanted to postpone his ...

The Tarnished Age

Richard Mayne, 3 September 1981

David O. Selznick’s Hollywood 
by Ronald Haver.
Secker, 425 pp., £35, December 1980, 0 436 19128 8
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My Early life 
by Ronald Reagan and Richard Hubler.
Sidgwick, 316 pp., £7.95, April 1981, 0 283 98771 5
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Naming Names 
by Victor Navasky.
Viking, 482 pp., $15.95, October 1980, 0 670 50393 2
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... failed. He ‘discovered’ the 21-year-old Phyllis Walker, née Isley, renamed her ‘Jennifer Jones’, and suggested her as the saintly heroine of The Song of Bernadette. Later, he recast her – as the sultry Pearl Chavez in Duel in the Sun, otherwise ‘Lust in the Dust’. Finally, he married her. Perhaps, behind all the business acumen and concern ...

Seeing Stars

Alan Bennett: Film actors, 3 January 2002

... Boyer, we were not called on to stand up against the Nazi oppressor or battle like Jennifer Jones against the small-mindedness of nuns or like Cornel Wilde cough blood over the piano keys in order to liberate our country from the foreign yoke. Films taught you to be happy that you were ordinary. Ordinary but not respectable, because in films respectable ...

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