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Talking More, Lassooing Less

Michael Rogin, 19 June 1997

American Original: A Life of Will Rogers 
by Ray Robinson.
Oxford, 288 pp., $30, January 1997, 0 19 508693 7
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... Will Rogers died in 1935 the most loved man in America. Ray Robinson, who was 14 years old, remembers the news reaching his summer camp by radio and spreading like wildfire from bungalow to bungalow. No death since Abraham Lincoln’s (the kidnapping and killing of the Lindbergh child aside) had moved the country so much ...

At the Barbican

Saul Nelson: Jean-Michel Basquiat, 4 January 2018

... strong and heroic because they have to be mediated through the horrors of the present. Sugar Ray Robinson (1982) and Jack Johnson (1982) and the figures in King Zulu are half-formed, mutilated, scratched out to become negatives. Basquiat typically composed his figures from pure black pigment and added contours and features in white. For him, the ...

Homage to Satyajit Ray

Salman Rushdie, 8 March 1990

Satyajit RayThe Inner Eye 
by Andrew Robinson.
Deutsch, 412 pp., £17.95, November 1989, 0 233 98473 9
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... never forget the excitement in my mind after seeing it,’ Akira Kurosawa said about Satyajit Ray’s first film, Pather Panchali (The Song of the Little Road), and it’s true: this movie, made for next to nothing, mostly with untrained actors, by a director who was learning (and making up) the rules as he went along, is a work of such lyrical and ...

Paliography

John Sutherland, 15 September 1988

The Secret Life of Wilkie Collins 
by William Clarke.
Allison and Busby, 239 pp., £14.95, August 1988, 0 85031 960 9
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Wilkie Collins: Women, Property and Propriety 
by Philip O’Neill.
Macmillan, 238 pp., £27.50, September 1988, 9780333421994
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... According to Gordon Ray, writing in 1956, all that posterity could reasonably expect to know about the elusive Wilkie Collins was his name and dates of birth and death. This has proved to be an exaggeration. Thanks to Kenneth Robinson (whose revised Wilkie Collins, A Biography came out in 1974) and now, preeminently, to William Clarke, we now know much more – especially about Collins’s family affairs, or scandals, as they would have seemed to his contemporaries ...

You’ve got it or you haven’t

Iain Sinclair, 25 February 1993

Inside the Firm: The Untold Story of the Krays’ Reign of Terror 
by Tony Lambrianou and Carol Clerk.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.99, October 1992, 0 330 32284 2
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Gangland: London’s Underworld 
by James Morton.
Little, Brown, 349 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 356 20889 3
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Nipper: The Story of Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read 
by Leonard Read and James Morton.
Warner, 318 pp., £5.99, September 1992, 0 7515 0001 1
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Smash and Grab: Gangsters in the London Underworld 
by Robert Murphy.
Faber, 182 pp., £15.99, February 1993, 0 571 15442 5
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... of Control (and the opportunity to meet, and be photographed with. Jack ‘Kid’ Berg, Sugar Ray Robinson, Mike Tyson etc). The Choker that forced Read to leave the Yard came at the conclusion of the triumphant Kray enquiry. The men upstairs refused permission for the celebratory tie for which Read had designed the prototype. ‘The double initials ...

What’s going on, Eric?

David Renton: Rock Against Racism, 22 November 2018

Walls Come Tumbling Down: The Music and Politics of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone and Red Wedge 
by Daniel Rachel.
Picador, 589 pp., £12.99, May 2017, 978 1 4472 7268 7
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... thousand people would attend, but in the event a hundred thousand came to hear bands including X-Ray Spex, the Clash and Steel Pulse. It all kicked off with a march from Trafalgar Square through the East End to Victoria Park, led by giant papier-mâché models of Adolf Hitler and the National Front’s Martin Webster. The route passed Brick Lane, scene of ...

Medes and Persians

Paul Foot: The Government’s Favourite Accountants, 2 November 2000

... Edwina Currie. At the time of the Wessex computer scandal, he said, Mrs Currie’s husband Ray and his brother Brian were senior executives at Arthur Andersen. Mrs Currie was incensed by this reference, and complained of misuse of Parliamentary privilege. When I asked her whether the Secretary of State had given a misleading reply very much to the ...

Got to go make that dollar

Alex Abramovich: Otis Redding, 3 January 2019

Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life 
by Jonathan Gould.
Crown, 544 pp., £12.99, May 2018, 978 0 307 45395 2
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... and joined a group called Pat T. Cake and His Mighty Panthers. Soul music was coming into its own. Ray Charles was recording for Atlantic Records; Sam Cooke had left the Soul Stirrers; James Brown was touring with his Famous Flames. But Otis Redding wasn’t a soul singer yet. Billed as Otis ‘Rockin’ Redding or ‘Rockhouse Redding’, he sang rock ...

Crusoe was a gentleman

John Sutherland, 1 July 1982

The Gentleman in Trollope: Individuality and Moral Conduct 
by Shirley Letwin.
Macmillan, 303 pp., £15, May 1982, 0 333 31209 0
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The Idea of the Gentleman in the Victorian Novel 
by Robin Gilmour.
Allen and Unwin, 208 pp., £10, October 1981, 0 04 800005 1
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... lesser Thackeray’ – Trollope. He refines an argument originally put forward by Gordon Ray: that Thackeray’s great project in fiction was to ‘redefine’ the gentlemanly ideal for a middle-class Victorian ethos. Historically, Gilmour sees the Victorian preoccupation with gentlemanliness (and its derivative, ‘manliness’) as signalling the ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Bennett’s Dissection, 1 January 2009

... Red Butler, who reported it as having been said by Randolph Turpin after his defeat by Sugar Ray Robinson. How my old lady came to know this is a mystery, and how Tom comes to know it, too, as I’m sure boxing isn’t his thing. 22 January. I’m reading George Steiner’s My Unwritten Books, a series of chapters, some more autobiographical than ...

Burning Witches

Michael Rogin, 4 September 1997

Raymond Chandler: A Biography 
by Tom Hiney.
Chatto, 310 pp., £16.99, May 1997, 0 7011 6310 0
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Raymond Chandler Speaking 
edited by Dorothy Gardiner and Kathrine Sorley Walker.
California, 288 pp., £10.95, May 1997, 0 520 20835 8
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... and periodically subject to extreme physical abuse, the Marlowe of the novels, unlike Edward G. Robinson’s insurance investigator in Double Indemnity, is trapped in the dark underside of American life and never acquires the insurance man’s protective armour, his forceful, single-minded menace. But whereas in Woman in the Window Lang directed ...

Todd Almighty

Peter Medawar, 16 February 1984

A Time to Remember: The Autobiography of a Chemist 
by Alexander Todd.
Cambridge, 257 pp., £15, November 1983, 0 521 25593 7
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... of anthocyanins (the red and blue colouring matters of flowers) under the brilliant Professor Robinson, a professorial Fellow of Magdalen, where he was treated with undisguised contempt by his fellow Fellow C.S. Lewis, who regarded Robinson as a typical scientist and an object of almost automatic censure. Todd himself ...

At the Centre Pompidou

Jeremy Harding: Beat Generation, 8 September 2016

... Ginsberg had sex with him – was already living outside San Francisco with his wife, Carolyn Robinson. In 1955 Rexroth presided over a famous poetry reading at the Six Gallery in San Francisco. Ginsberg read the first section of Howl; two younger poets, Michael McClure (early twenties) and Gary Snyder (mid-twenties), read on the same night. So did Lew ...

My son has been poisoned!

David Bromwich: Cold War movies, 26 January 2012

An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War 
by J. Hoberman.
New Press, 383 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 1 59558 005 4
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... Meredith, Groucho Marx, Vincente Minnelli, Gregory Peck, Vincent Price, Robert Ryan, Edward G. Robinson, Donna Reed, Nicholas Ray, Robert Siodmak, Frank Sinatra, Sylvia Sidney, Claire Trevor, Franchot Tone, Walter Wanger, Keenan Wynn, William Wyler, Orson Welles, Billy Wilder, Jerry Wald and Robert Young. Ronald ...

I’m not an actress

Michael Newton: Ava Gardner, 7 September 2006

Ava Gardner 
by Lee Server.
Bloomsbury, 551 pp., £20, April 2006, 0 7475 6547 3
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... always making icons of her: all those publicity stills and bathing-beauty snaps, a portrait by Man Ray for Pandora (1951), the ridiculously overblown statue for the graveside scene in The Barefoot Contessa (it ended up in Frank Sinatra’s garden until one of his later wives made him throw it out). Even though her appetites were decidedly her own and even ...

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