Friday, July 24, 2009

Richard Schickel's 5 best show-biz biographies

Richard Schickel is a film critic, documentary film maker and movie historian, who has written over 30 books, including Elia Kazan: A Biography.

A few years ago he named his five favorite show-biz biographies for the Wall Street Journal. One book on the list:
"A Life" by Elia Kazan (Knopf, 1988).

Common consent holds that this may be the greatest of all showbiz autobiographies and, for once, the conventional wisdom is correct. Kazan emerged from his fervent, apprentice years with the Group Theater determined to revolutionize American acting and theatrical writing by infusing it with greater realism. In the 1940s and '50s he did just that, in the process becoming our greatest stage director and one of our greatest movie directors. He was also a frenzied womanizer, a controversially engaged political figure and a man with passionate loves and hatreds for everyone he knew and worked with. All of that rambunctiously hangs out in this wounding, wounded and powerfully truthful and affecting book.
Read about another biography on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue