Sunday, 3 July 2011

Library Books July 2011

Sid James Cockney Rebel by Robert Ross iSBN 978 1 906779 35 1

Sid James is usually regarded as one of those strange (is it only British) Phenomena, an actor who played the same character time after time. You knew what to expect with Sid James.

James Robertson Justice, Terry Thomas, Kenneth Williams, Sean Connery - the line between acting and just being the persona they had adopted was far from clear.

Perhaps surprisingly given the number of films he was in, as well as plentiful TV and the unforgettable radio of Hancocks Half Hour - I believe this is only the second biography of Sid. It scores heavily over the previous attempt in that it has a lot more information and reminiscences from friends and colleagues. There is an obvious and undenied element of hero worship on the part of the author - but that works well in capturing the appeal of Sid James. It is interesting to note how much Sid resisted becoming a top of the bill star - and how he was concerned about his image and keen to see it evolve.

Paintings that changed the world by Klaus Reichold and Bernhard Graf ISBN 3-7913-1983-3
The first thing I liked about this book was that the introduction starts by saying "Of course, no painting really changed the world !"  But it works very well as an overview of different paintings from cave painting from over 17,000 years ago to Andy Warhol in the 1960's.  A page of text and often a few other relevant pictures offer context and explanation for each of the main pictures.  I am always surprised about how small many original artworks are, quite often, no more than 60cm by 40cm.

Do you think that's wise - The life of John Le Mesurier by Graham McCann
ISBN 978-1 84513 583 6

A very warm and well written book. John Le Merurier is probably best know for playing Sgt Wilson in Dad's Army, but also memorable for host of films where you remembered he'd been in them, even though he might have been on screen for just a  few minutes.   As self-described jobbing actor, Le Mesurier was more than capable of taking on more challenging roles, which sometimes came his way.  The book is excellent in dealing with his complicated relationships with Hattie Jacques and Tony Hancock. The only error I spotted was the claim Hancock used teleprompters for the HHH episode the lift - when that was recorded before the car accident that that led to Hancock using such machines.

My life in Comedy - Nicholas Parsons ISBN 9781845966218

Nicholas Parsons has already written an autobiography - so this book

Nicholas started as a straight actor but has had a career that has covered:
straight man, game show host, west end stage, cabaret, film and radio.

This book has anecdote's about lots of famous people he has worked with over the years,
rarely gushing and not afraid to be critical of some people !

the chapters on his role as a straight man and as chair of just a minute were interesting
as well as his reflections on comedians. His insight into the early days of TV and post war films
were good too.

The elephant to Hollywood - Michael Caine - the Autobiography ISBN 978-1-444-70003-9

A very chatty style - a rags to riches story and a remarkable 50 year career, he must be doing something right. 

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