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Alastair Sim Paperback – 28 Sep 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press (28 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752453726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752453729
  • Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 73,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Eric R. Glasby on 8 Dec 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I, like countless others, have been - since about 1950 - a lifelong fan of Alastair SIM and this long overdue in-depth Biography is expertly researched and produced.

With the help and memories of many notable people who worked with and were personally attached to Mr Sim, it is a warmly felt story with a degree of sadness and triumph.

The author pulls no punches in personal views and it is, overall, an honest and fine memorial to a great artist.
I only finished the book two days back and was sad that it ended.

The Index of Alastair's acting career in both films and on the stage and in Television is comprehensive.

What a great career this gentle man had and what pleasure he gave - and will continue to give to so many people.

Even tho he would decline to warm his fans by signing their bits of paper with his autograph they still loved him.

And we do have his films to treasure, with repeated viewings.

This is one Biography you should not miss.

Thanks so much, MARK SIMPSON, a beautiful job.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mr. T. Harvey on 30 Jan 2009
Format: Hardcover
It is interesting that the author, or more likely I guess, the publishers, felt that this account of the life of Alastair Sim required a sub-title: 'The star of Scrooge and the Belles of St Trinian's' as though, without this reminder of two of the actor's best known films, the reading public, or, at least, those under forty, would not know who he was.

And yet, during the 1950s, Sim was a very popular and much loved actor. This is the first biography to appear since his widow published her own memoir in the 1980s. I wish I could say this new book was worth waiting for, but for many reasons it is unsatisfactory.

To be fair, the author Mark Simpson had two problems to contend with: Sim guarded his privacy carefully and never gave interviews, so the amount of documentation available is small; and the fact that many of the actors, directors and producers who worked with Sim are no longer alive.

It is a competent account of Sim's life. Comments on films and plays are pithy, though in some cases, I would have liked rather more in-depth analysis. Simpson is also quite candid about Sim's limited acting range and his choice of roles in some poor films, though I suspect this might have been a deliberate ploy on Sim's part to make him stand out from his fellow actors. More information on James Bridie and his plays which formed such an important part of Alastair Sim's career would also have been helpul, particularly as Bridie is a forgotten playwright nowadays. The author touches on the reasons why Sim's film career declined after the 1950s, but again, I feel this subject could have been explored more fully.

The publisher's blurb informs us that the author spent ten years reseaching this biography and I am tempted to ask: what did he spend the ten years doing?
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By David K. Barnes on 12 July 2008
Format: Hardcover
Alastair Sim is one of my very favourite actors, one of those rare talents who only needs to turn up in a film for me to start smiling. Capable of great drama but more often hilarious comedy, Sim remains an inspiration to me.

Simpson's book is certainly better than any biography of Sim we're likely to get and it must be difficult to research and interact with the life of a man who refused all media attention, not giving interviews or autographs. However, this book reads like one of those hour-long retrospective documentaries you catch on Channel 4 or BBC2: a nice, fairly warm account of a comedian's life with lots of talking heads and a basic chronology of everything that happened in his life, but that ultimately lacks something. You never really feel as if you're getting to grips with Alastair Sim as a human being - you don't get inside the actor's head and feel his dreams and desires - and Simpson's basic prose style doesn't convince you that he's especially enthusiastic to write about the man (despite the 10 years of research) making for an informative but not especially entertaining read.

The book feels rushed: An Inspector Calls is barely discussed, despite being one of Sim's most celebrated roles, and Sim's declining health and eventual death are glossed over with no thought given as to what Sim must have made of his life and successes. I'm definitely glad this book was written as next to nothing is known of this great performer but Simpson's handling of the material is sorely lacking compared to such works as Graham McCann's biography of Frankie Howerd.

I'd rate it as a 7/10, though I give it an extra half star purely out of gratitude that Simpson attempted this book in the first place.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Moddey Dhoo on 2 Feb 2010
Format: Paperback
It is likely that most people today are familiar with Alastair Sim as the delightfully eccentric performer who brightens - indeed, dominates - many a classic British comedy of the 1950s, now to be enjoyed on television on the proverbial `wet Sunday afternoon'. This beautifully written book fleshes out an actor and director who achieved so much on the stage as well as on film, and gives as candid an insight as I would imagine possible into the background and domestic life of a very private man.

The ups and downs of Sim's career are clearly set out, his better and poorer films are identified (though this might be subject to one's opinion) and his human failings and virtues are honestly addressed. The question of his relationship with, and eventual marriage to, a girl whom he first met when he was 26 and she only 12 is discussed frankly but, as a fan of Sim's, I am pleased to say the reassurance offered by Simpson carries authority. Sim emerges from this literate, well-researched biography as an intelligent, principled, but occasionally distant person. I finished the book still believing that, when we see him in such wonderful movies as 'Green For Danger', 'School For Scoundrels' or 'The Green Man', we are seeing some part of the man himself behind the character he's playing.

All told, we are left with a well-rounded picture of Sim as a man and a theatrical professional.

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