35 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Schuyler V. Johnson
- Published on Amazon.com
Please permit me to straighten out a few allegations promulgated in this rather prurient (because it sells) book. One, B.L. was NOT an abusive man toward women (or anyone else)at all. One isolated incident do not a misogynist, or history of violence, make. One of his later relationships involved a hot-tempered lady who broke a champagne bottle over his head, so that rather belies his abuse with females...and no, he did not retaliate.
Also, another allegation, and one clearly designed to mislead the reader in addition to pumping up sales: B.L., at NO time, was EVER, in ANY way homosexual or bi-sexual...ever.
As to what his sons did or didn't do in a neighbor's pool, is another allegation and a rather cheap shot; even if it IS true or has ANY basis in fact, who among us has led a perfect childhood? Who among us has never behaved in a childish way when we were children?
This is tawdry writing at it's zenith, an unnecessary "factoid" thrown in for sensation rather than edification. If it is true, who cares? Why put it in? Does it MATTER what B.L.'s sons did when they were kids?
Ms. Buford has done some research, for what that is worth, but did not bother to either verify or confirm any of her allegations, so they must remain just that, allegations...however, the cat is already out of the bag and her inclusion of unsubstantiated "facts" helped the sale of her book, so she got what she wanted in the first place.
B.L. was a consummate actor, a loving, generous untamed man who changed careers in his mid forties from that of a trapeze artist in the circus to acting...and he took care of 17 of his circus friends for life after he began his acting career. Of course he had his faults; ALL of us do, but few of us have them the focus of a book slanted to sell no matter what, much as the tabloids do in the checkout line in the supermarket...
He made friends and enemies on the way, and carved a unique niche for himself in the most competitive profession in the world. His personal relationships were intense, close and very very strong; however, it must be noted again, that he was NOT homosexual OR bi-sexual; this is a craven, distasteful and rather cheap ploy on the part of Ms. Buford to spice up her book. Sex sells and scandal sells even better...and there isn't an author alive who doesn't want to make money, but many refrain from outright lies, libel and slander of someone they never met or knew personally.
As for B.L. fuming in his car over Shelley Winters and Brando, Winters was more likely to spend time "fuming", as she was the aggressive partner in that relationship, admitting in her own book how she resented him for wanting to be with his wife for the birth of one of their sons...
There was a book about Errol Flynn some years back that alleged he was not only bi-sexual (again, not true) but also a NAZI SPY.
The point is, anyone can say anything about a celebrity once they're dead.
He did not engage in violence with all his relationships and he did not have sex with men and he was not parodied in Bill Lancaster's movie "Bad News Bears"; he was light years away from Matthau's persona, and certainly never "gruff."
BUT: People believe exactly what they WANT to believe and some enjoy believing anything bad or off color about famous people because it makes their own lives a little exciting for a time...so, that is the truth, and it is up to those who read this book whether they choose to take it as gospel or merely a semi-informative read.
B.L. was a business genius; he OWNED his movies and formed a production company with Ben Hecht to retain control over all his work, and in addition to Hecht-Lancaster he also founded Norlan Productions, named for Norma, his wife.
He kept his mystery and movie star image all of his life and was a very generous, loving man with a great sense of humor.
So, read it with a grain of salt and remember, it is easy to play hard and fast with the truth when the subject is no longer alive to refute it.
The real B.L. can be seen in any one of his movies, and IMO, Sweet Smell of Success is his best work, alongside Atlantic City. Those who knew this fascinating man personally know the truth, and hopefully, people will remember him more for his art than for the smarmy words of someone wanting to make money off a true artist.
Those who can, do; those who can't write smutty biographies...