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64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eagerly awaited paperback ...
I'm delighted that John Coldstream's biography of Dirk Bogarde is now out in paperback, which means that more readers will have access to this compelling story of one of the finest actors of the 20th century. And, to my own pleasure, the paperback makes it easy to read in bed or carry in a pack, removing all worry about damaging my cherished hardback version...
Published on 22 Aug. 2005 by Hargreaves

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written,but.....
As a life-long admirer of Dirk Bogarde (I even have,and love,"Lyrics for Lovers"!),I looked forward to reading this. It was well-written and meticulously researched. I know Bogarde embroidered some of his anecdotes but I found some of Coldstream's incessant doubting of various tales rather nit-picking. Am I the only reader to sense that this writer did not really like his...
Published on 12 Aug. 2012 by Jadi


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64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eagerly awaited paperback ..., 22 Aug. 2005
By 
Hargreaves (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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I'm delighted that John Coldstream's biography of Dirk Bogarde is now out in paperback, which means that more readers will have access to this compelling story of one of the finest actors of the 20th century. And, to my own pleasure, the paperback makes it easy to read in bed or carry in a pack, removing all worry about damaging my cherished hardback version.
Without reserve, I can say that this is one of the best biographies I have read in years and certainly the finest that will ever be written on Dirk Bogarde. From the minute one picks up this book, as beautiful in paperback as in hardback, one knows that it is not the usual star biography filled with gossip, written merely to pump up a star's image or to make a quick profit. Coldstream's engrossing look at the public and private lives of this icon of British film is impossible to put down. The first page quickly turns into 200 pages.
Coldstream has the rare perspective of friend and one who worked with Bogarde, which brings a special understanding and appreciation of the private Bogarde to this biography. Yet, unlike writers who set out to prove theories, Coldstream's balanced, extensively researched approach is the ultimate tribute to Bogarde. The reward for readers is a compelling view, written with candour, insight, and affection.
Given unlimited access by Bogarde's family to private papers, photos, and rare home movies, Coldstream unfolds a life that holds us spellbound. He illuminates the early influences on Bogarde, his military years, journey from matinee idol to serious actor, second career as a writer, and knighthood in 1992, giving us behind-the-scenes looks at some of the biggest names and players in British film and Hollywood.
We are privy to Bogarde's thoughts on the Rank and Hollywood Studio systems, on acting, the rigours of filming, and his unaccredited revisions of inadequate scripts. We hear his usual candid, often affectionate comments on the famous people who graced his beautiful homes on any given weekend: Ingrid Bergman, Ava Gardner, Judy Garland, Charlotte Rampling; directors Cukor, Losey, and Visconti, to name a few. Bogarde knew them all. Equally fascinating are their thoughts on him, the private man and actor, in the countless interviews Coldstream conducted across the globe and the extensive papers and first-hand sources he examined in the course of his research.
But Coldstream gives us more than the glitter of Bogarde's career in film. There is Bogarde at his beloved farm in Provence, the stray pets he sheltered, his natural talent for writing and the evolution of his 15 best sellers and later years writing for the Daily Telegraph, to the dark days when illness overcame his partner Forwood and then stalked Bogarde. Coldstream does not shy away from addressing questions readers have had about the elusive Bogarde, no easy image to capture. A continuing question has been whether his 40-year relationship with agent and companion Tony Forward was a homosexual one, something Bogarde denied to his death in 1999. To Coldstream's great credit, he does not speculate but lays out what he finds and leaves it to the reader to make up his mind on this and other aspects that continue to swirl around this fascinating man.
The paperback version has retained the elegance of the hardback edition and its extensive chapter-by-chapter sources, appendices, and comprehensive index, including the wonderful endpaper drawing of Bogarde by Richard Cole, all of which reveal the taste and intelligence behind this effort. There are some 130 photos many never published, including Bogarde's own drawings. An added perk is a new cover photo of a younger, ever handsome Bogarde in his late 30s at the top of his game as reigning matinee idol, a throne he eagerly abdicated for more complex roles. A perfect choice, the photo reveals Bogarde's discerning intellect and inner discontent, which drove him to make such daring, independent career choices.
Coldstream has truly captured the spirit of Bogarde, the actor, writer and man, as well as the caustic wit yet kind and loyal friend. Few books leave one with the satisfaction of having spent time and money well. This is one of them.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Derk, Dirk, Derek", 21 Jun. 2010
By 
Nicholas Casley (Plymouth, Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dirk Bogarde: The authorised biography (Hardcover)
This is a review of the original hardback edition of 2004.

One immediately has reservations when it comes to `authorised' biographies: how much we are told is true and how much has been left out? But with John Coldstream's biography of Dirk Bogarde, I think we are on safe ground, if only because the general demeanour of the narrative is not by any means uncritical of its subject. In his introduction, Coldstream recognises that "Dirk was a writer whose entire oeuvre became a fiction, thanks in large part to his hyperactive imagination and his fantasies", that Bogarde sought to cover his tracks through chaff, camouflage, and a scorched-earth policy.

The prologue opens with Bogarde's quiet, painless, and sudden death in his flat in Cadogan Gardens and how his nurse of two years sensed Bogarde urge her not to try and resuscitate him. It is quite an odd and moving passage. What follows is then a chronological account of Bogarde's careers as actor and writer, for he is as detailed about Bogarde's later writing career as about his acting, although alas on both there are no detailed critiques provided. We learn how in his late teens Bogarde was taught art by a then little-known Graham Sutherland, and how he chatted about acting to a completely unknown Peter Ustinov. Tony Forwood does not appear until the start of chapter four, and even then, only offering to manage Bogarde. Forwood then disappears as Bogarde goes off to war

Coldstream's account, however, is in two parts, 'Derek' and then 'Dirk', denoting a decisive break around 1946 in Bogarde's outlook and persona. This was when he was demobilised at the ripe age of twenty-five. Coldstream notes how Bogarde wrote on a book's endpaper `Derk, Dirk, Derek' as if deciding what name would look better up in lights. It's at this point too that Forwood re-appears and never leaves.

As regards Bogarde's relationship with Tony Forwood, "In later years, at home and only in front of the most deeply trusted, Dirk would sometimes address Tony as `wifey'. It meant little: he had nicknames for everyone. It simply testified to the affection between them." Is Coldstream playing Dirk's game on his behalf here? It seems, if we are to believe Coldstream ambiguous account, that there never was a physical side to Bogarde's and Forwood's relationship. Even Gore Vidal called their relationship `un marriage blanc'

Throughout the biography, Coldstream concisely addresses most of Bogarde's films, although one would perhaps have wished for a more detailed analysis of some. But there is much insight on the major turning points in Bogarde's career. In the film `Victim', Bogarde himself reworked the controversial script, inserting the words "I stopped seeing him [Boy Barrett] because I wanted him." Coldstream pinpoints this as "the moment when the matinee idol donned a new cloak of seriousness; when `Peter Pan' grew up; when `Dorian Gray' allowed us with him to take a peep into the attic."

The book comes with endnotes and acknowledgements to all those who agreed to contribute. Useful appendices include details of his plays, films, TV appearances, his choice of `Desert Island Disc' records, and also quotations from others about Bogarde. A large number of well-chosen photographic plates adorn the book throughout.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Opening the lid, 8 Nov. 2004
By 
M. Grasar (Pinner, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dirk Bogarde: The authorised biography (Hardcover)
This is a most absorbing book of one of the greatest British Film actors. I found it absolutely fascinating to discover so much about Bogarde and from such excellent recorded sources. The author lays bare much of the gossip surrounding him and it adds to his mystique and attractiveness. john Coldstream clearly found the topic interesting and, fortunately, found the good and the bad and wrote about both. An excellent read.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read .... spellbinding view of Bogarde, 30 July 2005
By 
Hargreaves (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dirk Bogarde: The authorised biography (Hardcover)
This is one of the best biographies I've read in years and certainly the finest written on Dirk Bogarde. From the minute you pick up this beautiful book, you know that it is not the usual star biography filled with gossip, written merely to pump up a star's image or to make a quick profit. Coldstream's engrossing look at the public and private lives of this icon of British film is impossible to put down. The first page quickly turns into 200 pages.
Coldstream has the rare perspective of friend and one who worked with Bogarde, which brings a special understanding and appreciation of the private Bogarde to this biography. Yet, unlike writers who set out to prove theories, Coldstream's balanced, extensively researched approach is the ultimate tribute to Bogarde. The reward for readers is a compelling view, written with candour, insight, and affection.
Given unlimited access by Bogarde's family to private papers, photos, and rare home movies, Coldstream unfolds a life that holds us spellbound. He illuminates the early influences on Bogarde, his military years, acting days, career as a writer, and knighthood in 1992, giving us behind-the-scenes looks at some of the biggest names and players in British film and Hollywood.
We are privy to Bogarde's thoughts on the Rank and Hollywood Studio systems, on acting, the rigours of filming, and his unaccredited revisions of awful scripts. We hear his candid comments on the famous people who graced his beautiful homes on any given weekend: Ingrid Bergman, Ava Gardner, Judy Garland, Charlotte Rampling; directors Cukor, Losey, and Visconti, to name a few. Bogarde knew them all. Equally fascinating are their unvarnished thoughts on him, good and bad.
But Coldstream gives us more than glitter. There is Bogarde at his beloved farm in Provence, the stray pets he sheltered, his natural talent for writing and the evolution of his 15 best sellers, to the dark days when illness overcame Forwood and then stalked Bogarde. Coldstream does not shy away from addressing questions readers have had about the elusive Bogarde, no easy image to capture. A continuing question has been whether his 40-year relationship with agent and companion Tony Forward was a homosexual one, something Bogarde denied to his death in 1999. To Coldstream's great credit, he does not speculate but lays out what he finds and leaves it to the reader to make up his mind on this and other aspects that continue to swirl around this fascinating man.
This is also an elegantly done book of rich colours, fine paper, extensive appendices and index, which reveal the taste and intelligence behind this effort. There are some 130 photos many never published, including Bogarde's illustrations for his books, with a stunning front cover photo of the handsome Bogarde and one taken by Charlotte Rampling on the back cover.
Coldstream has truly captured the spirit of Bogarde, the actor, writer and man, as well as the caustic wit yet kind and loyal friend. Few books leave one with the satisfaction of having spent time and money well. This is one of them. And when it ends, we wish for more.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Biography, thoroughly researched, 12 Dec. 2004
By A Customer
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This review is from: Dirk Bogarde: The authorised biography (Hardcover)
A fascinating insight into Bogarde the boy and man, matinee idol and author. Coldstream's meticulous research, with extensive references, bibliography and index paints a sympathetic, but not flattering portrait. He sensibly observes that the true nature of Bogarde's relationship with Forewood can be known only to them, and hence is now un-knowable...and wisely he does not stand in judgement, as others have done. In general the work clips along at a fair pace..the only longueurs when some of Bogarde's letters are quoted at unneccessary length and would have benefited from editing - or I am unclear on the point Coldstream was making.
In sum a detailed and fascinating look at the life of an extraordinary man.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 6 Nov. 2010
This review is from: Dirk Bogarde: The authorised biography (Hardcover)
I have no idea what has happened/is happening with the paperback, as amazon still has it as a 'pre-order' FIVE years after it was supposed to be published! Anyway, I'm very happy with my hardback. The author has researched his subject thoroughly, and writes about his life and career with great sensitivity and fairness, never ignoring the flaws but always appreciating the virtues. This is a fine biography of one of Britain's most intriguing film stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Last Gasp, 26 Feb. 2009
John Coldstream extracts the very last detail known of Dirk Bogarde from the volumes of autobiography and of everyone still alive who came across him,including co-operative members of his family.A very fairminded portrait emerges with the amusing evidence of Bogarde's inconsistences both in his volumes of autobiography and in his obsessive letter writing.One's admiration grows for the self publicising of the product which was Dirk Bogarde. But the hero of this biography is not Dirk Bogarde,it is Tony Forwood, his beloved companion and manager who keeps Bogarde on his pinnacle of fame for over 50 years.A Fascinating read even if one is not familiar with his films.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written,but....., 12 Aug. 2012
By 
Jadi (Manchester) - See all my reviews
As a life-long admirer of Dirk Bogarde (I even have,and love,"Lyrics for Lovers"!),I looked forward to reading this. It was well-written and meticulously researched. I know Bogarde embroidered some of his anecdotes but I found some of Coldstream's incessant doubting of various tales rather nit-picking. Am I the only reader to sense that this writer did not really like his subject? For me,that spoiled the book somewhat.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warts and all, 16 Jan. 2010
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An excellent well balanced biography of a fascinating multi-talented man which also gives an insight into the personalities of some of the great names of the cinema.
Tony Foreward, that mysterious figure in the background of his books is revealed as what can only be described as a thoroughly decent man who helped Bogarde throughout his often troubled life
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Praise ! Superb !, 20 Feb. 2012
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The certain thing that comes to mind with this book is that the biographical history of the subject will never be bettered. There is so much brilliantly researched detailed in this huge tome (over 600 pages) that there cannot possibly be anything else to discover about Dirk Bogarde. So much praise has been displayed by other reviewers that there is little I can add other than it is such an absorbing read - so much so that I even found the large list of acknowledgements interesting. Other lists - of films , places. people etc will also be found very comprehensive in extremis. The actual chapters relating the life of Bogarde is well...just plain interesting - and I use that seemingly modest adjective for no other reason than loss of a word to garland the highest praise and pleasure this book gave to me. It is a wonderful work of literary art. I am sure Dirk would have approved!
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Dirk Bogarde: The authorised biography
Dirk Bogarde: The authorised biography by John Coldstream (Hardcover - 13 Sept. 2004)
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