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5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read
I bought this book as a present for my daughter-in-law who is into acting and anything to do with the theatre. She told me that she had thoroughly enjoyed learning about the Redgrave Dynasty and thought it a well written book that she recommended to anyone whether interested or not in the theatre.
Published 4 months ago by Xanadu

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Misleading title and error-strewn text
Although many other reviewers have pointed it out already, my annoyance at finding that it is indeed a book about Tony Richardson, with just a cursory look at the lives and work of the Redgraves,was such that I felt moved to add my own litany of complaint.

While the story of every single Richardson-directed or -produced play, film and television programme is...
Published 16 months ago by Sasha58


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Misleading title and error-strewn text, 29 Mar 2013
This review is from: The House of Redgrave: The Lives of a Theatrical Dynasty (Hardcover)
Although many other reviewers have pointed it out already, my annoyance at finding that it is indeed a book about Tony Richardson, with just a cursory look at the lives and work of the Redgraves,was such that I felt moved to add my own litany of complaint.

While the story of every single Richardson-directed or -produced play, film and television programme is given in exhaustive detail, the author doesn't even bother to tell us that THE BOSTONIANS was based on a novel by Henry James, never mind provide any description of the film's plot and themes. He also has totally misrepresented Vanessa Redgrave's role in BLOW-UP; either he never bothered to watch it, or he's forgotten that she wasn't one of the silly little girls who roll around on the floor of the photographer's studio, but a much more important character. The most comic error, however, as another reviewer noted, is the statement that poor Gail Benson was Jackie Onassis's half-sister.

Another irritating feature of the book is its awful punctuation. Someone must once have told the author that one always precedes a quotation with a comma, without explaining that the rule doesn't apply to short phrases, so we get literally hundreds of things like this:'remembered the shoot as, "a fantastic summer."'....'called the casting,"a monumental miscalculation."'
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The biography of Tony Richardson, 5 Aug 2012
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This review is from: The House of Redgrave: The Lives of a Theatrical Dynasty (Hardcover)
As the previous review states this is a full-blown biography of Tony Richardson - interesting in its own right, but not what it says on the tin. We hardly see Michael Redgrave after a brief first chapter on his family .... there is no mention of his great film successes like THE WAY TO THE STARS, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST or indeed THE BROWNING VERSION. No mention of the hit play he had in 1965 A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY with Ingrid Bergman, one of the first plays I saw, or the 2 plays I saw Vanessa in: DESIGN FOR LIVING and MADHOUSE IN GOA. For a volume supposedly about the Redgraves it has no list of their stage or film credits, essential I would think in a book like this.

It is certainly fascinating for anyone interested in British theatre and cinema since the '50s, with the emergence of the Royal Court and those early Osborne plays like LOOK BACK IN ANGER and THE ENTERTAINER and Richardson's first successful films like A TASTE OF HONEY. The huge success of TOM JONES in 1963 gave his company Woodfall Films unlimited funds for Richardson to indulge himself with films that nobody saw at the time or simply were not well-released, those 2 in France with Jeanne Moreau, MADEMOISELLE from Genet and THE SAILOR FROM GIBRALTAR by Marguerite Duras - both rare movies for a long time. Vanessa is brilliant in the latter, in a supporting role at that time her cinema career took off with MORGAN, BLOW-UP, CAMELOT, ISADORA etc. Her politics at this time are well covered too ... now that she is a revered elderly actress this may be a part of her past she does not want dwelled on now. But where are the Redgraves and their illustrious careers ? the author just wants to focus on the family's oddities and scandals, up to the deaths of Natasha, Lynn and Corin in 2009.

It would be useful if a biographer acquainted himself with the works of those he writes about. This is how he describes Vanessa's role in BLOW-UP: "Vanessa played one of two dolly birds cavorting in his photographer's studio. Although she was only on screen for 10 minutes, romping topless with Jane Birkin, it was enough for Hollywood to sit up and take notice. Her agent began getting calls".

Well this show he knows nothing about BLOW-UP and has not seen it, a cursory look at the synopsis of this still available and influential film would show her role is very different, and she had already appeared in MORGAN before it was released. So how on earth can anything else he says be taken seriously? and it was David Hemmings who named his son Nolan after the character he played in the LIGHT BRIGADE film.

I am now just regarding it as a trashy read, akin to a summer disposable book to amuse oneself with on holiday. As for the remaining Redgraves, I do not think they need worry about it too much. It is good though on Woodfall films and how Richardson got through all that money, spent too on his badly-received THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE in 1968, while still living the champagne lifestyle in the South of France, so it covers that mad time in the 60s when the Americans were financing (for a while) these bizarre loss-making English movies; but its certainly not a book about the Redgraves and their theatrical legacy.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 15 May 2014
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This review is from: The House of Redgrave: The Lives of a Theatrical Dynasty (Hardcover)
Glad I obtained this publication along with the other. Great story and writing. Recommended to many friends and family. Thanks
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read, 20 Mar 2014
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I bought this book as a present for my daughter-in-law who is into acting and anything to do with the theatre. She told me that she had thoroughly enjoyed learning about the Redgrave Dynasty and thought it a well written book that she recommended to anyone whether interested or not in the theatre.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not What it Says on the Tin., 21 July 2012
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This review is from: The House of Redgrave: The Lives of a Theatrical Dynasty (Hardcover)
I am afraid that the title of this book is misleading. It's not about the Redgrave "dynasty" (an absurd word). They're in it, of course, but it's really a biography of Tony Richardson. I don't think there'd be many takers for that, so the use of the Redgraves is a sharp bit of marketing, but really...Michael Redgrave barely gets a supporting part - his achievements and career are glossed over and even his death comes and goes without comment. Rachel Kempson does a bit better because she lived with Vanessa towards the end, and is buried in the same place as Lynn and Natasha. Vanessa is a brilliant actress, Corin was an intellectual (yeah, right, I'm remind of Forrest Gump's mother's comment - stupid is as stupid does), blah blah. Lynn was regarded in a less favourable light but did okay until that annoying erring husband/cancer stuff. The next generation, Natasha, Joely and the barely-mentioned Jemma get short shrift except Natasha, because she died. The book is poorly edited, and the biggest howler is that the first line is repeated on the dust jacket, with a difference in nine years between the date quoted!

So why four stars? Because it's a bloody good biography of Tony Richardson. The only problem is that it's a bit truncated because of the inclusion of all these bloody Redgraves. If you want to read a biography of Sir Michael, read Alan Strachan. If you want to read a biography of a fascinating, mercurial, manipulative driving force behind the English stage and film business in the late fifties and early sixties, look no further. And there's enough about Vanessa and Corin's WRP idiocy for anyone, as a side dish.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the worst book I've ever read, 4 Oct 2013
This review is from: The House of Redgrave: The Lives of a Theatrical Dynasty (Hardcover)
There are factual errors throughout this book, starting with the book cover (one example, the dustcover states that Vanessa Redgrave was born in 1928, some six years before her parents even met!) A child could have done better with a simple check of Wikipedia for dates and film roles. Luckily, I didn't buy this awful book, I borrowed it from my local library and the person who read it before me had started to pencil in corrections to all the factual errors and poor grammar. They gave up after a few chapters and I wasn't surprised as there are errors on virtually each page. This is simply the worst book I've ever read and it's shocking that it was even published in this state.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Delightful and Sexy Memoir, 10 Sep 2013
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S. Harris - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The House of Redgrave: The Lives of a Theatrical Dynasty (Hardcover)
I'll allow that perhaps this work might be mis-labelled. To those one- and two-star Amazon reviewers who have complained that this is really about Tony Richardson, a Redgrave by marriage only, I say Yes. Get over it already.

This is a sometimes-serious, sometimes-witty, frequently gossipy and always engaging memoir of a definitive period in British theatre and film-making. Because of the militancy of Vanessa and Corin, the last third of the book also becomes a valuable and rather personal reminder of the reckless insanity that was British Trotskyite politics in the late sixties and early seventies.

Certainly, any biographer who had set out to depict the Redgraves _without_ mentioning Richardson's incredible oeuvre -- 36 stage plays and 33 films if you include television -- would have had a hard time of it. Redgraves appeared in four of the plays and five of the movies. It's a virtue of this book, too, that it does not over-sell the talent. The blockbuster success of 'Tom Jones' is here. But here, too are calamities like the movie 'Red & Blue,' and the stage production of 'The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Any More' (which closed after only five nights at the Brooks Atkinson in New York). Here's the thumbs-down on R&B:

"Lindsay Anderson thought [Red & Blue] was 'unshowable.' UA yanked it after two or three days. The headline in Variety read, RANK ORGANISATION SINKS RED AND BLUE LIKE SUBMARINE'. It was never shown again."

Nor are these characters described here as warm and lovable. Far from it. Vanessa was widely accused of anti-semitism, burned in effigy by crowds shouting 'Arafat's whore' at the 1978 Oscar awards. Corin's exaggerated militancy made him, for a time, a figure of fun in the acting profession. Lynn's treatment of her ex-husband, while perhaps understandable in light of the fact that he had fathered a child with their daughter-in-law, was very harsh. Richardson himself is described as relentlessly manipulative. "Bitchy, sarcastic and ruthless" is Marianne Faithfull's three-word verdict. Tallulah Bankhead's attention-seeking antics verge on the disgusting. As for Gerry Healy, Gen. Sec. of the Workers Revolutionary Party, he comes across as an absolute snake, a hypocritical thug who ought to have been jailed.

Above all, this book gave me particular pleasure because it's sexy. In my opinion, a good memoir ought not to hold back on who was doing what to whom, and Tim Adler certainly delivers the goods, with knobs on. There was so much hanky-panky going on during the heyday of the English Stage Company that the Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square was known in the profession as the 'Royal Divorce Court.' Even its outwardly avuncular artistic director, George Devine, left his wife for the stage designer Jocelyn Herbert. Sir Michael the Redgrave paterfamilias, on the famous occasion when Olivier announced the birth of Vanessa on stage at the Old Vic, accepted the congratulations of the cast of 'Hamlet' and went off to bed with Edith Evans. And by the way, the suffering of the younger generations of Redgraves because of their parents' bad behaviour is not glossed over in these pages.

This is a book about an inter-related clan of talented, fun-loving, privileged and thoroughly flawed human beings. It's written with clarity, and exactly the right length. I loved it to death.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars alas no redgraves, 30 Oct 2012
This review is from: The House of Redgrave: The Lives of a Theatrical Dynasty (Hardcover)
As all reviewers point out, this is a book about Tony Richardson, his life, loves and broad sweep of talent that lit up the screen and theatre. As his peak he was a mighty force for change in theatre and film. The Redgraves - in this book - are a thin thread used to give this almost forgotten man additional gravitas. About the Redgrave dynasty it is not, and one can only imagine that the Redgrave lawyers prodded by the formidable and protective Vanessa attacked the original manuscript making drastic cuts. (His editor should have made some too. Or at least tidied up the muddled writing.)

Adler quotes the final words of Vanessa Redgrave's autobiography where she says 'We must all know the truth' to which he adds his own: 'Quite.' But this book is littered with gossip, rumour and half truths, as if these are, in fact, independently authenticated. One hopes libel lawyers are not thumb through it right now. One fact that Gale Benson, a feisty Sixties girl who was so brutally killed in Trinidad, was the half-sister of Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis would have given Gale's parents, Capt and Mrs Leonard Plugg a good laugh had they both been still alive. And, on page 278, Richardson's daughter Katherine makes her first and last appearance. For her there is no background nor mother.

Sadly there are few pictures in the book and none of them highlight Richardson's life or work. As for the Redgraves, maybe their dynasty feature in yet another book about them.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 7 Feb 2014
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Cuttings & paste job. I was hoping for new insights into Gerry Healey & the Workers' Revolutionary Party - but nothing here beyond what everyone knows already.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What a disappointment !, 2 Feb 2014
This review is from: The House of Redgrave: The Lives of a Theatrical Dynasty (Hardcover)
I wish I had read some of the reviews before purchasing this book. 3 chapters in I checked the title as I certainly didn't want a detailed chronicle of the life and work of Tony Richardson. Not only that, mistakes both factual and grammatical are so numerous as to be a constant irritation. An editor's red pen was desperately needed here - why wasn't it applied ?
Who is Tim Adler anyway. I've never read anything of his before and certainly shan't do again.
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The House of Redgrave: The Lives of a Theatrical Dynasty
The House of Redgrave: The Lives of a Theatrical Dynasty by Tim Adler (Hardcover - 12 July 2012)
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