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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, 3 Feb 2005
This review is from: Blow Up... and Other Exaggerations: The Autobiography of David Hemmings (Hardcover)
This was an excellent read.
Hemmings is open and honest about his career, his sad relationship with his father, and of course the women in his life.
He had a great sense of humour, and comes across as having been a real 'down to earth' type of bloke.
He died suddenly in 2003 shortly before the book was completed, but it leaves you feeling that you really knew him.
Read it!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book written by an excellent actor, 20 Mar 2005
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This review is from: Blow Up... and Other Exaggerations: The Autobiography of David Hemmings (Hardcover)
I was fortunate enough to work for David Hemmings for a couple of years at Hemdale in the late 60's where I was a Girl Friday so I found this book very poignant and an incredible insight into someone I knew very many years ago. I thought he was honest and frank and it was certainly obvious that his father had a pretty negative impact on his early years (when I met Hemmings Senior in 1968 he appeared to be very proud of his son). I enjoyed the book overall and think it's incredibly sad that in the past few years three most brilliant actors have died (Oliver Reed and Richard Harris) before their time.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life lived to the full, 10 May 2007
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This review is from: Blow Up... and Other Exaggerations: The Autobiography of David Hemmings (Hardcover)
Unlike so many of today's 'stars', Hemmings never takes himself or acting too seriously - yet he was a true star. This book is full of amusing tales from his long career, from his escapades in a northern boarding house with Andrew Ray, through to a remarkably funny incident with Jean Simmons. Certainly, Hemmings is a man of contradictions - but who isn't?

Strongly recommended.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressed by the book but not by the man..., 9 Aug 2005
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David T Claydon (Sale, Cheshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Blow Up... and Other Exaggerations: The Autobiography of David Hemmings (Hardcover)
David Hemmings first became known in cinema for his role as the photographer in Blow-Up who cannot separate fantasy from reality. His autobiography, published after his death in December 2003, suggests that the man himself was similarly afflicted.

I have probably only read half a dozen books from start to finish in the last decade. I find it difficult to remain focussed long enough to last the whole journey from cover to cover. This was never a problem with Hemmings' memoirs which are very well written and recounts the busy and varied life of a seemingly self-centred and contradictory man.

I was attracted to this book after seeing many of his films and being aware of the diversity of his professional life; acclaimed opera singer as a child and a body of film work that included appearances both in British quota quickies and international productions before moving into directing and producing films in Australia and then a long spell as a director in the mediocre American television market.

Blow-Up and Other Exaggerations is without doubt stronger in its first half, a witty and fascinating account of his early life and experiences. The remainder of the book, although still interesting, starts to resemble a series of diary entries on his film career; 'I did this, then I did this, then I did that...'

It's as if another author is writing this section of the book and the editor acknowledges that the book was almost but not fully completed at the time of Hemmings' death. It would not surprise me if Hemmings was some way short of completing his autobiography as this would account for large sections being written in a different style. Indeed the final stages of the book relating to the revival of his acting career after his appearance in Gladiator are carelessly written and the whole period is covered much too quickly.

Away from the composition of his autobiography, Hemmings appears to have been contradictory and somewhat deluded.

He preaches the 'golden rule that one treats every single other person on the set - cast and crew - with the same degree of respect' yet he freely admits to trying it on with, and offending, co-star, Prunella Ransome, by shoving his tongue down her mouth during a scripted kiss in Alfred the Great.

He talks at length about his relationship with his father and constantly attacks the lack of affection and encouragement he received from him. If his description of his father is in any way accurate, he certainly appears to have been a jealous and unfeeling man whose resentful attitude stemmed from his son's early success as a singer after he stopped performing with his father in pubs and pursued an operatic career.

Although he provides such a detailed attack of his father, Hemmings never fully acknowledges his own failings in this department. He skims over details like the abandonment of his first wife and daughter whom he virtually disregarded. He talks about his numerous affairs as though he is some sort of lovable rogue who never understood the pain he must have inflicted on others, particularly Gayle Hunnicutt, his second wife, whom Hemmings cheated on just a few months after they were married.

Hemmings' excuse for his behaviour is the astonishing claim that he 'simply never had any choice; and that's the truth' and given the right romantic setting 'there was absolutely no option.'

He would have been well advised to keep to himself the details of his meeting with the 16 year old Tessa Dahl (he was 32 at the time) and his 'straying hands'.

As already mentioned Hemmings does seem to be viewing his life through rose-tinted glasses. Maybe he was telling the truth when he, never really more than a minor celebrity, claimed that a megastar like Steve McQueen agreed to be the usher at his wedding but I do find that difficult to believe.

However Hemmings is definitely kidding himself when he lists his achievements in Australia as an actor and particularly a director. Maybe he felt that his work over there was sufficiently obscure that no one would be able to contradict him but having seen Harlequin and particularly The Survivor (which he claims has 'extraordinary qualities') it was clear that Hemmings' career was in serious decline.

Perhaps this is all due to having bad judgement. He praises poor films like The Survivor, The Charge of the Light Brigade and singles out the truly dreadful The Long Day's Dying as one of the finest films he ever made, whilst criticising some of his best films like Blow-Up and Deep Red.

Or maybe he just had a very poor memory as he claims to have directed dozens of episodes of Magnum PI (he actually directed only three) which formed part of the three hundred hours of episodic television he says he directed which is frankly impossible in the period of time he was working on them.

If so, this would also explain:

1) why he gets the names of established directors (Richard C Sarafian and Eric Till) wrong

2) why he describes a totally different climax to Unman, Wittering and Zigo from what actually happened in the film and

3) how he manages to misquote the most famous line from Blow-Up, his most famous film.

Despite this Hemmings' autobiography is nonetheless an enjoyable, witty but possibly unreliable account of a full but selfish and only intermittently successful life both personally and professionally.
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