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Customer Review

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to find a Very Special Place for, 4 Mar. 2002
This review is from: A Life in Movies (Paperback)
There is only room for about 8 books in my bedside cabinet which is an uncomfortably small niche for nearly 3 decades of literary adventure. I had relegated Michael Powell's "A Life in Movies" to the shelf on the other side of the room but it' s becoming uncomfortably clear that reinstatement is a necessity in order to prevent cold feet from too many early morning trips across the floor.
I read it first when I was 21, now I'm 32 and every time I think of just a short dip into it again, I find myself dipping long enough to end up with prune-like, wrinkled fingers. This book is a joy. Michael Powell was by all accounts not an easy man to get on with but his writing has real joi de vivre, drawing you into a world of movies that sadly no longer exists. He is a cocky, confidant narrator with a gift for dialogue and in some cases, unnervingly, dispassionate observation. For those who love his films, it's a hugely rewarding experience to revisit the creation of some of the most evocative images in world cinema. The story of "I Know Where I'm Going" and his affectionate portraits of its stars, is as satisfying a piece of travel writing as autobiography or film history. His discussions with partner and screenwriter Emeric Pressburger are detailed with the same skilled storytelling instinct that the Archers films excelled in: he asks Pressburger why the girl in the story wants to go to the island of Kiloran and Pressburger replies with 'one of his mysterious smiles..."Let's make the film and find out"'.
Powell's honest description of his tangled love life (as he struggles to decide whether to marry the actress Deborah Kerr, or the woman who became his wife, Frankie) is disarmingly frank and unrepentant but it's a measure of the charm of his writing that you don't judge him for it, full as it is with loving praise for both women. It's this enthusiasm for people, places and communication through cinema that suffuses this book. It's a happy experience to be in the company of a generous raconteur who wants to share his passions with the world. When he talks of making Roger Livesey's "lovely, husky voice beloved all over the world" or of Frankie christening "I Know Where I'm Going" by singing the title song on a London bus and then disappearing, it's enough to make anyone feel that film making is the ultimate creative pleasure.
But here's an irony - no pictures in my paperback copy!
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Apr 2010 02:34:02 BDT
Jill, there were no pics in the hardcover edition, either! A sad omission. And as John Baxter remarked in his review of the original Heineman edition, "Difficult book to pick up, impossible to put down..."
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