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Fascinating insight into a complex character
on 11 June 2013
David Niven was the quintessential Hollywood Englishman. He never became a U.S. citizen and always maintained his Anglo Saxon mannerisms and diction which were to become his trademark.
Graham Lord has written a good biography of "Niv" here and its certainly very entertaining. I can feel the heavy hand of David Niven Jr's influence in certain sections of the book which do read as if Mr Lord was given firm instruction as to what to write. Never the less, it's a thoroughly enjoyable romp through Hollywood's golden age when the doors to stardom were perhaps charmed open a little more easily and the silver screen was magically aloof. Niv's friendships with Errol Flynn, Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers etc make interesting reading and one cannot have anything but respect for his wartime service in WWII which saw him finish up as a Lt. Colonel with the Phantom squadron.
There is a often used quote that Niv's best ever role was "playing David Niven", which to some extent comes through in this book. His screen and public persona was largely a heavily romanticised version of his real self, which hid a lot of insecurity, tragedy and a loveless relationship with his second wife "Hjordis". Rita Hayworth put it very well when she said "Why is he married to the one woman in the world who cannot stand him?".
Niv was that heady mix of professional success and personal unhappiness. Perhaps he's always destined to be something of an enigma, but I would recommend that you supplement your knowledge with his own books "The Moons a balloon" and "Bring on the empty horses", which give you the fun side of his recollections.