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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon 15 November 2012
Christopher Gullo clearly had a lot of reference material at his disposal when he wrote this biography. Details of all of Cushing's performances on stage and screen, many of which I hadn't heard of, and interviews with many of the people he worked with can be found here. Sadly, he didn't get to grips with the task of writing an interesting book.

It starts with a well-balanced account of Cushing's background and family, impressive without being long-winded. His method thereafter is to work his way chronologically through Cushing's acting career. This consists mostly of overlong explanations of the plot of each work, sometimes with a note of how much Cushing was paid. A line or two of what each production was about would have done, rather than entire paragraphs that say nothing about Cushing. An interview with another actor, director or other film professional usually follows. Each one begins with the same question: 'What was it like working with Peter Cushing?' Not surprisingly, the answers are nearly all identical: he was a kind, gentle man, a true professional, etc. and there is invariably a reference to the white gloves he wore to prevent his hands being stained by nicotine. After a while, this becomes incredibly tedious. By the end of the book, I had learned very little about Peter Cushing.

The book also cries out for an editor. Much of the grammar is awful as is some of the spelling: 'Few drug addicts were rarely portrayed on stage' and 'Hammer turned its sites on Frankenstein' are two of the worst examples, while the word 'excellently' turns up more than once.

I would not advise anyone to refer to the book as a means of acquiring Cushing's best films on DVD either. I accept that tastes vary, but praise, for instance, for 'The Beast Must Die' and 'Dracula AD 1972', both dreadful films, is staggering.

There is some interesting material covering the later stages of Cushing's career and life, but even much of this has no relevance to the subject. David Hatton's reminiscences of a Spanish film he made with Cushing, for instance, are amusing but are largely about Hatton himself.

I suspect that the crux of the problem is that there is not much of interest to say about Cushing. He is best experienced through his work. He seems to have been a gentle and private man who left all his colour on stage and screen. 'In All Sincerity...' is hardly illuminating and is the worst biography I have read.
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