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VINE VOICEon February 28, 2008
Emmett James was born in 1972 in South London, where he grew up watching a lot of movies with his family at the local theater. He was seduced by the cinema, eventually studied acting, and moved to Hollywood in the early 90's to try to make it as an actor. He did make it, finally, becoming a successful working actor if not a household name, most significantly landing a small part in the biggest movie of all time, Titanic. James tells the story of his life in Admit One in chapters that are named after and loosely organized around movies--films that influenced him during the period described or whose plots mirrored his own experiences, or films he appeared in. But while the pictures he selects for each chapter heading provide a framework for James's book, it's not really about the movies.

Nor is Admit One, as the above summary might suggest, an insipid story about a boy who pursued and finally achieved his dream. The author is too acerbic to have written such a book. Here he is early on, for example, describing Croydon, the borough of London in which he grew up:

"The streets were lined with filth, the people were bitter and miserable and a fantastic night out meant a large kebab rather than the regular size, which of course went hand-in-hand proportionally with the amount you would subsequently vomit later that evening."

And again:

"Unfortunately, it was that type of town, inhabited by those types of people, living that type of crap life."

James's familial relationships meet with similar criticisms. His mother had a "permanent melancholy demeanor." His maternal grandparents were an overbearing couple whose home "was always rich with the smell of old people," a smell that "left a thick, pungent coating in the fibers of your clothes.... They were," he says, "much less benign in the days of my mother's childhood." Of his brother he writes:

"My older brother was a weaselly boy named Cymon (pronounced Simon, just spelled wanky to give him some added torment in school), and for as long as memory serves we have loathed one another."

It's unfortunate that the author's experiences weren't more positive--though this is not the sort of book that leaves you feeling sorry for him. On the other hand, it's quite refreshing to see such candor on the page.

Admit One is divided into two parts. The first concerns the author's childhood in England. It has universal appeal but will probably be enjoyed particularly by readers who grew up around the same time, and who will remember BMX bikes and Star Wars tie-in merchandise as fondly as does the author. In the second half James moves to America to make his way in Hollywood. This part of the book is less personal, yet it's interesting for its depiction of the life of a struggling actor. Also fascinating is the behind-the-scenes story of his work on Titanic: whatever you're thinking that might entail, you're wrong.

Coming away from the book I'm not entirely sure that I like the author. But that's a testament to his honesty. He's not only not afraid to look stupid, but he reveals some quite unflattering truths about himself--from an ill-conceived instance of, well, something approaching stalking (in tights!), to his willingness to participate in activities both legally and morally sketchy. (He's also due for a whomping from Steven Seagal, whom he sucker punches in an open letter at the beginning of the book.)

If nothing else, James is by no means a run-of-the-mill guy. Having been given this glimpse into his history and character, it will be interesting to watch his career unfold on screen.

-- Debra Hamel
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Emmett James's Admit One is an absolutely delightful read.

Emmett starts with his youth in Croydon, South London. Each chapter is wrapped in the context of a movie that in some way impacted his life. Thinking at once of all the ways in which this could become a too-cute and ultimately annoying trick, I was delighted when the book deviated immediately from the expected. When Emmett saw the first movie he used to frame a chapter, Disney's The Jungle Book, he was so young that he fell asleep within minutes, and saw only the beginning and end credits. Yet the experience of going to the movies with his family, and the effects it had on his mother and brother, profoundly affected him.

When I finished Admit One I was surprised to note that it was put out by a publisher I'd never heard of before. It had been such a fun read, so filled with quotable quotes, that I fully expected it to be an offering from a big-name group. Well, their loss. Emmett writes with a tone that can shift from wryly humorous to childlike delight, self-deprecation to sly jabs in an instant. I was hard put to keep from constantly laughing out loud and reading selections to everyone around me.

At a time when folks are getting burned out on tragic memoirs, Emmett takes both the good and the bad in his life and mines them for sharp, witty humor instead. It's exactly the breath of fresh air we need.
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on December 12, 2007
British actor Emmett James has written a hilarious memoir about breaking into the film industry after a lackluster South London childhood. Beneath his witty portrayal of starting out in a dingy room at a Los Angeles YMCA -- surviving by working in porn films and C-movies nobody has ever heard of (or seen) -- is a frank, honest voice. James doesn't hide the con artists, the sleaze and the hopefulness that much of the population in L.A. has toward getting their big break. And though he doesn't touch upon the bleakness he must have felt at times trying to get a real acting job, we sense it.... along with his passionate, unashamed love for cinema.
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on June 2, 2008
"If you have every truly loved a film, you will surely find yourself within these pages" is a caption, on the back of the book,that truly expresses the feelings that Emmett James writes with in this childhood to adult story of his life so far.

I went back in time with him at the beginning of each new chapter as he used a movie title to describe the content of each section. He is detailed in his writing about his childhood of family outings to the movie theater, where he went from falling asleep before the movie began to sitting through a whole movie. His love of movies spread from just going to the movies to wanting to be an actor. He doesn't get the support for his acting in England, so he decides to try making it in Hollywood. Emmett James gives a wide eye view of how hard it can be for those people trying to `make it' in Hollywood. He explores having to live in a YMCA, forge his travel papers to stay in the U.S., disguise himself to get in to an Academy Awards party, be characters he didn't like and knock on the door of a producer's house to try and get part. His break finally comes when he gets a small part in a BIG movie called "Titanic."

Even after finishing this book, I am unsure about how I feel about it. When I first started, Emmett James' candor and English slang usage about his life almost turned me off to the book. I slowly got use to his writing style and respected his ability to speak so openly about life. He did make me smile and laugh at his use of relating certain movie titles to different parts of his life. "Grease" reminds me of a special summer camp I went to that changed my life before going in to high school.

I am glad I finished the book. It definitely was an eye opening view in to the life of an actor and the extremes he had to go through to achieve a dream he had since childhood of being in the movies.

[...]
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on March 6, 2011
No need to rehash the story of the book as this has been done here.

As a Briton (British born for those who don't know) I enjoyed the beginning part of this book. The book seemed to change writing style once the author arrived in America.

I enjoyed the book but it didn't "grab" me and I wouldn't call it a page turner.

What amused me the most was the fact that it was written with American spellings (by a British born author) but the funny part was that they left in the British words that many Americans would not understand and that even the Kindle dictionary could not understand.

For example

Bristols (dictionary - a city in England) - true but in the plural form and about a woman it refers to a certain part of their anatomy :)

Tosser - not going there in a polite review but any English person will know this one! :)

So a decent read but I'm glad I didn't pay for it.
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on July 24, 2012
I enjoyed this fun and lighthearted book about boys at all ages. The main character tells us his vision of the world by what movie he placed at the time. When we are younger we think that everyone is watching us like in a movie and we want so much to do all the right things. Walk right, talk right, be cool and never ever make mistakes. Our young lives are like a movie, we play the cowboy or the princess and we are perfect. No lisp, no curly hair, no buck teeth and not the kid that is unpopular.
I enjoyed going back in time with this young man and being in the movies once again.
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on February 10, 2013
Long time ago we used to play Trivial Pursuit online and I always looked forward to questions about the movies. I had one friend who loved movies even more than I did, and I'll never forget what he said (and this was over 30 years ago!) ... "I was born with a silver screen in my mouth." Don't ya just LOVE it!
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on March 10, 2011
Admit One? First, I have to admit this...
I'm a buffoon. I read the first eleven (that's right I said eleven) chapters of Emmett James's book
Admit One: My Life in Film before I caught on to fact that the author is actually an actor (hence, the title). I got it right about the time he finished hunting down a well known director that was filming in England and headed off to America to make his way in life via the craft of actor.
Yep, I will repeat, I am a buffoon.
Up until that light bulb went off, I was enjoying the book, but not nearly as much. I thought it was about a writer that was writing his memoir & relating it to movies he'd seen. Sure, the name seemed familiar, but every writer tries to coin a name that reeks of best friend or someone famous comfort. I thought Emmett James was one of the lucky ones that came out with a great moniker or picked on up to sell his writing.
Wow, was I wrong. This guy was in Titanic, a porn & a soap opera that claims the love story of Luke & Laura. Not in that order of course, but you get the idea. He crashed Oscar parties pretending to be a director and convinced James Cameron to keep him on the set long after his bit part wrapped. This guy is an evil genius.
In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't have the full back story. I actually think it was more fun that way. Plus, I believe my review is far less tainted than those that were star struck from page one.
I give the book four stars. I think if I were from England, it might have been a five star review (humor is just a little different over there). His antics in the quest for fame are unbelievable; and it carries a good message. To paraphrase: life's success is in the journey. Do what you love. A list status isn't the grand prize...that comes from following your passion & enjoying the ride.
The only issues I had were as follows: I felt that he isn't very fond of his mother at all. He seemed to prefer his father. He also clearly hates his brother. None of those things should have bothered me, but they did. I thought it came across as a tad bitter. But, then again, those are his feelings. Can't change that.
It's a good read; and as promised, right now it's FREE for your Kindle on amazon.com!

Cheers! (that's British for until next time...I think)
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on January 3, 2013
A must read for any Film Buff. Its a look at the film Industry from the perspective of not only an insider, but a film lover. I usually don't like memoirs, but there is something about James' style that is entertaining and very likable. He talks about his ups and downs, and forays into what he considers to be the 'underbelly' of Hollywood, making for a quick, but very entertaining read.
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on August 5, 2014
Although this actor was new to me, I found the book interesting. I liked the way chapters were linked to films. I learned a lot about an actor's life and the way movies are made. There's just the right amount of humour in the book to help the pacing.
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