Customer Reviews


371 Reviews
5 star:
 (169)
4 star:
 (90)
3 star:
 (55)
2 star:
 (29)
1 star:
 (28)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


77 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, Poignant
I downloaded Mr. Langella's memoir on Audible so had the immense pleasure of hearing him read his own words. Growing up in NY in the 60s and 70s I was treated to a Broadway show on every birthday and adored Frank Langella in Dracula on my 17th. I was eager to learn more about him and now I have, but oh how much more I've received from this exquisite, wry, utterly...
Published on March 29, 2012 by AudreyLM

versus
31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Distasteful
I have always admired Frank Langella and his accomplishments. After reading this book I honestly dislike the person who wrote it. Bottom line, after reading the 2 and 1 star reviews I can say that I totally agree with them . He certainly appears to have alot of negative energy and I would not want to visit that energy again.
Published on May 8, 2012 by Cheryl


‹ Previous | 1 238 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

77 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, Poignant, March 29, 2012
By 
AudreyLM (Brookline, VT) - See all my reviews
I downloaded Mr. Langella's memoir on Audible so had the immense pleasure of hearing him read his own words. Growing up in NY in the 60s and 70s I was treated to a Broadway show on every birthday and adored Frank Langella in Dracula on my 17th. I was eager to learn more about him and now I have, but oh how much more I've received from this exquisite, wry, utterly revealing look at so many legendary actors, many at the sometimes tragic ends of their lives. Among my favorites are his reminiscences of Raul Julia (Two Gentlemen from Verona was another birthday treat) and Abe Hirschfeld still hard at work at age 99 (who once so kindly wrote back to me explaining that Nina was his "red-haired daughter" in response to my query at age 12). It brought back Sunday mornings fighting over who got to read Section Two of the Times first. Mr. Langella is honest, sometimes brutally, about these individuals and about himself, keenly insightful and ultimately deeply compassionate. This book is a brilliant historical document of New York theater in the 20th century, and much more. I had to pause often as I listened to add names to the list of people to whom I will send this book, and the list continues to grow.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


94 of 108 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Stories of Legends, March 27, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women As I Knew Them (Kindle Edition)
I bought this book this morning and inhaled it in two sittings. It's a fascinating read provided by a good solid writer.

I do not read autobiographies. Hell, age has taught me that history is written by gossips. And autobiographies are read through rose-colored glasses and written with hubristically hued pens. But Langella's title intrigued me. He hooked me with his preface. We experience his stories through his eyes but not from his perspective. He is the pupil - not the reader. I don't know more about Langella than I did before I read his remembrances. I've learned about his mentors. He doesn't mention them as much as he dissects them. He masterfully creates a mosaic of moving memories. His subjects are the stuffs of legends. There is a reason their names are the marques of his chapters. When I finished the book I felt entertained yet strangely saddened. Many of these names have faded and will soon be forgotten. It's good to have them set into a worthy work.

Langella's bio suggests this is his foray into a career evolution. Good. The man can write. I look forward to my next read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


58 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A splendid surprise, April 7, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I decided to purchase this book after reading Frank Langella's touching portrait of Rita Hayworth which was excerpted in Newsweek. What a splendid surprise. Langella, 74, a star of stage and screen for 40 years, writes about 66 celebrities he has known.

At first, they don't seem to be arranged in any particular order, but Langella points out in the preface that they appear according to the date they died. The pieces range from two pages to 16 pages (Liz Taylor). Most are 4-5 pages.

Many of the pieces are poignant and sad. Much of the sadness comes from people thinking they're still stars when their time has passed. Langella is perceptive, sensitive and honest. Langella is a fine writer, one who can paint a picture and turn a phrase. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Here are some of his observations of famous people he has known:

Lee Strasberg: Cruel and rather ridiculous demigod; arrogant and insufferable.

Rita Hayworth: One of God's lost souls; She is the single most tragic example of how far from the real person an image can be; From the moment I met her, she haunted my imagination.

Tony Perkins: A book with such a beautiful cover on whose pages were most likely written crippling and indelible words of shame and guilt.

Dinah Shore: An extraordinary example of what a woman can accomplish without a man and still retain her femininity; a person of soft Southern demeanor, full of integrity and honest curiosity.

Jackie Kennedy Onassis: Not shy but canny; skilled in the art of mystery and allure; someone for whom money was an aphrodisiac.

Raul Julia: Defined real masculinity.

Ida Lupino: Needed to be loved and nurtured.

Robert Mitchum: Epitome of a macho movie star; hard-drinking, drug-taking and a womanizer.

Roddy McDowell: Impossible to dislike.

Loretta Young: Radiated the aura of a movie star almost more than anyone I ever met; valued artifice and religion more than the love and comfort of her own child.

Anthony Quinn: His aura was sour and his sense of entitlement was prevalent.

Anne Bancroft: Just about impossible to please; consumed by galloping narcissism that often undermined her talents.

Charlton Heston: Had about as much sex appeal as a railroad tie and about as humorless as a CAT scan.

Paul Newman: Male perfection; gave everything he had to every role; physically perfect but emotionally vacant; the center of every universe.

Dominick Dunne: On his death bed, he was unable to speak the truth to a son who was sitting 20 feet away; instead he preferred to look at a mock-up of a new book and discuss possible profits that he would never see.

Jill Clayburgh: Her funny, fun-loving face, a ready smile and intelligence made her a spectacular and sexy package.

Liz Taylor: Exceptionally certain of herself; nothing modest about her; She had a divine arrogance and would not take "No" for an answer.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Distasteful, May 8, 2012
By 
Cheryl (United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women As I Knew Them (Kindle Edition)
I have always admired Frank Langella and his accomplishments. After reading this book I honestly dislike the person who wrote it. Bottom line, after reading the 2 and 1 star reviews I can say that I totally agree with them . He certainly appears to have alot of negative energy and I would not want to visit that energy again.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


64 of 79 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars not my kind of guy, April 21, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women As I Knew Them (Kindle Edition)
If you call yourself a friend of Frank Langella, try to outlive him so he can't write about you posthumously. Everyone he writes about comes off pathetic and/or emotionally or morally crippled. He himself is no prize---a boy toy for famous older women, even after he's no longer a boy.

So, did I hate the book? No. Reading it was akin to sitting in an audience and being unable to take your eyes off the villain who is delivering a flawless performance. His prose is intelligent and lean, even elegant at times, and he delivers his stories with hook, line, and sinker. The author is just not someone I'd choose to spend time with.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Says as much about Langella as it does his subjects, October 17, 2012
Langella's actor/theatre cronies and friends among the 1% (with very few exceptions) were self-centered narcissists, according to this tell-all. No surprise, as this seems to be the typical personality type of many in this business. But by the end of the book, it was pretty obvious that Langella loved/hated them because he was just like them. A few amusing stories sprinkled in, but mostly a slog through the aging vanity of those who, when not on stage, were either bores or obnoxious a**holes.

Most telling - his dismissal of Paul Newman's talent, to quote: "(he) wanted, I believe, to be thought of as a great actor. He wasn't." and "As beautiful as he was, he personally had very little sex appeal." Sounds like the musing of someone who is unable to disguise his jealousy.

Langella should have waited until after his own death to publish this one. Almost too depressing to finish.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a good feeling., April 9, 2012
By 
P Flynn (lansing, mi USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
When I finished this book and put it aside, I didn't have a good feeling and I felt bad for even having read it. Thankfully most of the people in the book are dead and don't have to suffer the public humiliation, I assume they thought he was a friend and they could trust him. Mr Langella comes across as pushy, snoopy, opening doors, looking throught people's things and watching them covertly. He refers to the women in his life by all kinds of titles, cohabiters, roommates, a woman I was living with, and wife and he is constantly ending relationships. I think Colleen Dewhurst had him pegged from the start.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed., July 14, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I got caught up in the hype of a favorable review and ordered the book from Amazon. I was quite eager to start reading it but when I did I found the short chapters to be repetitious and boring. There are a few laughs (the Loretta Young anecdote is great) and some delicious ironies but how can the author have such a detailed description of what someone was wearing 50 years ago if he didn't take notes after every meeting or didn't have pictures? Obviously he couldn't and what he purports to be intimate moments with celebrities is obviously a reconstruction based on very old memories colored by personal bias' and afterthoughts. And speaking of pictures the lack of pictures is very disappointing too.

If it is true that all actors are ego-centric it is no wonder that the "greats" as described by the author seem very small to me. Petty, vain, with not much to recommend them to the world, Langella skewers some and lionizes others but all the time inserting himself into the narrative in the first person instead of merely as an observer. He belongs to their world as surely as Anthony Quinn, Elizabeth Taylor, Laurence Olivier and all the rest do.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, But...., April 10, 2012
I love Frank Langella's work. I've been watching him in for years and enjoying almost every thing I've ever seen him in. I've rarely been disappointed even watching the films he calls "crap" in this book. He has a habit of taking trash and turning it into something worth watching and when he does something worthy of him? He's amazing, and of course there's the unmistakable voice. Unforgettable. I could cheerfully listen to the man read a grocery list and probably enjoy it.

When I head he'd written a memoir I thought. "Okay, finally I'll get to know the person behind the actor." But that's not what happened with this book. I got his viewpoint all right. I got to know who he loved, who he dislikes, to whom he remains indifferent. But I got to know very little about Frank Langella, the man, and despite the fact that I enjoyed the read, and the viewpoints, at the end of the book I was left feeling a bit flat.

I'm hoping he does write another book. But if he does? I want to hear more about HIM and less about he's met. As name dropping tomes this one is amusing, I can almost hear his voice in my head talking reading it and of course his love of his profession comes shining through, but at the end I knew practically nothing more about the writer and the man than I could have gleaned from reading a few well chosen interviews over the course of his career and that's kind of sad because I think, just from what I've read here that Frank Langella has likely led one h-ll of a life on his own. Gee, I'd really love to hear more about it and HIM sometime. This book I read and I enjoyed, but I'm still waiting on a real auto bio from Frank Langella....

Oh and just in case the guy ever reads his reviews. On one point I'm afraid must firmly disagree. Roddy McDowall was both an excellent actor and an excellent photographer. To suggest otherwise is just not giving the man his due. His humble opinion, and I suppose Langella is entitled having known the man, but when I read that chapter I was like "What?" because I just couldn't believe that he'd even wrote it.

McDowall did his fair share of crap, took plenty of paycheck jobs over the years (So for that matter has Langella. Or did I perchance miss the dramatic relevance of him playing Skeletor?) but when he was in something good he was excellent and his acting often transcended the bad work despite it. His work in How Green My Valley, Lassie, Cleopatra, It, Hell House, Planet of the Apes, Fright Night, just to name a few of the well known roles that he did so well more than proclaim him a very fine actor indeed. McDowall, he could make you laugh, make you cry, or scare you to death with a smile. He was the real deal, an actor's actor, and from all accounts a genuinely nice human being besides.

He was also a very good photographer and he took his work in that field very seriously indeed, and was actually acclaimed for his work on several occasions. I personally love his shots of Elizabeth Taylor. He had a way of catching her at her most human moments, catching her real beauty, showing off more of her real personality, not focusing so much that of the Hollywood star that I always found quite touching. I have seen all his photo books and looking through them totally inspired me. I think he was quite good at it actually.

As much as I like Langella and his body of work? I would not honestly put him before McDowall in terms of talent, sorry. Langella is talking out his um hat, on that one. Langella is a long time favorite, and justifiably so, but no way...
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Giant Ego Looks Down on People He Knew, July 23, 2012
Langella's huge ego gets in the way of this guarded book, which tells stories about dead famous people he supposedly knew. He rarely gives enough details in any story to make it interesting and uses much of it to look down upon names much bigger than his. He is downright mean at times. How he thinks he's greater than Paul Newman and Charlton Heston we'll never know, but he says they can't act (despite their Academy Awards).

There are almost no self-revelations here, carefully preserving Langella's privacy so we never know most of the "companions" that he mentions in the stories (though he does claim to conquer Elizabeth Taylor in a cringe-inducing chapter). He isn't afraid to repeat rumors but there is little salacious here--it's most dull drive-by encounters with celebrities. Marilyn Monroe? He saw her get out of a car. John F. Kennedy? He was at a luncheon with the president and said two sentences to him. Princess Diana? Um...he never actually knew her, but that doesn't stop him from writing a chapter about her!

There are a few interesting tidbits but it's so poorly written (those who say it's well written must like theatrical Shakespeare-style language), with walls up to make sure Langella doesn't reveal too much of himself, that it ends up being a trifle. It's not really a memoir but more a chance for him to make himself look good by associating himself with those who are much more famous or interesting than he is.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 238 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.