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Somebody [Kindle Edition]

Stefan Kanfer
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $11.84
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

As a movie actress Lucille Ball was, in her own words, “queen of the B-pluses.” But on the small screen she was a superstar–arguably the funniest and most enduring in the history of TV. In this exemplary biography, Stefan Kanfer explores the roots of Lucy’s genius and places it in the context of her conflicted and sometimes bitter personal life.

Ball of Fire gives us Lucy in all her contradictions. Here is the beauty who became a master of knock-down slapstick; the control freak whose comic alter ego thrived on chaos, the worshipful TV housewife whose real marriage ended in public disaster. Here, too, is an intimate view of the dawn of television and of the America that embraced it. Charming, informative, touching. and laugh-out-loud funny, this is the book Lucy’s fans have been waiting for.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This compulsively readable biography of the charismatic actor takes readers from Brando’s traumatic childhood through his glory days on Broadway and in Hollywood to his final years, which were marked by his struggle with weight and the travails of his children. Kanfer takes pains to reflect the events of the wider world at each stage of Brando’s life as well as the state of the movie business and Brando’s own ever-fluctuating interests, from conga drums to Tahiti to Native American rights. Where Kanfer excels is in his analysis of Brando’s contribution to the craft of acting; he is especially articulate about the revolutionary nature of Brando’s incendiary Broadway role in 1947 as Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, which created a sensation. Seven years later, Brando did it again in Hollywood, playing longshoreman Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront. Kanfer maintains that although Brando’s talent far outstripped his ambition, it was a bad contract that trapped him in a long string of inferior roles, although he also asserts that Brando’s work in a number of those films has long been undervalued and that his Academy Award–winning work in The Godfather should have come as no surprise. The pandemonium of his personal life—his compulsive womanizing and overeating, deep ambivalence about acting, and general self-destructiveness—is attributed to his treatment at the hands of a belittling, authoritarian father. This excellent biography is more even-handed than Peter Manso’s salacious  Brando: The Biography (1994) and offers a much more full-bodied treatment than Patricia Bosworth’s slim Marlon Brando (2002); Broadway credits and filmography included. --Joanne Wilkinson


“Well-researched and beautifully written, the book is as fascinating . . . as the subject himself.” —Los Angeles Times

“Miraculous. . . . A landmark in Brando studies.” —David Thomson

“[A] vivid chronicle. . . . The Marlon Brando story is a fascinating and tragic one, and Kanfer gives it the size and understanding necessary to provide an enthralling read.” —Peter Bogdanovich

“Stefan Kanfer strikes an original note by portraying him, albeit with great sensitivity and tact, as a man permanently teetering on the brink of madness–clearly part of his mesmeric screen presence.” —The Sunday Times (London)

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1246 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (October 28, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001JEGO88
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #845,010 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It could have been a contender... January 19, 2009
...but it's not. I saw Karl Malden on some interview on TV recently and he mentioned how Marlon called him a few times in the weeks or so before he died telling Karl how he'd been falling down lately and didn't know the reason. I nearly wept when I heard this: the great, powerful Brando, falling down as his body was failing him. But you won't find this tragic bit of information in the pages of SOMEBODY. There is a helluva lot you won't find in the pages of this book. If you want details, stick with the Manso book - even though the author of this one rather dismissively (and perhas a tad jealously) refers to it as a "doorstop of a book" because of its 1,000 plus pages and weighty size. He knocks it in other ways, too.

But for a subject like Brando you need weight (even if he, himself, didn't!) - and more pages. In Kanfer's quick read we get a page or two on certain Brando films, whereas in Manso's tome we get 20 or more pages per film. About the only thing SOMEBODY has going for it is coverage (albeit quick coverage) of the years after Manso's book was published which include Brando's death and some aftermath. But the Devil is in the details, and this book is not rich in detail. It ends up seeming like a boiled down, condensed, quick-read version of the Manso work; even moreso a linear accumulation of press clippings. Not much original homework was done on this one.

So - if you want a casual knowledge of Mr. Brando, this book is for you. If you want those devilish details, Manso's book is the one to read.

One further thought, since the book is entitled SOMEBODY, a better cover photo would have been of Brando as Terry Malloy at the moment he reflects on his failings in the famous cab scene with his brother from "On the Waterfront.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Somebody", The Tragedy Of An Actor March 12, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Have you ever wondered if acting is truly something that is learned, or is it just that, an act? The book "Somebody: The Reckless Life and Remarkable Career of Marlon Brando" answers alot of these questions. From his early childhood, till his death, this book does an excellent job of unpeeling the layers of Brando. Kanfer does quite a good job of delving into his psyche, exposing his strengths as well as his inability to connect on an emotional level. Brando had alot to speak about, this country, his causes, and at times his acting. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that wanted to know more about possibly the greatest, and most disturbed actor of our time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ESSENTIAL BROAD OVERVIEW January 5, 2012
This does not set out to be an expansive cover-all-bases Brando bio. Rather, it provides a broad overview of Brando's life and works and is a perfect companion to his autobiography (which annoyingly skimmed over a lot of stuff).

It is unfair to claim a book is worthless because it reprints old material. Brando has been covered by writers across the gamut for decades, and some of those accounts are important for an understanding of what people were thinking about the man when he was at his peak-- or not.

The author has a refreshing, irreverent style and his writing made me laugh out loud more than once.

Personally, I disagree with his dismissal of two films in particular-- 'The Ugly American' and 'The Missouri Breaks'. In the latter film, the scene with the open coffin is priceless and should be included in any Brando 'showreel'.

But Marlon was a divisive character in many ways so it's appropriate that his works contiunue to challenge opinion.

My only real complaint would be that not enough ink is spent on later films, such as 'The Freshman', a great little movie which surprised many fans when it emerged. Yet such treatment seems to be the way with every bio of an actor who seemingly peaked in the mid-20th Century.

A fun-filled, informative read which can be safely recommended to anyone interested in the unique work of Marlon Brando.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than a biography January 3, 2009
With "Somebody," Stefan Kanfer offers much more than a biography of America's greatest actor; it is also a tangential history of America working through one of its most artistically creative and socially challenging periods. Balancing relevant stories and astute observations that consistently avoid useless digression, this fine author gives context and clarity to the life of an extremely complex and gifted man. But as the unfolding of Brando's life reveals, time and again, talent is not necessarily synonymous with either success or peace of mind. Deeply wounded by unresolved issues involving an antagonistic father and alcoholic mother, Brando seems to have spent much of his life in a state of self-loathing. Frequent manifestations come in the forms of emotional abuse and a lack of professional cooperation, behaviors that alienated the women in his life, as well as producers, directors and co stars in his work. But perhaps it was Brando's love-hate relationship with his art that turned out to be his greatest obstacle of all. Again and again throughout his career he became frustrated in his attempts to find substance or satisfaction within his profession, causing him to look far beyond the boards of Broadway and movie sets. He escaped to remote islands, and into relationships that only seemed to complicate his life further. Brando also tried repeatedly to immerse himself in associations with socially progressive groups supporting, among others, African-Americans, Native Americans, and fighting against their victimization by (to paraphrase Vito Corleone) those "big shots" holding the strings. The inconsistent acceptance of Brando's films, both among the critics and the public, may leave the casual movie fan thinking that in the end his career was one of mediocrity. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Contempt for the film business
Fair and well-written biography of one of the great actors of the 20th century, someone who pushed the art form forward even as he held contempt for the film business. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Robert Salmon
4.0 out of 5 stars A very readable bio
Just finished reading this bio last night. It was an easy read and highly enjoyable(if such a word can be used for such a conflicted character). Read more
Published 23 months ago by Dennis Watts
4.0 out of 5 stars Good overview of Brando's career
I enjoyed this book as a general, high-level overview of Brando's career. The author shares with us the issues Brando had with his alcoholic mother and his father whom he detested... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Jerry Wilt
4.0 out of 5 stars wonderful read
got lots of info on Marlon i did not know yet..i like his early movies so i wanted to lern about him a little bit more him and his life..
Published 24 months ago by Irene Kegel
5.0 out of 5 stars Hopeless for a Brando book
The cover looked good its a younger sexy Brando, without his shirt, plus you see some chest hair.!!!!
I should some good promise but its slides into boredom. Read more
Published on June 27, 2011 by Marisa Hellmuth
5.0 out of 5 stars A World of Movie Information
I found this to be one of the best unbiased reporting of a giant in the movie industry. A no nonsense, fair-minded account of a controversial personality of the 20th Century. Read more
Published on April 9, 2011 by jonzie
4.0 out of 5 stars Measured, Entertaining, and Enlightening
Biographies of entertainers can too often veer into total salaciousness or go inside the mind of the star in a full-blown Freudian analysis. Read more
Published on September 1, 2009 by Joel S. Frady
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING
Great story of his life! It was very inspiring since I myself am an actor who looks up to the legends like Brando!
Published on June 7, 2009 by Chase R. Coleman
4.0 out of 5 stars Brando's long drawn out suicide???
Sometimes it's fun to read a book for just entertainment with a subject as eccentric as Brando. Kanfer's book is a fast page turning read which gives an excellent insight to the... Read more
Published on December 23, 2008 by Bobby D.
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