26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Only the Illusion of Authenticity,
This review is from: Cary Grant : A Biography (Hardcover)This really isn't that bad of a biography - it's fairly well-written and organized and interesting - however I like the biographies I read to strictly adhere to FACT and not mix it with FICTION. This biography appears to be 60% fact and 40% imaginative fiction, fiction which spins basic facts into in-depth descriptive stories. I think that any critical reader will realize that from the sources that the author has identified and stated, there is no possible way that he could have had an accurate knowledge of much of what he is presenting here in rich detail. It is well-known that Grant and Randolph Scott were devoted lovers, but neither left either memoirs of the affair or talked in detail to others about it. Yet Eliot states with great certitude what they were thinking and feeling in many scenes and presents intimately choreographed moments that he would logically have no access to unless he had been a fly on the wall in one of his previous lives. Eliot does this a great deal! And though it makes for good drama and interesting reading, the thoughtful reader will stop and ask himself how the author could possibly know these details. The answer is that he doesn't - it's just artistic license which fills in the blanks and creates intriguing exchanges that might have taken place, according to the author's educated guess work. It's so convincing that I bet very few readers notice it to question. But, for me, the thought of so much clever fictionalizing here destroys the reliability of the biography. After all, Grant's life has been thoroughly documented in numerous books by now, and if you're interested in the topic, there is absolutely very little that is new and revealing here. In essence, it was an unnecessary book, unless the previous biographies weren't available for checkout at the local libraries. In trying to present the overwhelming illusion of strict fact, fact, fact, and scrupulous scholarship, Eliot uses the time-honored ploy of constantly padding his fictitous passages with tons of extranneous film facts - facts gallore on almost every other page that divert focus from the suject and overwhelm the reader with unneccessary and unwanted information at that point in the story. Example, Grant is to star in Night and Day and suddenly Eliot breaks away from the narrative and present a page-long paragraph going into listing the dozens of other actors and actresses who have made biographical films - really for what purpose other than the magician's trict of diverting our eyes and attention from noticing his less factual and creative passages concerning Grant, his detailed inner thoughts and feelings and the specifics of private undocumented coversations and meeting. Also, some of this almanac of film facts Eliot slides in are totally erroneous, such as when he introduces Irene Mayer Selznick on page 242 as Grant's great friend and stating that the friendship was firmly established back in the 1920's when Grant was an actor in NYC on Broadway and Irene was a Broadway producer. Eliot often gets confused like this. In fact, Irene was a schoolgirl in Hollywood during the 1920's when Grant was on Broadway. She didn't go to NYC and become a producer until after she divorced David Selznick after WWII. This author gets his facts easily confused, and I think he's more committed to what sounds good than to what factually was. He also, in boosting Grant's superstar, asks us to believe that Frank Capra originally planned "It's a Wonderful Life" specifically for Grant, and when Grant refused the role, Capra was forced to settle for Jimmy Stewart. If you belive that, you're not movie-savy enough to be bothered by everything else in this work of fact-based popular fiction.
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Initial post: Feb 20, 2009 3:25:21 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 20, 2009 3:25:56 PM PST
"It is well-known that Grant and Randolph Scott were devoted lovers"
Well it is well-known rumor but has never been proven as a fact by a reputable source. I guess people will forever write fictional biographies about the sexuality of Grant and Scott, but we really will never know for certain. Not that it really matters in the end.
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