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Bring on the Empty Horses Paperback – Import, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
The big stars like Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, Vivien Leigh, Greta Garbo, Laurence Olivier, Marlene Dietrich, and Humphrey Bogart are all mentioned; the film directors and producers like Samuel Goldwyn, John Huston, Michael Curtiz, William Wellman, and all the other inhabitants that made Hollywood the magical place it was - while gossip columnists Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper intimidated many personalities with their "items" publicized in the scandal sheets.
The title is derived from Director Michael Curtiz's statement as recorded by Niven who said during the filming of "Charge of the Light Brigade" at the point when the wranglers were to release the riderless horses to indicate the carnage that had just been visited upon the 600 charging cavalrymen Curtiz raised up his megaphone and shouted "Bring on the empty horses!" delighting all who heard the malapropism.
Niven is always a gentleman in his disclosures and never does he make anybody look bad, rather he shows the humor lurking just below the surface in just about any situation for anybody who was willing to look. "Bring on the Empty Horses" is an insider's view into the movie bidness during the time when it was at its most fascinating with stars like you don't see any more.
If you are a film buff, David Niven's book will give you lots of ammunition for your cocktail party conversations with your fellow film fans. I personally like the 1930 - 59 era the best and strive to see all the films from that era that I can. Typically they are better than the later stuff by a large margin. Niven stated that the studios had name writers under contract to provide scripts for all their projects. With a good script, he said anybody can look good and I think he was right.
In this book, Niven confirms his credentials as an ingenious writer as he pours his own brand of humour onto each and every encounter he describes. Not once does he stoop to the level of cheap gossip, not once does attack another person. Instead, we have a first hand account of that golden age of Hollywood written by a master wordsmith who has also mastered the art of writing humour. Only a writer who had also been a central part of that of that glorious cast of characters and people could possibly have produced this work.
Was it me, or did I detect a certain disappointment from within his own relationship? More likely it was that David Niven was far too much the perfect gentleman to mention such things.
If you are a fan of the olden days - the golden days of Hollywood, you will enjoy this book. If you simply want a damned good read, you will enjoy this book even more. Truth is, I cannot imagine anyone could not enjoy such an excellent product.