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Edge of Midnight: The Life of John Schlesinger: The Authorised Biography Hardcover – June 28, 2005

4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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From Publishers Weekly

"There never was anything else," British film director John Schlesinger confided about his life's work. Frail and slowed by a stroke in 2000, the subject of this moving, comprehensive and at times dishy biography shared these pearls with Mann just before his death in 2003. A prolific filmmaker and prominent figure of the British "New Wave," Schlesinger was a born director, according to his siblings. He was both iconoclastic-openly gay before it was fashionable or the least bit acceptable-and fortunate enough to begin his career at a time when British cinema was mining the gritty world of the working class. Amid the recollections of swinging London in the '60s and the descriptions of Schlesinger triumphs, such as Darling (1965), Midnight Cowboy (1969), Marathon Man (1976) and Cold Comfort Farm (1996), Mann covers a prolific career that encompassed film, theater and television. (Schlesinger cut his cinematic teeth on BBC programs.) The author also explains with both detachment and empathy Schlesinger's efforts to bring homosexuality to the screen with a kind of eloquence typically only afforded to heterosexual love affairs. Schlesinger did so with Sunday Bloody Sunday, A Kind of Loving and, through subtext, Midnight Cowboy, which won him an Oscar but was summarily trashed by the old Hollywood guard, who feared the continuation of the celebration of sleaze. The trashing certainly didn't harm Schlesinger's social life, however. His home remained a salon for Hollywood's biggest stars, as well as literary legends and infamous party hounds. Mann writes with a tenderness and admiration about a director who only occasionally enjoyed great success but maintained a great talent for exploring human relationships no matter how unconventional or untidy. 30 b&w photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

William J. Mann is the author of two previous Hollywood history best-sellers, Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood and Wisecracker: The Life and Times of William Haines, as well as three novels. He lives in Provincetown, MA.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 628 pages
  • Publisher: Billboard Books; First Edition ~1st Printing edition (June 28, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823083667
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823083664
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,715,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Foster Corbin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The writher Michael Cunningham (THE HOURS) said that seeing SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY "saved" his life. Peter Finch (on the same movie) remarked that when he did the close-up "liplock" with Murray Head that he just closed his eyes and thought of England. When Princess Margaret and her then husband Lord Anthony Snowdon saw SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY, she said within earshot of both Schlesinger and his lover Michael Childers, that she thought the movie was "horrific. . . "Men in bed kissing!" (This from a woman who had an affair with a man 18 years her junior and was caught on film topless with him-- while married to Snowdon.)This film, the director said was his most personal and was about his own affair with a young man; but he labeled THE DAY OF THE LOCUST his "greatest achievement, something that few critics, however, would say. Bob Dylan wrote "Lay, Lady, Lady" for MIDNIGHT COWBOY but didn't get it finished in time to be used in the movie. Schlesinger hated exercise and opined that when he thought about it, he just lay down until the moment passed. Although he lived for many years in the U. S. he felt that many Americans lacked manners, particularly when they went to movies. "'Audiences talk incessantly. . . They run up and down and eat all the time, because that is what they are used to doing at home.'" (We all can tip our hats to this gentleman for that attitude.) Mr. Mann's robust biography of John Schlesinger is chock-full of these and similar details. He had access to everything about this great director: tapes, diaries, family and friends and Mr. Schlesinger although only after he had had a stroke.

Although Mann's work is the "authorized" biography, he assured both Schlesinger and Childers that he would tell the whole story, the "low points and highs.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
William J. Mann is a Hollywood historian and novelist. He is a fine writer and a gay man. His books that I've read are either gay stories or are about the "gayness" of Hollywood, so it is appropriate that he chose openly gay director John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy; Sunday, Bloody Sunday; The Day of the Locust)as the subject of this biography. This is Mann's masterpiece, I believe, for he was able to meet and spend time and become friends with Schlesinger before the director died. He was also given total access to Schlesinger's diaries and papers, and because, no doubt, of this friendship, was welcomed by the stars and others that the director worked with. That makes this book a wealth of information, not only about the director himself, but insight into other legendary figures of Hollywood like Dustin Hoffmann, Glenda Jackson, Alan Bates, Salle Field, Shirley Mac Laine, Jon Voight, and many others. We learn about Schlesinger's process--both in making films and staging of live theater and opera--and we learn of critics' opinions, which are quite surprising. Those opinions prove one thing: opinions are simply that; many films fail because critics lambast them, only to find that another audience in another time find their worth because sensibilities change. Schlesinger is a fascinating subject, and Mann does justice to him.
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Format: Paperback
Edge Of Midnight: The Life Of John Schlesinger is the authorized biography of the filmmaker whose most famous works include "Midnight Cowboy", "Bloody Sunday", "Marathon Man", and "Day of the Locust". Written with the full cooperation of Schlesinger, his family, and his companion of 36 years Michael Childers, as well as with complete access to tapes, diaries, production notes, and correspondence, not to mention interviews with the actors, crew members, friends and colleagues who knew Schlesinger, Edge Of Midnight accurately traces the singularly amazing career of a dedicated and visionary man. Highly recommended for professional cinema researchers and intrigued lay readers alike.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am lying in the sun in Hollywood and I have just devoured this splendid John Schlesinger biography. I recommend it to every movie fan the world over. It is a lovely book and worthy of its subject.

Being north of forty, it would be impossible to underestimate the importance of John Schlesinger's influence on my life as a gay man. Midnight Cowboy and Sunday Bloody Sunday were seismic movie going moments for me. Truly great movies in their own right, both have fully-dimensional gay characters as well as homo-erotic moments that lodged in my young brain and stayed. Jon Voight is a luscious Ken Doll in Midnight Cowboy. And Murray Head could be the poster boy for sexy 70's male in Sunday Bloody Sunday. Glenda Jackson watching Murray's perfect physique as he showered was thunderous for me because every day in Catholic high school I stood next to beautiful boys in showers and I couldn't stop staring and also could not forget none of them would ever be mine.

And thank you John Schlesinger for Julie Christie! The movie-going public will be forever in John's gratitude for giving us Julie.

They say that the music one listens to in our teenage years becomes "our" passion music-wise for our entire lives. Certainly, my life-long allegiance to Joni Mitchell and Aretha Franklin attests to that.

I feel the same way about Julie Christie. I was too young for Billy Liar and Darling when they came out. But both movies mean a great deal to me now. As do McCabe & Mrs. Miller and Shampoo and Return of the Soldier and Afterglow. I love watching this creature on screen. Julie is sexy to me even though I have no desire for her. And I am as much a fan now as I ever was when I first laid eyes on her. More of a fan probably.

Bravo to William J. Mann for painting a vivid portrait of one of our greatest film directors. And bravo John for your illustrious career!
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