- Paperback: 592 pages
- Publisher: Faber Faber Inc (December 4, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0571178324
- ISBN-13: 978-0571178322
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.3 x 5.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,209,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Joseph Losey a Revenge On Life Paperback – December 4, 1996
The Amazon Book Review
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There story's well told and mostly accurate.
David Coate never knew Losey, so he makes lots of educated guesses, and some of them are off base.
I knew Losey very well over 18 years (he mentions this frequently in the book) and feel he listened a bit too much to people
with axes to grind, but that in itself is not uninteresting.
It's a fascinating if quite fanciful portrait of one of the all-time great film directors and his tempestuous life.
Michel Ciment's "Losey on Losey," a 500 page interview conducted over the last decade of Losey's life, a worthy counter-balance, it is basically an autobiography, and along with Michael Powell's Proustian memoir and Ray Carney's Cassavetes on Cassavetes, the best film-maker autobio ever. Losey doesn't merely speak about himself with rare candor, he talks about the process of directing in a way that is actually instructive for students. And I do mean process: Losey had a highly systematic, unchanging method for approaching any project, and his discussion of form and function and design is reminiscent of another American exile/internationalist/refugee from WASP upper-class puritainism, Henry James (Losey loves James, and I think they resemble each other more than they do other artists in their own medium).
Losey was a child of the Great Depression. The dire straits of so many people turned him into a convinced leftist. It cost him dearly: he was blacklisted by Hollywood for being a `communist'.
He found work in Europe and the convinced leftist changed his attitude into `being on the left is already enough'.
He was an ambitious, energetic, tenacious person, who was also self-absorbed, self-destructive (alcoholism) and frustrated. In fact, he was never really happy. He was torn between, on the one hand, his Puritan morality (a work alcoholic desperate for work, shooting even commercials) and his rigid sense of responsibility and, on the other hand, the hedonistic existence of international show business.
Professionally, he was not a `movie author', but a writer's director, relying heavily on his screenwriters, e.g. Harold Pinter and David Mercer. He was a cinematographer, not an actor's director. Notwithstanding being a leftist, he didn't believe in message films, though, on the contrary, believed strongly in the star system.
His movie career was a long ferocious fight for and with projects, between Art and Profit. Once the budget was there, a continuous dirty battle with scripts, rights, actors, crew and producers (the money men) followed. And once the movie was finished and screened, a fierce exchange of arguments with movie critics, distributors and their marketing budgets turned into endless nightmares and an endless letter mails. Lack of box office success was one of the main reasons for the animosities.
He got also involved in battles between the super-egos of superstars (D. Bogarde: `What are you doing for the Welsh bastard (R. Burton)?')
His style is characterized by vacated space, track shots, separation of overheard conversation and image and clean cuts.
This book gives an extremely lively picture of the exhausting film business and is a must read for all movie fans.