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The Man Who Saw a Ghost: The Life and Work of Henry Fonda Hardcover – October 2, 2012
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"Deeply wrought biography of the dark, conflicted, amazingly talented actor, whose personal life was messy, and whose professional life resulted in some of the truly great films--and film performances--in Hollywood history." -- Philadelphia Inquirer
"Those interested in the intimate lives of the stars will appreciate the attention to detail and richness of research. Highly recommended." -- Library Journal (starred review)
"[An] excellent work of biography. In rich, lyrical prose, McKinney deftly honors both the man and the mystery." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"As unusual and intriguing a Hollywood biography as its title suggests ... a unique portrait of an actor who hid so much emotionally but trusted his audience to see what he couldn't show them." -- Associated Press
Top Customer Reviews
But I just became tired with the derogatory references to the old drunken has-been (John Ford) and just
taking a role for a pay check (Fonda's roles later in life.) The thin reference to the suicides around Mr Fonda
was not sufficient to review a life in such a manner. Mr. Fonda stayed in a very competitive field and
worked. I think that is close to a miracle. Sometimes he produced great works of western art with beautiful
performances. But I suspect that he would have told you that sometimes it was just a job. He was not trying
to carry the world on every performance. I understand and appreciate that sentiment. This book does not.
Instead of cheering for a long career studded with great performances like Norman Thayer and Tom Joad,
the book leaves you disgusted. That is too bad.
Even though Fonda is a tough nut to crack, surely there is a way to cobble together a more complete image of the man through past and present interviews with him and those of his circle, historical archives, studio lore, etc. This book contains very little concrete information about Fonda, his films, about how he dealt with others, or about how others felt about him. However, it does have numerous long winded psychological discourses filled to the brim with speculation about how tragic events and politics shaped his performances and his life.
I am a Fonda fan and an old movie buff. I have dozens of books about actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood, including Fonda's autobiography which I have yet to read. Because of my avid interest in old Hollywood, I rarely feel that any book about this era is a waste of time or money if even one nugget of information can be gleaned from it. Therefore, if you are a great fan like me, then this book isn't a waste, but if you have only a casual interest in Fonda or the Fonda family or in classic films in general, I recommend you spend your time and money on something else.
I can only imagine that McKinney was trying to create a breezy , contemporary , fast paced literary novelization. What develops from this incessant mixture of present tense and third person is a headache, both figurative and personally literal.
As to content, an author who eschews at least pop-level analysis of his biographical subject should publish reviews and reported comments as a scrapbook, not a biography.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read about 50 pages of this, then gave up.
I wanted to read an in-depth biography of Fonda, but this book spends more time examining his films than dealing with his... Read more
"The Man Who Saw a Ghost" is a very insightful look at the life of Henry Fonda.
At first, I was annoyed by the author's use of the characters that Fonda played to... Read more
This author is amazing. He gives the kind of insights a brilliant therapist could divine after years of in depth time with a client. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Linda J. Schiller-Hanna
A fascinating narrative,meticulously researched about one who reminds us of what is missing among the celebrated stars today who appear and disappear with religious regularity. Read morePublished on March 28, 2014 by Beauregard charles
Mr. McKinney gives us a fair retrospective of Fonda's personal life and film career with some nice inside information only a Hollywood insider/researcher would know. Read morePublished on March 17, 2014 by Gary L.
Although I liked Henry Fonda as an actor I did not much like reading about the characters he played in the movies. I did not finish reading the book because it was boring to me.Published on March 13, 2014 by oregonian
This is not a terrible book, but it is one that answers few questions yet begs more questions than what one might expect. Read morePublished on March 2, 2014 by G.I Gurdjieff
When did writing about past events in the present tense become acceptable? This inane voice makes the narrative read like a story told by an affected ill-educated museum docent,... Read morePublished on February 10, 2014 by Corgle