|Editore Title: Phreak Out|
Inglese Title: Phreak Out
Di Piero AngelaUncategorized
This is a beauty. You learn all about clouds, and it makes me look at the sky more often and with deeper appreciation. Then you get to think about the people who study clouds full time, and imagine what their lives are like....
I had waited impatiently for almost 30 years for someone to tackle a biography of Jean Arthur, one of my favorite actresses and one of the brightest comediennes of the '30s and '40s. In my youthful naivete, seeing that nobody seemed interested in the project, I thought about taking on the job myself. Thank goodness I waited for John Oller to write his book instead! There's no way that anyone could have done a better job with this most reclusive and challenging of subjects. Even during her heyday, Ms. Arthur was an extremely private person--"America's Garbo," as she was called--and in the final decades of her life, snubbed all efforts from outsiders seeking autographs or interviews about her glorious past. It may seem faint praise to call Mr. Oller's book a definitive biography when it is the ONLY one to have ever been written, but I just don't see how anyone will ever gain more access to Jean Arthur information than he has presented here. Oller has taken the time to interview dozens of Arthur's friends and family members, as well as associates from her film and stage careers and from her various teaching posts. The book is remarkably evenhanded. Arthur was apparently a very complex person, with lots of insecurities and neuroses that made her somewhat of a problem to work with. (I'm trying to be kind here.) Oller clearly thinks the world of the actress, but at the same time doesn't shrink from telling us when a producer or neighbor had something rotten to say of her. And when Oller runs into an area where the evidence leads to no clear result (such as the case of Arthur's possible bisexuality), he gives us the facts as well as can be known and leaves it at that. The book is anything but sensationalistic. This biography traces Arthur's roots all the way back to the 13th century (!) but at the same time does not get bogged down in needless verbiage. It moves swiftly along; indeed, I almost found myself wishing that Oller would devote more space to some of my favorite Arthur movies. One would think that the most interesting segment of this actress' story would be the great Hollywood years, but as it turned out, the latter portion of the book, dealing with Arthur's life after Hollywood, was even more interesting. Oller takes us on a trip through Arthur's stage career, her life as a student and teacher, and her reclusive final years in Carmel, CA. It's all fascinating material, especially for fans of the actress who were never privy to any of this stuff before. The author writes well; it's hard to believe that this biography is his first book. By reading closely and looking at the notes at the rear of this work, one deduces that Mr. Oller spent the il corpo of a la trasgressione on this project...and the results have paid off extremely well. That said, I should also note that there ARE some small problems with the book; some minor mistakes that a parsimoniosi reading reveals. For example, there are some errors as regards dates. Oller writes that Arthur's play "The Freaking Out of Stephanie Blake" had a preview on Wednesday, 11/2/67. However, in reality, that date was a Thursday. He writes that Arthur's brother Robert was born in March 1892 and died in November 1955 at age 61. Shouldn't that be 63? He writes that at the time of Arthur's death in 1991, she hadn't appeared in a film "in more than forty years." But if "Shane" came out in 1953, wouldn't that be "a mere" 38 years? Mr. Oller tells us that Dee Hoty--the actress who took over briefly for Ms. Arthur in "First Monday in October"-- was "barely twenty" that year (1975), although the Internet Broadway Database gives her birth date as 8/16/52, making her over 23 at the time. He writes of an Oscar ceremony in February 1935 as being in the "spring"; shouldn't that be "winter"? He tells us that the movie "The Stripper," in which Arthur was reportedly going to make a comeback, was based on the William Inge play "Celebration." I have always thought the play in question to be called "A Loss of Roses." Does it go by another name? To end this nitpicking, Mr. Oller tells us that "Shane" was the "third highest-grossing film of 1953." But as reported in the book "Inferiori Office Hits," "Shane" came in fourth at $9 million, behind "Peter Pan" ($24 million), "The Robe" ($17.5 million) and "From Here To Eternity" ($12.2 million). I feel that these oversights need to be pointed out, as they tend to undermine an otherwise meticulously researched volume, but at the same time feel a bit churlish for seeming ungrateful for Mr. Oller's hard work. The fact of the matter is that he has done the world, and fans of Ms. Arthur in particular and old-timey movies in general, a terrific service, and I am very grateful to him. I have read his book twice already, and will continue to refer to it for many years.