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Somebody: The Reckless Life and Remarkable Career of Marlon Brandoby Stefan Kanfer
Synopses & Reviews
For everything we know about Brando as a man as well as an actor and artist, he remains a fascination. What are we to make of someone whose life, both personal and professional, hit such dazzling highs and such abysmal lows? Stefan Kanfer answers this question, in the process giving us the final word on one of the most astonishing talents of the twentieth century.
Born in Nebraska in 1924, Marlon grew up unaffected by the Depression but scarred by a brutal father and fatally alcoholic mother. After a turbulent childhood, Brando made his great escape to 1940s New York and fell in love with a city bristling with postwar optimism and vibrancy. Soon New York fell in love with him, too—his stunning Broadway debut as Stanley Kowalski made him an instant star at age twenty-three.
Brando then decamped for Hollywood, and Kanfer illuminates his performances in early movies like The Men, Julius Caesar, and On the Waterfront. Starting in the late fifties and continuing throughout the sixties, though, Brando transformed from bright young star into something more complicated. By looking at such films as The Young Lions, One-Eyed Jacks—the one and only movie he ever directed—and Mutiny on the Bounty, Kanfer gives us a real understanding of Brando's breathtaking talent and sexual power while also giving us a sense of the vulnerable man behind the towering image. Through assessments of his performances in critically panned movies like Reflections in a Golden Eye, Candy, and The Appaloosa, an intricately woven portrait emerges—showing not only Brando’s genius, but also his self-destructiveness, womanizing, constant dissembling, and evolving ambivalence toward his fame and his craft.
With the role of Don Corleone, Brando pulled himself out of his slump for his career’s third and perhaps most interesting act; Kanfer turns his critical eye on The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, and Last Tango in Paris, the last arguably Brando’s most intimate and disturbing appearance onscreen. After these, it was once again a downhill slalom for Brando, both professionally (the movies he made in the last fifteen years of his life were hardly worthy of him) and personally, as he lived out his finale in the shadow of horrific family tragedies.
With the surest of hands, Kanfer gives us the first truly comprehensive examination, not only of a life and a career, but of how the two came together to create the icon we know as Brando.
From the Hardcover edition.
In an insightful portrait of an iconic artist, the
As a movie actress Lucille Ball was, in her own words, queen of the B-pluses. But on the small screen she was a superstar-arguably the funniest and most enduring in the history ofTV. In this exemplary biography, Stefan Kanfer explores the roots of Lucy's genius and places it in the context of her conflicted and sometimes bitter personal life.
Ball ofFire gives us Lucy in all her contradictions. Here is the beauty who became a master of knock-down slapstick; the control freak whose comic alter ego thrived on chaos, the worshipful TV housewife whose realmarriage ended in public disaster. Here, too, is an intimate view of the dawn of television and of the America that embraced it. Charming, informative, touching. and laugh-out-loud funny, this is the book Lucy'sfans have been waiting for.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Stefan Kanfer's books include The Eighth Sin, A Summer World, The Last Empire, Serious Business, and Groucho. He was a writer and editor at Time for more than twenty years. A Literary Lion of the New York Public Library and recipient of numerous writing awards, Kanfer is currently in the Distinguished Writer program at Southampton College, Long Island University. He lives in New York and Cape Cod.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
About the Author
Stefan Kanfer’s books include The Eighth Sin, A Summer World, The Last Empire, Serious Business, Groucho, Ball of Fire, and Stardust Lost. He was a writer and editor at Time for more than twenty years and was its first bylined film critic, a post he held between 1967 and 1972. He is also the primary interviewer in the Academy Award–nominated documentary The Line King and editor of an anthology of Groucho Marx’s comedy, The Essential Groucho. He is a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library and recipient of numerous writing awards. He lives in New York and on Cape Cod.
Table of Contents
In disgrace with fortune (1924-1942) — This puppy thing (1943-1946) — Make them wonder (1947-1950) — The illusion is complete (1950-1953) — That streetcar man has a new desire! (1954-1955) — A mess pretty much (1956-1959) — Stockholders, man the lifeboats! (1960-1963) — The snake in Eden (1963-1967) — Eleven turkeys in a row (1967-1970) — How did God go about his work? (1971-1972) — An intense and hopeless despair (1973-1990) — Messenger of misery (1990-2004) — The king who would be man.
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