Don Hosek - Past reading - Entertainment

This is the archive of my reading. Soon, I'll put in the subject subindexes.

What I've been read in the past - Entertainment
My Lunches with Orson by Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles
[Finished 30 April 2015] When I was younger, I knew Orson Welles primarily from his commercial appearances. Even at that point of his decline, his charisma was undeniable. I’ve later come to become a fan of his works, as inconsistent and maddening as everything after Kane can be. It’s very easy to hear Welle’s voice through these transcripts of lunch conversations. It would have been nice to have a bit more commentary and context about the conversations (it’s easy for me to forget that Welles lived into the 1980s as his television presence had dissipated before that time) but it’s a great account of the people and personalities of twentieth-century film.

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
[Finished 27 June 2011] I didn’t really fully appreciate Steve Martin until I saw his surprisingly intelligent films of the early 90s: L. A. Story, Roxanne and Leap of Faith, three films which made it clear that he was more than just a silly performer. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy him earlier. I had memorized a number of his early bits learned from friend’s comedy LPs and appearances on Saturday Night Live.

Here, Martin pulls back the curtain and gives a fascinating account of his life from childhood to his transition from stand-up to movie-making with The Jerk. He quotes enough of his early routines to keep the smiles coming (at times the book is laugh-out-loud funny), along with a number of great early photos. And the whole thing is exceedingly well-written. My favorite line would be, “Was she beautiful? We were all beautiful. We were in our twenties,” a sentiment both poignant, entertaining and true.

The Film Club: A Memoir by David Gilmour
[Finished 28 July 2009] As a movie buff, when I first heard about this book, about a father who lets his son drop out of school and not work in exchange for watching three movies a week with him was one that I couldn’t pass up.

As a memoir, it has the usual not-quite-story-arc structure of real life, and at times Gilmour’s teenage son’s travails in his love life can get repetitive, and the film commentary which is pretty dense in the early days of the story start to fade away later in the book. But on the other hand, it’s an interesting account of hands-off parenting (eventually) turning out alright, although the route there is circuitous and leads the reader (and Gilmour) to wonder whether it’s all a big mistake.

Harpo Speaks by Harpo Marx
[Finished 13 September 2007] Courtesy of MacBreak Weekly (no, really!), I keep reading show biz bios.

So next up was Harpo Marx. I always loved the Marx brothers as a kid, although I was more partial to Groucho than the others. Having read this, I’m wondering whether, in fact, Harpo was the real genius of the bunch. One of the highlights was reading about Harpo’s involvement with the Algonquin Roundtable, a rather incongruous match-up: The second-grade drop-out hanging out with some of the greatest literary wits of the time. But in reading this, it makes sense. They didn’t need another Harold Ross at the table, they needed someone to engage in juvenile antics to help relieve the pretension.

The voice of the story is wonderfully modest, with Harpo happily telling tales of his life with a sincere modesty and occasional bits of gee-whiz naivety.

I’m thinking that I want to read about George Burns or Jack Benny next after this batch.

The King of Comedy by Shawn Levy
[Finished 26 May 2007] I heard about this book while listening to MacBreak Weekly and decided to pick it up at the library and read it. This would be my first entertainment-industry book, I suppose, as I had to create new categories in the database for it.

Usually in a biography, the most interesting part is the childhood and adolescence, but in the case of Lewis’s life, I found the early years of his life to be painfully dull. It wasn’t until we got to the development of his primary character, “The Kid,” while he was partnered with Dean Martin that his life began to become fascinating and even more interesting were some of the aspects of Lewis’s personal life.

As a kid who grew up watching Lewis on the MDA telethon every Labor Day weekend along with his movies playing on weekend matinees on the local UHF stations, it was fascinating to learn more about his life. I realized after reading this that I really don’t have many strong memories of his “golden age” films, although I do remember seeing “Hardly Working” in the theatre and being quite impressed by his performance in the Scorsesi film from which this book takes its title.