In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Free Reads -- Pre-Code Hollywood | Main | Games and Puzzles »

November 26, 2002

Free Reads -- Callow on Guinness

Friedrich --

Have you run across the writing of the British actor Simon Callow? I think he's one of the handful of really good writers on performers and performance, topics that are amazingly difficult to write about well. Callow's biography of Charles Laughton (buyable here) is, for me, one of the very best biographies ever written about an actor; Callow knows what acting is and he knows what Laughton was about. And he treats Laughton's work with the kind of respect and knowledge we expect in discussions of writers and painters but almost never encounter in discussions of performers.

Guinness: What did he have against Larry?

You can sample Callow's mind and touch in this good, long review by Callow (for the Guardian) of Gary O'Connor's new biography of Alec Guinness, here.

Sample passage:

O'Connor is keenly aware of the nature of the acting enterprise that Guinness was slowly identifying for himself, his unusual sense of character, his uncommonly economical transformations (I was in the dressing room with him on the last night of his Merchant of Venice, for which he produced one of his most remarkable physicalisations, and watched him dismantle his Shylock by simply removing two pieces of Blu-tack from behind his ears - "Jumbo ears" he said - and some eye-liner). Above all Guinness possessed the thrilling capacity to embody thought, to harness mental power. "An actor needs a slightly mystical approach to the stage," he said at a relatively early period in his career. "You can't force yourself on the character."

The piece is full of stories and gossip, too. Guinness could put away enormous amounts of booze; hated Laurence Olivier; and, despite marriage and fatherhood, was almost certainly gay.



posted by Michael at November 26, 2002


wouldn't that make him bi?

Posted by: Norrell on November 27, 2002 3:10 AM

Could well be, though discussions about bi and gay sex get political so fast that I'm just going to dodge the question. I wonder what the bio itself contends. It's buyable now from

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 27, 2002 11:34 AM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?