This is a straightforward autobiography. Having said that, it contains a lot of the stuff that I usually attach to Poehler, i.e. quick turns of eventsThis is a straightforward autobiography. Having said that, it contains a lot of the stuff that I usually attach to Poehler, i.e. quick turns of events, fast dialogue and fun stuff. The good parts that I was hoping for, but didn't expect, were those where she extrapolated on her youth and her hurt. For instance, what she refers to as her demon:
Dating in high school was very different. Boys suddenly went up your shirt. Girls were expected to give blow jobs and be sexy. You had to be hot but not a slut. You had to be into sex but never have it, except when your boyfriend wanted it. If you had sex you had to keep it a secret but also be very good at it, except not too good, because this better be your first time. Darling Nikki masturbated to a magazine, but Madonna was supposedly still a virgin. It was very confusing. Once high school started, I began to see the real difference between the plain and the pretty. Boys, who were going through their own battles started to point out things about me I hadn’t yet noticed. One told me I looked like a frog. Some told me I smiled like a Muppet. A senior told me to stop looking at him with my “big, weird eyes.” I looked in the mirror at my flat chest and my freckles and heard a sound. It was the demon, suitcase in hand. He moved in and demanded the top bunk.
Now, as I continue, please know a few things. I usually find any discussion about my own looks to be incredibly boring. I can only imagine what a yawn fest it is for you. But I cannot, in good faith, pretend I have fallen in love with how I look. The demon still visits me often. I wish I could tell you that being on television or having a nice picture in a magazine suddenly washes all of those thoughts away, but it really doesn’t. I wish I were taller or had leaner hands and a less crazy smile. I don’t like my legs, especially. I used to have a terrific flat stomach but now it’s kind of blown out after two giant babies used it as a short-term apartment. My nose is great. My tits are better than ever. I like my giant eyes, but they can get crazy. My ass is pretty sweet. My hair is too thin for my liking. My Irish and English heritage and my early sun exposure guarantee that I am on the fast track to wrinkle city. Bored yet? Because I can’t stop.
The bad thing about this book is the lack of editing. Where Tina Fey's "Bossypants" excelled, was where she was able to wrangle her experience and scatterbrained existence into a quite coherent book, but Poehler doesn't succeed even remotely as well. I wished her editor could have skinned a lot of the information that regards her children, and her pregnancy; it's just too much, and not interesting (to me). Still, this book is a rock-solid breeze in comparison with Lena Dunham's "Not That Kind of Girl".
Apart from the lack of needed editing, it's really interesting to see how Poehler comes at writing a book, having a relatively long career already in writing for TV and film:
Authors pretend their stories were always shiny and perfect and just waiting to be written. The truth is, writing is this: hard and boring and occasionally great but usually not. Even I have lied about writing. I have told people that writing this book has been like brushing away dirt from a fossil. What a load of shit. It has been like hacking away at a freezer with a screwdriver.
She does touch on a lot of stuff that we all come across in our young years, which is heartfelt.
Is there a word for when you are young and pretending to have lived and loved a thousand lives? Is there a German word for that? Seems like there should be. Let’s say it is Schaufenfrieglasploit.
The girls were a tough bunch as well. I was pushed into a locker and punched by a cheerleader. One girl pulled my hair at lunch because she thought I was “stuck up.” It was bad to be “stuck up.” It was also bad to be a “slut” or a “prude” or a “dexter” or a “fag.” There were no openly gay kids in my high school. My school had a quiet hum of racism and homophobia that kept all of that disclosure far away. Every year the girls would have a football game called the Powder Puff. The girls would play tackle football on a cold high school field while the boys dressed as cheerleaders and shouted misogynist things at everybody. It was as wonderful as it sounds. I played safety and tried to talk my way out of getting beat up. I saw a girl hike the ball and then just go over and punch someone in the nose. There was so much hate and hair spray flying. Black eyes were common. I started to learn that as much as I chased adventure, I had little interest in the physical pain that came with it. I also realized I didn’t like to be scared or out of control.
Doing comedy for a living is, in a lot of ways, like a pony and a camel trying to escape from the zoo. It’s a ridiculous endeavor and has a low probability of success, but most importantly, it is way easier if you’re with a friend.
I like her straightforward way of telling us what she likes in comedy.
For me, as a person in comedy, I am constantly weighing what I feel comfortable saying. There are big differences between what you say on live television and what you say at dinner, but you realize you have to be responsible for all of it. Each performer has to figure out what feels right. I am a strong believer in free speech and have spent most of my adult life in writers’ rooms. I have a high tolerance for touchy subject matter. There isn’t a taboo topic I can think of that I haven’t joked about or laughed at. But I have an inner barometer that has helped me get better at pinpointing what works for me and what feels too mean or too lazy. I like picking fair targets. I don’t like calling babies on websites ugly or comedy that relies on humiliation. I love ensembles and hate when someone bails or sells their partner out. I love watching a good roast but don’t think I would be particularly good at roasting someone. Maybe it all comes down to what you feel you are good at. I have a dirty mouth but know that I don’t always score when I work really blue. I have a sense of what kind of jokes I can get away with and still feel like my side of the street is clean. I like to lean my shoulder against limits and not depend on stuff that is shocking.
Her tales of working on Saturday Night Live match those that I've read about in books like Tina Fey's, and the immaculate interview book named "Live From New York", which is to say you basically give up your life to be a performer on SNL and any sense of time as well. All is frantic, and a minute is ample time to get 20 things done.
One day before a Wednesday read-through, Rachel Dratch threw her back out and had to lie down on the floor. Host Johnny Knoxville offered to help and pulled ten loose pills out of his pocket before realizing none of them were painkillers.
When Ashlee Simpson’s song screwed up, Dratch, Maya, and I were dressed in Halloween costumes for Parnell’s “Merv the Perv” sketch. We screamed and ran into Tom Broecker’s wardrobe department and hid under a table. Maya was dressed as a pregnant woman in a catsuit. I was Uma Thurman from Kill Bill. Dratch was Raggedy Ann. I remember us huddling together buzzing about the excitement of that weird live moment and then someone saying, “At least 60 Minutes is here.” For those who don’t remember, 60 Minutes was doing a profile on Lorne and happened to be there. Jackpot, Lesley Stahl!
“Relax” is a real tough one for me. Another tough one is “smile.” “Smile” doesn’t really work either. Telling me to relax or smile when I’m angry is like bringing a birthday cake into an ape sanctuary. You’re just asking to get your nose and genitals bitten off.
All in all: it's entertaining and quite funny, but somewhat caves in a bit after 70-80%. The bits where she writes about sex - especially where she, I don't know why, tells women that yes, they have to bite the bullet some times and just have sex with their men. Also, thinking only men and women exist as genders is pretty CIS and boring and daft. Still, this is an interesting book and it made me laugh a few times, but I prefer Tina Fey's book....more
Or rather, it contains a lot of great information and thought-worthy elements, but given Brand's a) ADHD way of acting outThis book is fair. Not more.
Or rather, it contains a lot of great information and thought-worthy elements, but given Brand's a) ADHD way of acting out - which I think works well in condensed textual form, or while performing stand-up - and b) how the book should have been much better edited, it's a bit of a failure.
Brand obviously caters to Noam Chomsky - whom I love - and Bill Hicks - whom I also love - but can't pull off what they brought to the table. I mean, his thoughts are interesting but not much more. I hope this book will work as a kind of trampoline for people who will reach Chomsky and Hicks because of it....more
Mother bought me a canary and I named him Petie. He was my first pet. I would talk to him – he would tweet to
From the beginning of this autobiography:
Mother bought me a canary and I named him Petie. He was my first pet. I would talk to him – he would tweet to me. I’d close the windows and let him fly around the room. It was hell catching him, but I felt he was entitled to some freedom. One ghastly day when I suppose I thought he was well trained enough, and attached to me enough, I must have been a bit careless about a window, because he got out. He flew away – I never saw him again. I cried so. Mother tried replacing him with another canary, but it was never the same.
That quote is typical of something that turns up throughout Bacall's life; if something's good, it - at the most bitter points in her life - is fleeting.
However, this is thankfully not the tone of this autobiography. Before the last, updated bit of the book, Bacall details how she's overcome obstacles while pursuing a very glass-half-full point of view. And she's fought to be where she turned up early in her career, along with extraordinary luck, as she states. Among her lucky stars, she met Bette Davis:
Bette Davis was very patient. She said, ‘Well, if you want to act, you should probably try to work in summer stock. That’s the best way to learn your craft.’ ‘Oh yes, that’s what I want to do – I want to start on the stage and then go into films just as you did.’ ‘Well, be sure it’s really what you want to do with your life. It’s hard work and it’s lonely.’ I remembered she had said in an interview when talking about her life, ‘I have two Oscars on my mantelpiece, but they don’t keep you warm on cold winter evenings.’ More silence. Robin looked at me – I knew it was time to go. I said, ‘Thank you so much, Miss Davis, for your time – for seeing us – I am so grateful.’ Betty said much the same. Bette Davis shook our hands, wished us luck. Robin opened the door and out we went.
She started working as a model and attending acting school. She constantly wondered where her life would take her:
One Saturday morning in 1942, Mother and Rosalie took me to the Capitol Theatre to see a movie called Casablanca. We all loved it, and Rosalie was mad about Humphrey Bogart. I thought he was good in it, but mad about him? Not at all. She thought he was sexy. I thought she was crazy. Mother liked him, though not as much as she liked Chester Morris, who she thought was really sexy – or Ricardo Cortez, her second favorite. I couldn’t understand Rosalie’s thinking at all. Bogart didn’t vaguely resemble Leslie Howard. Not in any way. So much for my judgment at that time.
Howard Hawks, the legendary movie director, found Bacall and primed her for Hollywood.
He said he thought he’d like to put me in a film with Cary Grant or Humphrey Bogart. I thought, ‘Cary Grant – terrific! Humphrey Bogart – yucch.’
There are a lot of Hollywood anecdotes in the book:
One day I was having lunch at his poolside and was the last to leave. Finally he walked me to the door. At that moment the door opened. Standing there in white shirt, beige slacks – with a peach complexion, light brown hair, and the most incredible face ever seen by man – was Greta Garbo. I almost gasped out loud as Cole introduced me to her. No make-up – unmatched beauty. It was the only time I saw her at anything but a distance.
...but despite this, it's mostly about Bacall's own emotions and experiences.
And upon making "To Have and Have Not":
Howard took me to wardrobe, chose a dark shirt and jacket, put a beret on my head, and told me the test would be the next Tuesday. He drummed into my head that he wanted me to be insolent with the man – that I was being the forward one, but with humor – and told me about yet more scenes he had directed other actresses in to give me examples of the attitude he wanted. I hung on his every word, trying to figure out how the hell a girl who was totally without sexual experience could convey experience, worldliness, and knowledge of men.
By the end of the third or fourth take, I realized that one way to hold my trembling head still was to keep it down, chin low, almost to my chest, and eyes up at Bogart. It worked, and turned out to be the beginning of ‘The Look.’
And, upon falling in love with Bogie:
He was a gentle man – diametrically opposed to most of the parts he played. He detested deceit of any kind. He had never had a secret relationship such as we were having. Our drives home, foolish jokes, kidding on the set, all the behavior of kids in love – he’d never known. Nor had I. I had so many new feelings all at once. I was in awe of him and his position of ‘movie star.’ I was aware of being nineteen and he forty-four, but when we were together that didn’t seem to matter. I was older than nineteen in many ways and he had such energy and vitality he seemed to be no particular age. I was an innocent sexually – Bogie began awakening feelings that were new to me. Just his looking at me could make me tremble. When he took my hand in his, the feeling caught me in the pit of my stomach – his hand was warm, protecting, and full of love. When he saw me at the beginning of the day and when he called me on the telephone, his first words were always ‘Hello, Baby.’ My heart would literally pound. I knew that physical changes were happening within me – the simplest word, look, or move would bring a gut reaction. It was all so romantic – I would not have believed Bogie was so sentimental, so loving. I couldn’t think of anything else – when I wasn’t with him I was thinking of him, or talking about him. One-track-minding with a vengeance.
The problematic love story between Bacall and Bogart is the epic piece of the book, to me; we see how their love spires while Bogart is married with Mayo Methot, a person who seems to have experienced issues with alcoholism and spousal abuse - to my knowledge, where she abused Bogart, who hid from Methot as much as possible. This does not seem to have expediated their separation.
But, their love:
Bogie’s letters were all on the same themes: how much he loved me – how terrified he was of my being hurt – how he wanted to protect me – how wonderful of me to take that long drive to see him for so short a time. A few examples. Baby, I do love you so dearly and I never, never want to hurt you or bring any unhappiness to you – I want you to have the loveliest life any mortal ever had. It’s been so long, darling, since I’ve cared so deeply for anyone that I just don’t know what to do or say. I can only say that I’ve searched my heart thoroughly these past two weeks and I know that I deeply adore you and I know that I’ve got to have you. We just must wait because at present nothing can be done that would not bring disaster to you. And a week later: Baby, I never believed that I could love anyone again, for so many things have happened in my life to me that I was afraid to love – I didn’t want to love because it hurts so when you do. And then: Slim darling, you came along and into my arms and into my heart and all the real true love I have is yours – and now I’m afraid you won’t understand and that you’ll become impatient and that I’ll lose you – but even if that happened, I wouldn’t stop loving you for you are my last love and all the rest of my life I shall love you and watch you and be ready to help you should you ever need help. All the nice things I do each day would be so much sweeter and so much gayer if you were with me. I find myself saying a hundred times a day, ‘If Slim could only see that’ or ‘I wish Slim could hear this.’ I want to make a new life with you – I want all the friends I’ve lost to meet you and know you and love you as I do – and live again with you, for the past years have been terribly tough, damn near drove me crazy. You’ll soon be here, Baby, and when you come you’ll bring everything that’s important to me in this world with you.
Then the June 14 letter: Darling, sometimes I get so unhappy because I feel that I’m not being fair to you – that it is not fair to wait so long a time – and then somehow I feel that it’s alright because I’m not hurting you, not harming and never shall. I’d rather die than be the cause of any hurt or harm coming to you, Baby, because I love you so much. It seems so strange that after forty-four years of knocking around I should meet you, know you and fall in love with you when I thought that that could never again happen to me. And it’s tragic that everything couldn’t be all clean and just right for us instead of the way it is because we’d have such fun together. Out of my love for you I want nothing but happiness to come to you and no hurt ever. Slim darling, I wish I were your age again – perhaps a few years older – and no ties of any kind – no responsibilities – it would be so lovely, for there would be so many long years ahead for us instead of the few possible ones.
The death of Bogie is too harrowing to even try to concatenate here; all I can say is that it makes for an adamant, excellent cry, if one is at all possible. I'll just print a small quote:
We were standing in the hall talking when I heard Steve, who was lying on the floor at the head of the stairs, calling to me through the banister railing, ‘What is the date, Mommy?’ He was writing something. I went upstairs to find that in a little agenda book he had, he had written: ‘January 14th – Daddy died.’
I was breathing, but there was no life in me.
Bacall's later life makes for a less interesting tome, and I know I'm being brutally honest, even though it's still interesting and quite inspirational; I love the story of Bacall and Bogart, one that spanned lifetimes in some ways; his and her flaws are taken up, and she repeatedly, veraciously emphasises their eternal love, with examples.
The truth is that I wanted it all – all the time. And God knows I tried to have it. And God knows I almost did.
And to end with:
People always ask, ‘Are you happy?’ or, if I’m working, ‘You must be happy.’ I wish I knew what ‘happy’ means. I was happy when I was nineteen, and when my life began at twenty. I was happy then, though something always shook me up in the middle of my joyous time. So my life has been very much a seesaw.
All in all: very readable and worthy of reading. What a life. A rider from a young age, and then wise and perhaps not working as much in the latter part of the book - where she notes many a dead friend - but still, a Life. Go read....more
Humphrey Bogart grew up in a progressive family where his parents were successful. They did, however, not lavish him with much attention. Au contraireHumphrey Bogart grew up in a progressive family where his parents were successful. They did, however, not lavish him with much attention. Au contraire, Bogart grew up an anti-authorative thespian who played theater before becoming the world-famous movie star and icon that he is known as today.
A libertine and man of his word - while it is argued that he was a serial adulterer - Bogart seems to have stayed true to his friends and work for as long as he lived. Half self destructive, half great at what he did, he believed in being a "man" and having a lot of fun.
The book turns him out as a no-nonsense kind of guy who always went for the truth, except in his most alcoholic moments. It shows his ups and downs, and how he always turned around some really bad situations in his life.
This book is straight-forward. There are no revelations in here, and the contents are put out chronologically in one simple way. There is no personal style to the writing, and towards the end I got the feeling that the author simply wanted to finish it off.
There are a lot of enthralling stories on how Bogie and Hollywood worked in the 1940-1960s, not to mention some comparisons between the man and modern-day actors....more
From Lee Strasberg's eulogy at Marilyn Monroe's funeral:
Marilyn Monroe was a legend.
In her own lifetime she created a myth of what a poor girl from a
From Lee Strasberg's eulogy at Marilyn Monroe's funeral:
Marilyn Monroe was a legend.
In her own lifetime she created a myth of what a poor girl from a deprived background could attain. For the entire world she became a symbol of the eternal feminine.
But I have no words to describe the myth and the legend. I did not know this Marilyn Monroe. We gathered here today, knew only Marilyn - a warm human being, impulsive and shy, sensitive and in fear of rejection, yet ever avid for life and reaching out for fulfillment.
This collection of letters that Marilyn never sent, notes, diary-like entries, thoughts ranging from her first, failed marriage, up to a run-through of answers to interview questions just before her death, is a very intimate collection.
In the notes - mostly written by herself but also through typed transcriptions by her assistant - and the diary-entries, Marilyn goes through an array of emotions regarding a variety of subjects, persons, projects and other matters, ranging from her psychoanalysis, her seemingly constant self-questioning and self-doubt, to happiness, being married, succeeding with her own production company and of course, on reading.
This brings a very different image of the person, rather than the very two-dimensional, simple creature that some seem to prefer her to be.
Her honesty is key here, to me. Her writing reeks of honesty and is very interesting, especially when she writes of her fears, examining her past and considering her future, notably through the founding of her own production company (taking on MGM by doing so), which is professionally no small feat.
She seems to have been very self-critical. She doesn't dump down on anybody else in these notes.
As a poet, she is quite rough; not my cup of tea, and the lyrics don't seem to have been worked over much. Still, these are notes grabbed from a box in a garage. It's not like she attempted to get them published.
All in all, it's an accomplished bunch of pieces from a very talented, intelligent and seemingly pleasant and honest person's life. I wish she'd get more recognition for all of the things for which she's not most famous, but that's show business, I guess....more
This book is often about tidbits that Caine - birthname Maurice Micklewhite - has plucked from Hollywood. For example:
I was browsing through the power
This book is often about tidbits that Caine - birthname Maurice Micklewhite - has plucked from Hollywood. For example:
I was browsing through the power tool display when I popped my head round the corner and there in the next aisle was Klaus Kinski buying an axe. Never has a shop full of DIY aficionados cleared so quickly...
As such, it gets a bit tedious at times, but given that Caine was 77 years old upon finishing it and has a dry, yet interesting sense of humor, it's quite forgiven. Very linear, but still straightforward in a way that he writes of his own life, often plodding thoughts about people in films he's been with, apart from some dull food-recipes at the end.
He was around for more than a decade before becoming famous, "resting" between roles with other unemployed friends like Terence Stamp and Sean Connery.
When he first started out in theatre...I'll quote him on it:
Even so, I understood fully the sarcasm behind the young critic’s assessment of my performance. ‘Maurice Micklewhite played the Robot, who spoke in a dull, mechanical, monotonous voice, to perfection.’ Bastard.
He also provides food for laypeople as far as acting is concerned, and is humble and credits people who've taught him:
In one play I did in Lowestoft I was cast as a drunkard and at the first rehearsal I came rolling onto the stage and staggered about. The director held up his hand to stop proceedings. ‘What do you think you are doing?’ he demanded. Feeling rather aggrieved, I said, ‘I’m playing a drunk.’ ‘Exactly,’ he said. ‘You are playing a drunk – I am paying you to be a drunk. A drunk is a man who is trying to act sober; you are a man who is trying to act drunk. It’s the wrong way round.’ Spot on.
Some paragraphs are really lovely and reminded me of a time when courtesy and "taking the high road" was often the case, and why:
The horse was as quiet as can be, I was assured, and had been chosen with me in mind. His name – I should have suspected something – was Fury. My first few rides on Fury were uneventful and I began to relax. But on the first day of shooting, he seemed to switch personality. I had changed into costume and had planned to start the day with a little trot. The trot began sedately enough but soon turned into a canter and then began to gather speed until it turned into a gallop I had no chance of controlling. We were eventually brought to a screaming halt (it was me doing the screaming) by a jeep from the unit, three miles from the set. I have rarely been angrier and let rip at the director, James Clavell, as soon as I was back. He sat calmly absorbing my anger and then got up, took me by the arm and led me to a quiet corner and gave me one of the best lessons of my life. ‘I was a prisoner of the Japanese during the war,’ he said, ‘and the reason I survived and others did not is that I never lost face. If you lose your temper in front of people you do not know, you lose their respect and it is almost impossible to win it back. You must keep control – if you cannot control yourself, then you have no chance of controlling others. The reason the horse ran away was that your sword was slapping against his side as you began to trot. He thought you were urging him on to go faster and faster.’ I have never forgotten his advice.
Also words on John Houston, who also directed Caine's favourite actor, Humphrey Bogart, upon acting in his film "The Man Who Would Be King":
In The Man Who Would Be King, John Huston lived up to every inch of his reputation as a great director. Throughout the making of the movie he addressed Sean and me as ‘Danny’ and ‘Peachy’, even off set, and he was somehow able to convey with the minimum of fuss or explanation exactly what he was looking for in a character. He didn’t tell you much, he just watched you very closely and you knew you were doing it right just by looking at him. He held the view – rare among directors – that good actors know what they are doing and should be left alone to do it if at all possible. I said to him once, ‘You don’t really tell us much, do you?’ And he said, ‘Two things, Michael. The art of good direction is casting. If you cast it right you don’t have to tell the actors what to do. Also,’ he went on, ‘you’re being paid a lot of money to do this, Michael. You should be able to get it right on your own – you don’t need me to tell you what to do!’ He only ever stopped me once mid-take, when I had to tell Christopher Plummer (who was playing Rudyard Kipling), what Danny and I were up to. Kipling warns us that what we were planning was very dangerous and Peachy replies, ‘We are not little men.’ I put the emphasis on the word ‘not’, but John held up his hand. ‘We are not little men,’ he said. I shrugged and did it his way and when we finished the take I saw he was smiling. He was right. We were not little men – under Huston’s direction we became giants.
And one of the many signs that Caine has come a long way since his poor beginnings:
The first lunchtime on the set just before we started filming, we were all given personal Geiger counters to test the food for radiation. The first thing we all did was buy new batteries. Radioactive or not, the food was terrible and Shakira would go back and forth to London, returning to St Petersburg with Marks and Spencer’s steak and kidney pudding and other goodies to keep us all going.
A more precise account of this was given upon his recollections regarding "lazy" youths in the high-rise building areas where he acted in the film "Harry Brown"; he stated that he has previously thought that criminals should basically just be locked up for a long time, but that mingling with these youths made him think that there might actually be reasons as to why they're out and about, learning bad manners along the way. Oh, brother. Intertwined with stuff like this, I wonder why that took him such a long time to grasp:
In Britain if you are successful and from a working-class background, you get this sort of thing all the time. It’s often a tiny and insignificant comment made by a tiny and insignificant person, but it’s annoying – a bit like being bitten by a flea you can’t quite ever squash. I remember talking to a reporter years ago about my elder daughter, Dominique. ‘Oh,’ he said, trying to stifle a laugh, ‘so you named her after the singing nun, did you?’ (There had recently been a number one hit called ‘Dominique’, by a Belgian nun.) ‘No,’ I said. ‘I named her after the heroine of the Ayn Rand novel The Fountainhead, Dominique Francon.’ I can still see the look on his stunned face: how could this ignorant Cockney bastard have read a book like that? Class prejudice works in weird and wonderful ways in Britain. A supreme example of this is our planning system: thousands of apartment blocks were built for lower-income families after the war, with nowhere for tenants to park their cars. I suppose at the time the planners didn’t envisage that the working class would be able to buy cars.
While quoting history, this note of his angered me some (if it's indeed true):
The very worst thing about the London social scene in those days was that everything shut at ten thirty – pubs, theatres, cafés, buses, tube, everything. I once heard a member of parliament explain that it was to make sure the working classes weren’t late for work the next day. You can imagine how that went down with my friends and me...
And, the illustrious Swinging 1960s...
Working-class actors like Terence Stamp, Albert Finney, Peter O’Toole and me were blazing a trail, too – and we were all taking full advantage of a much freer attitude to sex and booze, to have the time of our lives. Peter was probably the wildest of us all. During my time understudying him in The Long and the Short and the Tall in 1959, my main job was to bring in the drink and find the parties, but I soon learnt to start the evening off with him and then duck out. God knows, I love a party, but I just couldn’t keep up. On one Saturday night after the show we were about to set off when he suggested that we line our stomachs first at a fast-food place in Leicester Square called the Golden Egg. This seemed to me to be perfectly sensible and I was encouraged because Peter’s diet hadn’t to this point seemed to include any food, so I went along and ordered a fry-up. I have absolutely no idea what happened after that because the next thing I remember is waking up in broad daylight in a flat I had never been in before, still wearing my coat. I nudged Peter, who was lying next to me, and asked him what time it was. ‘Never mind what time it is,’ he said, ‘what fucking day is it?’ Our hostesses, two rather dubious-looking girls I really don’t remember having set eyes on before, told us it was Monday and it was five o’clock. The curtain went up at eight. Somehow we got to the theatre in time – we hadn’t even been sure we were still in London – but instead of being pleased to see us, the stage manager was very cross. It seemed that the manager of the Golden Egg had already been round: henceforth we were both banned. ‘But what did we – ?’ I began. Peter nudged me. ‘Never ask,’ he said. ‘Better not to know.’ The voice of experience. They say that if you can remember the Sixties, you weren’t there. And this was only 1959...
His recollection of Austin, Texas, filled me with longing for the place again, one of my dream cities:
The film was shot in Austin, the capital of Texas. Austin is a very rich town with a massive university and a lot of steak houses. The most famous one at that time was Sullivan’s and it was here that the then governor of Texas and his cronies always ate: we saw George W. Bush there every time we went. Everything in Texas is big, including the onion rings. Benjamin and I were at Sullivan’s one lunchtime and just about to start eating, when we saw a woman approaching us with a smile and a camera. It happens all the time when you are well known: not only is your meal interrupted with the photograph, but attention is drawn to your table and so everyone else thinks it’s OK to interrupt you, too. Anyway, as she came over, we both put a brave face on it and prepared to pose, but she completely took the wind out of our outraged sails by saying, ‘Can I take a picture of your onion rings? The folks back home just won’t believe how big they are!’ With a sigh of relief, we both said yes . . . Austin is a strange town – and the citizens know it. I have a souvenir mug that says ‘Keep Austin Weird’, and they are doing a pretty good job. Sandra was going out with Bob Schneider around the time we were making the film and she took a group of us to see him play. When he came on, the young female fans at the front lifted up their blouses and flashed their breasts at him. Sandra said that they always did that to him as a greeting. It would have made my day back when I was fourteen, but it seems a pretty odd business to me now. The weirdest thing I saw in Austin was from the window of our hotel, which was on the banks of the Colorado river. Shakira and I arrived back at the hotel late one afternoon and the receptionist told us rather mysteriously to go out onto the balcony of our room at precisely six o’clock and look at the bridge over the river on our right. We did exactly as she suggested and saw that there were crowds of other guests standing on their balconies, too, and a host of people standing below, all with cameras ready, waiting for something to happen. Not wanting to miss anything, I rushed back inside to get my camera and got back just in time to witness one of the most extraordinary sights I’ve ever seen. At dead on six o’clock, two million bats flew out from under the bridge in their nightly search for food. There’s no other word for it – weird.
All in all: a fair autobiography. I'd love for it to have been more detailed in the introspective, but I guess that's just how Caine writes....more