Friday, June 22, 2007

David Sez: I'm Not Glenn, But Read This Book!

Okay. I know I haven't been talking about movies much lately- partly because I've hardly been watching them; the last two I've watched were American Psycho on Saturday night, and before that Zodiac the Tuesday before, so I've hardly had much to talk about- and I get the feeling that music discussion isn't as interesting to people (?). But I am definitely going to be seeing La Vie en Rose and Tell No-One either next Tuesday or Thursday (Wednesday is taken up by a trip to Wimbledon!), and possibly Water on Monday, and I will try to talk about them. In the interim, however, here is something at least partly movie related, as I bring you a golden reading recommendation...


Buy this book. Or at least go to the library and get it out. I am naturally assuming here that you have an interest in Katharine Hepburn- you probably shouldn't get it out if you don't- but then, who doesn't? [/naive] It's a long book. Really long. I mean, it took me about six months to get through- granted, I was very erratic (one chapter; nothing for three months; up to halfway; nothing for three more months; finished in one go), but it's not exactly a day's read. However, as my strange reading habits show, it's very engrossing. Once you're in, it's hard to get out.

For Katharine Hepburn was a very fascinating woman. There have been, you might say, so many books on her already, including one by the woman herself. Ah, yes. But what William J. Mann does so well- and so insistently- is strip back the complex and deep-seated legend that has been spun about Kate since she began as a movie star. And the woman herself was instrumental in spinning this legend- as she aged, became the celebrated actress in films like The Lion of Winter and Long Day's Journey Into Night, she realized the public wouldn't truly love the woman she really was, but instead they loved the myth, the facade. They loved the romantic trials of Kate and Spencer Tracy- in reality and much more complicated and troubled relationship that was told, as Mann explores in detail. Kate: The Woman Who Was Katharine Hepburn is all about challenging the accepted story, the built-up legend, about stripping back the Golden Age of Hollywood to reveal what was hidden beneath.

Ultimately, though, Mann acknowledges rightly that all this spinning of legend doesn't make Kate any less of a star, any weaker as a person or less respected. The myth-spinning is all part of the fascination, what made Hepburn such a star, such an enigma. Mann charts her entire life with previously unavailable information and interviews, extensively looking at what made the woman tick. If you have any interest in Hollywood's Golden Age and Katharine Hepburn, this is a book you need to read.

2 comments:

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