Screening History

Gore Vidal, Author Harvard University Press $14.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-674-79586-0
Vidal's loose theme in this short, witty volume is that American movies manipulate us: on a personal level by inventing fictions that replace our own experience, on a political one by shaping our national self-image. Part memoir, part film commentary, his digressive narrative (based on a lecture series) reveals that his major formative influences included Boris Karloff in The Mummy , Errol Flynn in The Prince and the Pauper and Henry Fonda in Young Mr. Lin coln. He derides U.S. presidential elections as ``fast-moving fictions . . . empty of content.'' For George Bush, he laments, ``it is always 1939, the year of The Wizard of Oz . . . .'' Illustrated with film clips and family photographs, Vidal's reminiscences include candid vignettes of his entrepreneurial father, who was Franklin Roosevelt's director of air commerce, and his hard-drinking mother, a thrice-married flapper. His scattershot broadside ranges from a vitriolic profile of FDR to an analysis of TV coverage of the Persian Gulf war. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/1992
Release date: 09/01/1992
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