Spencer Tracy: A Life

James Curtis. Knopf, $38.95 (1,056p) ISBN 978-0-307-26289-9
Hollywood craziness claims the least "Hollywood” of stars in this massive, eye-opening biography. Onscreen, in Boys Town to Judgment at Nuremberg, Tracy (1900–1967), was the unflashy everyman imbued with stolid rectitude, all embodied in the understated, naturalistic style that made Tracy Hollywood's greatest actor. Offscreen, in Curtis's unflinching but unsensationalized account, it's the full neurotic, out-of-control movie-star turn: the epic drinking that halted productions and landed Tracy in jail and detox; the careful modulation of mood with Nembutal and Dexedrine; the bedding of starlets from Ingrid Bergman to Gene Tierney; the humiliating struggle with weight; the affectations (like an English toff, Tracy played polo). Curtis fingers Tracy's Catholic self-loathing and irrational guilt over his son's deafness and gives his relationship with Katharine Hepburn—he hit and perhaps choked her during drunken rages—a nuanced treatment. Still, this thoroughly researched, at times over-stuffed biography, gives us a rich and definitive portrait of the actor in all his baffling contradictions. Photos. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/25/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 384 pages - 978-0-09-178524-6
Open Ebook - 919 pages - 978-0-307-59522-5
Open Ebook - 1024 pages - 978-1-4481-0621-9
Paperback - 1001 pages - 978-0-09-954729-7
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