Callow, who portrayed Mozart in the play Amadeus, seems to have studied every extant foot of Laughton film, read everything printed about the actor and to have talked at length with a great many people who knew him well. The result is a fully realized portrait of an intellectually and temperamentally complex man and at the same time an illuminating analysis of the art and craft of acting itself. Callow's enthusiasm is infectious: readers will wish to see, or see again, The Private Life of Henry VIII, Mutiny on the Bounty, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and many other movies in which Laughton appeared, including Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidda low point in his career but nonetheless a great performance, according to Callow. Laughton's odd 30-year marriage to Elsa Lanchester and his homosexuality are sympathetically discussed, along with his fortuitous associations with Bertolt Brecht, producer Paul Gregory, Robert Mitchum and other relationships not so fortuitous. This is a theater biography of the first rank, written with elegance, wit and psychological probity. Photos. (April)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1988 Release date: 04/01/1988 Genre:
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