Rod Steiger: Memoirs of a Friendship

Tom Hutchinson, Author, Ray Bradbury, Foreword by Fromm International $26 (235p) ISBN 978-0-88064-253-8
As an example of Rod Steiger's plainspoken bluntness, Hutchinson relates an incident in the early 1970s, when the actor used the word ""bloody"" while speaking to Queen Elizabeth II; Her Majesty was offended. Indeed, in Hutchinson's idiosyncratic rendering, Steiger's power as a performer is closely connected to his social nonconformity and desire to impart his own internal truth. Having grown up in a dysfunctional, alcoholic family in New Jersey and run off, underage, to join the navy during WWII, Steiger had few breaks when he began his acting career. But after studying method acting at the New School, he soon began getting roles on television and made a hit as the title character in Paddy Chayefsky's play Marty. (He later lost the role to Ernest Borgnine for the film version.) Once in Hollywood, Steiger became a popular character actor featured in villainous roles. By the late 1950s, he was known as ""one of the five most exciting actors in Hollywood,"" according to the author. Since then he has gone on to make fine films (such as The Longest Day), as well as a full ledger of second raters (such as Unholy Wife). Hutchinson (Niven's Hollywood), a film critic based in London, has been friends with Steiger for 30 years, and his affection for his subject shows through on every page. Unfortunately, his book, which relies heavily on personal anecdotes, film review quotations and biographies of other stars, is neither particularly insightful nor a comprehensive critical study. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-88064-277-4
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