cover image Mainly about Lindsay Anderson

Mainly about Lindsay Anderson

Gavin Lambert. Alfred A. Knopf, $29.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-679-44598-2

""It was the differences that kept us close,"" writes novelist (Inside Daisy Clover) and film critic Lambert about his old friend, British film director Lindsey Anderson. Indeed, this loving narrative of Anderson's life and critique of his work is a beautifully written, thoughtful meditation on art, politics and sexuality. Writing as much about himself as his friend, Lambert has crafted a pungent, tell-nearly-all biography/memoir that deftly elucidates Anderson's troubled personal life and the genesis of his art. Lambert and Anderson met in the late 1930s, as teens, while attending a British school for those interested in the arts. They both went to Oxford and eventually began working in theater and film. Lambert moved to Hollywood in 1956, where he began having an affair with director Nicholas Ray (Rebel Without a Cause). Meanwhile, Anderson stayed in England, becoming a prominent player in the thriving 1960s theater scene and directing the plays of John Osborne, Joe Orton and David Story, as well as such pathbreaking films as This Sporting Life and If.... Lambert is forthright about his own sex life--from his first affair with a man at age 11, and his relationship with director Peter Brook, to his later liaisons--yet he's compassionate when detailing Anderson's inability to deal with his own sexuality, which often manifested itself as tormented ""crushes"" on heterosexual actors such as Albert Finny and Richard Harris. Without exploiting this sexual content, Lambert weaves it into a seamless narrative of how sexuality and eroticism are inseparable from the creation of art. Along the way, he gives us a perceptive study of the psychology of artists, a history of an exciting time in British filmmaking and a fine explication of Anderson's work. (Sept.)