cover image Studio Affairs

Studio Affairs

Vincent Sherman. University Press of Kentucky, $35 (344pp) ISBN 978-0-8131-1975-5

Sherman directed 30 films from 1939 to 1961, earning a solid reputation as a director who delivers the goods, among them such late-night mainstays as Mrs. Skeffington, The Hard Way and The Young Philadelphians. That reputation is borne out by this sturdy, if not stylish, memoir of the day-to-day business of directing during the heyday of the studio system. The title is a wink to Sherman's romantic flings with three of his leading ladies: Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Rita Hayworth. (""As she walked away from me, nude, the cigarette in her hand, her two well-rounded buttocks moving in tandem with the Bette Davis hip swivel, I could not help but be amused."" ) More compelling than these kiss-and-tells are the book's opening chapters, in which the hopeful playwright/actor makes his way from Georgia to Hollywood, with fascinating detours such as his collaboration with an alcoholic Sinclair Lewis. Sherman finally gets a shot at directing for Warner Brothers with a ""B"" horror flick, The Return of Dr. X. From there, his story moves from film to film and star to star in predictable fashion. Although one would like more passion in his account of being graylisted in the McCarthy era, and more comedy in the comedy of errors that was his last movie, Cervantes (The Young Rebel), this is a workmanlike job by an admirably hard worker. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Sept.)