Thursday, November 11, 2010
AGAINST TYPE: THE BIOGRAPHY OF BURT LANCASTER
AGAINST TYPE: THE BIOGRAPHY OF BURT LANCASTER. Gary Fishgall. 1995; Scribner.
A solid bio of Lancaster, who had a long and interesting career [more interesting than you might imagine, as this book reveals] and made many movies, including Trapeze, Sweet Smell of Success, Elmer Gantry, Birdman of Alcatraz, and many others. Fishgall describes how Lancaster got his start as a kind of acrobat, and used this early training for flamboyant performances in certain pictures. There may not seem to be enough personal detail in the book, but that's probably because Lancaster was, unlike some actors, rather private, and that, like many other stars, his career was essentially his life. Fishgall goes a bit into allegations of physical brutality against women and bisexuality [not to compare the two] -- more out of inclusiveness than sensationalism, one suspects -- but the evidence is too scanty to arrive at any conclusion, especially in the latter case. Against Type is well-written, well-researched and rather absorbing, not only a good bet for Lancaster's fans but for movie fans in general.
Verdict: Substantial bio of a star of long-standing. ***1/2.