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Welcome to William Schoell's GREAT OLD MOVIES blog. Feel free to leave a comment regardless of the date the review was posted -- I read 'em all. Or if you prefer -- and especially if you have any questions directly for me -- email me at tawses67424@mypacks.net and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Click on a label link (labels can be found at the bottom of each post) to find other movies from that year, the star, that director or genre and so on. Or enter a title, director, genre, star or supporting player in the small Blogger "search blog" box at the far left up above and click search blog. [NOTE: While this blog mostly reviews films -- and TV shows -- that are at least twenty-five years old, we do cover films up until the present day.] HAVE FUN AND THANKS FOR DROPPING BY. William.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

SITTING PRETTY: The Life and Times of CLIFTON WEBB

SITTING PRETTY: The Life and Times of CLIFTON WEBB. Clifton Webb with David L. Smith. University Press of Mississippi; 2011.

Clifton Webb wrote several chapters of his memoirs, but never completed the project. In this excellent book those chapters are published for the first time, with annotations by David L. Smith, who not only fleshes out [and occasionally corrects] Webb's memories but adds the biography that forms the bulk of the book [with comments from Webb's notes included]. Far from being an overnight sensation, Webb had a long career as a dancer and actor before he hit it big in motion pictures and became a most unlikely movie star in middle age after appearing in Laura. He created the character of Mr. Belvedere in Sitting Pretty and its two sequels, was Barbara Stanwyck's husband and gave one of his all-time best performances in Titanic, played an aging silent movie star turned professor in Dreamboat with Ginger Rogers, and did many other movies, some more memorable than others [but he was always excellent]. Whatever his private life [Smith doesn't make any revelations in that regard or uncover a single relationship the man might have had except with his mother, Mabelle], people have always assumed Webb was (stereotypically) gay, and Smith perhaps tries too hard to refute that -- and is, frankly, unconvincing. But for Pete's sake, this is the 21st century -- would Smith think less of Webb if he were gay?! That is the only real flaw in an otherwise noteworthy tome. Whether you're reading Webb's own words, or Smith's, the actor comes across as a combination of a charming, urbane, sophisticated and cultured man and a precious, occasionally snooty "old queen," but in any case makes a witty and welcome companion for a couple of hours of reading pleasure.

Verdict: Gives Webb his due as an actor and entertainer. ***1/2.

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