Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


KAY FRANCIS: A PASSIONATE LIFE AND CAREER. Lynn Kear and John Rossman. McFarland Publishers; 2006.

A solid biography of the not-quite-forgotten movie star of the thirties and forties, Kay Francis. While this volume doesn't go into the individual movies too much, it does look at all the career and personal highlights of Francis' life, and -- via her diary -- notes many, many of her intimate relationships over the decades. What was the truth about her sexuality? The authors wisely note that "there is the possibility that Kay ... was reticent about writing about her lesbian activities in her diary ... It wouldn't be surprising that Kay occasionally edited certain activities from the written record." At times, with her excessive drinking and almost desperate bed-hopping with practically any male that came along -- not to mention several unsuccessful relationships -- Francis comes off like the female equivalent of a "Don Juan homosexual," hoping to find a man who'll finally convince her she's not a lesbian. Her writing in her diary that she slept with one woman only because the other woman wanted her to sounds a little disingenuous. Whatever the case, Kay Francis definitely made an impact on Hollywood style and on many of her peers and fans, as the authors of this very readable study make clear. Attractive and stylish, Francis may not have been a raving beauty in the classic sense, but she didn't exactly have to beg for dates. What comes across in this book is a woman of contradictions who wanted stardom and all it could bring to her (chiefly money) but who also had a disdain for the whole Hollywood lifestyle [not that she was alone in that] that informed many of her decisions.

Verdict: Good book about the not-so-forgotten Kay. ***.

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