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

Thursday, February 23, 2012


LEARNING TO LIVE OUT LOUD. Piper Laurie. Crown; 2011.

Autobiographies of second and third tier celebrities are often worthless because the author is too interested in settling scores or vomiting bitterness over being overlooked, ignored, or hidden behind a bushel, but luckily this is not the case with Laurie, who has several Oscar nominations to her credit and once again became a sought after actress after her initial Hollywood period [although she refers to herself as a "star," which may technically be correct, she never exactly had the career of say, a Joan Crawford]. Laurie had a difficult childhood, but became closer to her parents in later years. She writes of her sexual experiences with Ronald Reagan and Mel Gibson [one would think some women would now be embarrassed to admit they'd had sex with those two!], her affairs with director John Frankenheimer and others, and her marriage to a movie critic, Joe Morgenstern. She writes with admirable candor of her personal life, and doesn't neglect her film or television career, either. Laurie struggled against an indifferent studio system which apparently saw her as little other than superficial cheesecake and had to fight to gain respect as an actress. She had a comeback of sorts in Brian De Palma's film version of Carrie, which led not just to other macabre assignments but more "serious" work as well. Occasionally, Laurie seems to pull back from total truth; surely there was more behind the break up of her marriage to Morgenstern than what she writes. She appeared in The Thornbirds but either never met star Barbara Stanwyck or chooses not to write about her. Some fans may be disappointed that she makes absolutely no mention of working with Italian director Dario Argento on his grotesque but rather excellent Trauma [if anything, Laurie's character is even more horrible than the mother in Carrie.] Still this is a very well-written and surprisingly absorbing read from a Hollywood, theater, and TV insider who was around for the studio system and the Golden Age of Television and writes intelligently about all of it.

Verdict: A worthwhile read. ***1/2. 

No comments: