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

Thursday, December 13, 2012


ANTHONY PERKINS: A HAUNTED LIFE. Ronald Bergan. Little, Brown; 1995. UK.

This is a solid biography of the actor who became most famous for the role of Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, and who regretted it until embracing it and doing three sequels to the film, one of which he directed [Psycho 3]. There are details on Perkin's stage and film career, his recordings [he had a passable if uninspiring singing voice and appeared in more than one Broadway musical], his romantic parts which were nothing like Norman, and his follow-up "twitchy" psychotic roles in such films as Edge of Madness and others. Perkins was actively homosexual but never accepted himself as such, becoming what today we would call an "ex-gay." In middle age he married the apparently clueless Berry Berenson [who tragically died on 9/11 years after her husband's death from AIDS], who was boyishly built, resembled one of Perkin's ex-lovers, and lived with him in the same house with Perkin's boyfriend Grover Dale and Dale's new beard/wife! Still, unlike other "ex-gays," Perkins never made any public negative pronouncements on the gay lifestyle. The author quotes numerous "friends" of Perkins -- possibly closet cases themselves -- who applaud Perkin's sham marriage and homophobically cite it as proof of his new maturity when it may have been the most  immature thing the actor ever did [of course he continued sleeping with men after his marriage, which his wife claimed to know absolutely nothing about]. Two children resulted from the marriage, which was probably more of a loving friendship than anything else. Like the marriage, Anthony Perkins: A Haunted Life is not completely satisfying, but it is not without merit.

Verdict: Interesting study of the life and career of a talented if troubled and delusional actor. ***.

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