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

Friday, September 20, 2013


THE REDGRAVES: A Family Epic. Donald Spoto. Crown; 2012.

This is a solid and highly interesting -- and rather depressing -- look at a famous theatrical family. The first -- and most compelling -- half of the book looks at patriarch Michael Redgrave, who fathered three children but whose main passion was for men, and had boyfriends all during his marriage, some of whom could be considered long-time partners. The second half of the book looks more closely at the lives and careers of Redgrave's daughters Vanessa and Lynn, and son, Corin, all of whom became actors. Redgrave's wife, actress Rachel Kempson, eventually took a lover of her own, but he was also attracted to men, and Vanessa's husband, director Tony Richardson, was also homosexual [these men were "bisexual" in the sense they also had relationships with women, if for no other reason than appearances, but their main interest was men]. All of this old-fashioned shame and guilt from closet cases gets wearying after awhile, even if the time period was pre-Stonewall [the advent of modern day Gay Liberation]. The Redgraves does not ignore the careers and achievements of these individuals, however, and also looks into the lives of Nastasha Richardson [Tony and Vanesssa's daughter, who died tragically young] and Jemma Redgrave, another very talented actress. Spoto weaves an excellent tapestry of changing attitudes toward both actors and gays, with a theatrical and film world background providing added atmosphere.

Verdict: Well-done and a very good read. ***1/2.

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