- Copertina flessibile: 346 pagine
- Editore: Iuniverse Inc (11 ottobre 2005)
- Lingua: Inglese
- ISBN-10: 0595370802
- ISBN-13: 978-0595370801
- Peso di spedizione: 476 g
Gloria Jean: A Little Bit of Heaven (Inglese) Copertina flessibile – 11 ott 2005
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Scott MacGillivray is the author of Castle Films: A Hobbyist?s Guide, Laurel & Hardy: From the Forties Forward, and (with Ted Okuda) The Soundies Distributing Corporation of America. Jan MacGillivray is an editor and reviewer whose feature articles have appeared in Filmfax Magazine and in newspapers. The MacGillivrays live in Massachusetts.
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A Little Bit of Heaven is a wonderful read that breezes right along. The authors certainly did their homework, and had access to the best resource herself: Gloria Jean! As the back of the book points out, much of what you'll read are in the words of Ms. Jean herself, and the book is all the better for it. In fact, it reads so easily, that at times I felt as if I was having a conversation with the actress! There are some great stories, and great memories of Bing Crosby, W.C. Fields (I won't give too much away, but apparently Fields really did drink a lot-it wasn't all an act!), and Groucho Marx.
If you have an interest in classic Hollywood, do yourself a favor and pick up A Little Bit of Heaven. It is a wonderful, insightful biography handled by very capable authors. Mr. MacGillivray is also the author of a book detailing the later lives and career of Laurel and Hardy that I plan on reading in the near future. If it is as good as A Little Bit of Heaven, I'll be in for a treat! In the mean time, check out some of Gloria Jean's movies and discover (or rediscover) a very talented and beautiful entertainer!
FOOTNOTE: Gloria's only color film, Wonder Valley filmed in Arkansas in 1952 at 73mins, is unviewable today due to the producer's copy(all that is known) being badly deteriorated.
She was in a lot of films, so remarks specific to films cover from 80 to 120 pages in the book.
One thing the reader might regret would be to hear about films that they have never seen. Some of these films are available from sources, well let me refer you to references in the IMDB database regarding her movies. I don't want to advertise videos in this review. But in the end, one problem the reader may discover is that they will wish that they saw the films in a very high quality state, which may not be available any more. Some of these films are lost and not available or a really good copy which would match her talent is not out there to be seen.
That being the case, there is some bittersweet memories or perhaps the lack of being able to even have them, when reading about some movies, if you've never seen them. The author makes every effort to describe the movies in details and the plots of each movie are talked about in detail (with spoilers). This helps the reader understand the movie as well as it could be understood by a written narration. That understanding unfortunately is not as good as experiencing the movie by watching it. So for those who have seen her movies and are her fans the book will have greater value than those unfamiliar with her or her films.
It's interesting and a candid account however from the inside of a movie star who had their ups and downs. And it would appear that the downside was not really due to her own fault or some "personal demon" that you'd read about when reading the accounts of many film stars. She seems to be a real nice girl and lady who kept herself from the corrupting influences of hollywood and her waning popularity was more of a matter of a changes in the movie industry and a focus on different types of actors than anything of her own doing.
This leaves the reader with a feel good feeling about the star rather than some wonderment and awe at how wild a star may be due to their fame. I wrote this review after reading most of her book. I have not read the last few chapters yet, but will finish it soon. Not bad and it would have been nice if she would have gone on in movies for a longer period of time, but these things happen and sometimes the public is the ones who lose when old movies are forgotton or not widely shown. The fickle new public often looses the ability or desire to watch the older treasures from any age and ends up missing something.
Her career really wasn't a tragedy that some might think, she just had an early popular career and it peeked fairly quickly and this was in an age when most stars didn't make a killing with huge movie deals. So when the star ride was over, it was pretty much over and she returned to a normal life. Pretty typical for most child stars, but she had a longer career and wasn't just a child star. Although it seemed that Hollywood treated her as such and didn't appreciate her enough. That's the overall impression I get reading the book.
This volume is an engaging blend of biography, autobiography, show biz history, and film analysis. Gloria Jean's comments regarding her life and career (in movies, television, radio, concerts and live theater) are consistently fascinating; she possesses a real gift for storytelling, and brings a vibrant, you-are-there immediacy to each anecdote. (Additionally, Bonnie Schoonover, Gloria's younger sister, provides some of her own keen observations.) Gloria doesn't look back with bitterness; if some individuals come across in an unflattering light (and some do), it's simply a matter of documenting how that person's unfortunate behavior had an impact on Gloria's career. On the other hand, Gloria is quick to praise those who deserve it...and that includes familiar names such as Bing Crosby, Groucho Marx, and W. C. Fields.
Gloria's insight as a show business veteran is neatly complemented by the writing/research skills of her biographers. The MacGillivrays combine an obvious (and infectious) affection for their subject with their exhaustive knowledge of the entertainment industry in general and Gloria Jean in particular. Readers will be amazed by the wealth of never-before-published material on each one of Gloria's movies...including production histories, summaries, critiques, reviews, theatrical and home-movie reissues, aborted projects, and lost films. The result is a meticulously detailed, well-organized and highly enlightening volume brimming with information that will surprise even the most seasoned film buff. (Has anyone ever detailed the production histories of WONDER VALLEY and LAFFING TIME prior to this?)
The book contains an equally impressive gallery of rare photographs: charming candid shots of Gloria with W. C. Fields, Donald O'Connor, and Elizabeth Taylor; Gloria posing with Boris Karloff and makeup master Jack Pierce; Gloria feeding birthday cake to Sabu; and even frame enlargements from screen tests and obscure films. (One of my favorite photos is a wildly incongruous shot of little Gloria posing with the giant robot from the Bela Lugosi serial THE PHANTOM CREEPS.)
The only disappointing aspect about this enterprise has nothing to do with the book itself. After reading about the movies, I was dismayed to learn that the majority of Gloria's films never made it to video, nor do they turn up on television anymore. Sure, NEVER GIVE A SUCKER AN EVEN BREAK (starring W. C. Fields), her best known movie, rates an occasional TV broadcast, and COPACABANA (starring Groucho Marx and Carmen Miranda) is currently available on DVD, but THE UNDER-PUP, DESTINY, A LITTLE BIT OF HEAVEN, RIVER GANG, I'LL REMEMBER APRIL, I SURRENDER DEAR and the rest are missing-in-action, languishing in the film vaults. Her work deserves to be made widely accessible.
A handsome, smartly produced volume, GLORIA JEAN: A LITTLE BIT OF HEAVEN is a winner all the way. At last, Gloria's story has been documented in a manner worthy of her, and even if you're not already a fan, you'll find this book is much more than just "a little bit" of Heaven.