Sixty Three Years a Movie Fan
by Norman Olden. Book Guild Lewes. £12.50
Review by Anthony Jackman.
I was told of this book by a friend who
enclosed in his letter a couple of comments that made much of the 10,000 films that the
author had seen while referring to the cast lists and other details that had been
carefully recorded. Although I was excited that it would contain valuable references not
to be found easily elsewhere, I was wrong. The supposed lists and details that were
suggested by the letter were not actually in the book, making it of little use as a
reference work. Indeed the author's memory is sometimes as faulty as my own and his facts
are not always quite accurate. Emil Jannings
did not go to Hollywood to make Faust for instance.
Of course, the mistake was my own. The book
never purports to be anything more than a very personal record of an avid filmgoer and
this is a job that the book does very well, telling the reader more about the writer's
lifestyle and outlook than the films themselves. They are represented on the whole, merely
by title with possibly a date, a couple of names and occasionally a comment or two, of
which incidentally, I disagreed with.
Many People, myself included, love to
recognise pieces of their own memories in a book which usually includes places, people and
events. As with this author, readers can recall a time when they were younger and certain
events that occurred around the time of a film's release. This book is fine for such
nostalgic ramblings, but very little reference to the films themselves. What is
interesting are the few references to picture-houses long since pulled down, and the
mention of films, actresses and actors long forgotten.
The pictures of the film stars are very
good, having been excellently reproduced, and concentrating on those who made their names
predominantly in the Thirties. Also worth a mention are the Notes and Appendix. However,
to an afficionado the book is superficial and unsatisfying. Certainly a book to recieve as
a gift, but not one to go out and buy oneself.