The Missing Link Reviews

George Sanders,
An Exhausted Life

by Richard Vanderbeets. Madison Books. Hardback, 272 pages. Currently out of Print.

George Sanders, An Exhausted LifeIn truth, a biography was sorely needed to explain what made George Sanders tick. His autobiography "Memoirs of a Professional Cad" published in 1960 is more of an account of his observations of those around him rather than a work keen to blow his own trumpet. As expected, George writes in a very suave and witty manner with an aloofness and indifference to the inner workings of the film industry.

Vanderbeets' biography published in 1990 gives us a tremendous insight into George's unique persona with the aid of reminiscences from his friends in and out of the business including his former wives and the surviving members of his family who granted Vanderbeets access to George's private papers.

Acting was something George Sanders drifted into as a means to keep himself financially stable. After turning his hand to many professions, he was persuaded by Greer Garson to try for a part in her amateur theatrical troupe. This led to legitimate stagework and eventually to his brief film debut as the god "Indifference" in Korda's The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936). His other genre appearances before his Academy Award winning performance of a cynical theatre critic in ALL ABOUT EVE in 1951 include The Lodger (1944) and Hangover Square (1945) both starring Laird Cregar. Later in 1945 George appeared as Lord Henry Wotton in The Picture of Dorian Gray, a role that afforded him dialogue that drippedGeorge Sanders wonderfully with venom. George's other films from this period should not be overlooked...his dual role in LANCER SPY (1938), MR. MOTO'S LAST WARNING (1940) and of course, REBECCA (1940). George also became known for his appearances as "The Saint" in a series of films for RKO. that he described as the nadir of his career. He developed the character further by appearing as "The Falcon" in another film series which finally starred his brother Tom Conway when George became tired of the role.

From his affluent life as a child in Russia until a suicidal mixture of Nembutal and vodka ended his suffering in 1972, the life of this confused, articulate and highly intelligent man is painstakingly researched in this portrait of the consumate cad.


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