The Good, the Bad, and Me: In My Anecdotage Hardcover – May 9 2005
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.
From Publishers Weekly
Wallach has the right and the title to discourse at length on method acting and the Actor's Studio, where he was a charter member, but instead hews tightly to his book's subtitle. A string of often funny and charming memories of his interactions with fellow actors and eclectic directors (in particular, spaghetti Western director Sergio Leone), his book is engagingly frank and personable. Because Wallach, known for his work in Tennessee Williams's Broadway productions as well as for his roles as memorably suspicious rascals, was taught by such cultural icons as Martha Graham and Lee Strasberg, his memoir is also a valuable source on 20th-century American culture. The author, however, is a cultural treasure in his own right: born Jewish in 1915 in an Italian section of Brooklyn, he headed off for the University of Texas at Austin during the Great Depression on a ship and became a medic overseas in WWII. From early struggles with auditions and bouts of hubris onstage, Wallach emerged to become one of America's most prolific, restlessly inventive and enduring actors (at 88, he took an uncredited role in 2003's Mystic River as Mr. Loonie, the liquor store owner). His insights and recollections of the acting life outweigh the book's pat and perfunctory conclusion. 8-page b&w photo insert not seen by PW. Agent, Marly Rusoff & Associates. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This memoir by one of Hollywood's quieter stars adopts the tone of a what-I-did-on-my-summer-vacation paper--except that Wallach's summer encompasses his nearly 90-year life. In a straightforward and witty style, he tells his story, from a Brooklyn childhood as the only Jew in an Italian neighborhood, through Actors Studio days with Brando and others, and on to his long and illustrious career on both stage and screen. The anecdotes come one after the other, about actors and roles but also about his personal life, including his more than 50-year marriage to fellow actor Anne Jackson. Most fascinating is the story of how Wallach was forced to choose between taking a role in the Tennessee Williams play Camino Real on Broadway, directed by the legendary Elia Kazan, or playing Maggio (the Frank Sinatra role) in From Here to Eternity). Wallach's love of theater drove him to Kazan, despite the director's having recently named names to the House Un-American Activities Committee. While many readers will associate Wallach with his roles in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and The Magnificent Seven, this compelling memoir shows the full range of a remarkable actor's life. Mary Frances Wilkens
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Browse and search another edition of this book.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Wallach is one of those people who savors every moment of life --and for that reason he does a great job of relating what he has experienced. His appreciation of his beautiful, talented and witty wife, Anne Jackson, makes this a triply delightful read. How great it must be to not only get the last word, but to have your husband treasure it and then share it with the world like a rare pearl!
I still don't want this to end. Perhaps the publishers could get a memoir from Anne Jackson and another book of acting wisdom by the two of them. Put me down for first editions!
The story is a love story, too--both of Wallach's love of the craft of acting and his love of his wife, Anne Jackson, and family. In a life that takes twists, turns, and zig-zags all over the creative and cartographic map of the world of stage and screen, you travel effortlessly through the pages with your "host" and get to know him well. Whether you're a fan of Mr. Wallach's great performances or merely a movie buff who wants to know "the way it was" in the golden age or a theater fan looking for Broadway anecdotage, you'll be satisfied with this perfect autobiography--and if you're an actor or know one seeking to "break in" to the business, this book should provide lots of inspiration and hope, too.
There are many showbiz memoirs in print--I've never read one with as much content for BOTH "fans" and professionals as this one. Buy it, enjoy it, and buy it for a friend or two, too.
The book's tone is set by the prologue, in which Wallach sets out to research the role of gangster Albert Anastasia for a guest appearance in a TV series, and learns that he has a much closer connection with the crime boss's family than he suspected. Several chapters then detail Wallach's Jewish upbringing in sepia-toned Brooklyn (just six miles from where two of my grandparents were doing the same thing in East New York).
I found myself equally captivated by Wallach's stories of growing up, and his tales of working on an impressive body of theatrical and film work. Entire chapters are given over to "The Misfits" and "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly". Wallach spends lots of time discussing his (often better-known) co-stars, ranging from Clark Gable to Marlon Brando to Sir John Gielgud to a very young Alan Arkin. No-one is insulted; particularly warm, extended looks at Marilyn Monroe and Clint Eastwood are featured. The tone is very pleasant and inviting.
Written in a very simple, direct writing style, with no credited co-author, this autobiography will not require much of your time, but will leave you with lots of anecdotes to re-tell. Based on the time frame presented, a sequel is theoretically in the offing. I will update my wish list accordingly.
As one of the original "method" actors his experience and resume are valuable to read, for film, theatre and especially acting lovers. 90 year old character actors don't usually put out biographies. And it is also important to note that his success as an actor, on film, TV and the stage was achieved as a father and husband. To me that is as admirable as anything.
His writing and attitude clarify his success too. His fondnesses and compassion, appreciations and praise are fullsome here. It is little wonder why he has worked for so long, and is still going.
It is wise to note the sub-title In My Anecdotage, as Wallach, while staying mostly chronological, highlights certain markers in his career. Usually these are congruous with what he is know for: Baby Doll; The Magnificent Seven; The Misfits and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. The details of these films are fun to read, i.e, the controversial Baby Doll seduction scene's off-screen realities, Yul Brunner and McQueen's competetiveness during Seven, etc. Of course, the pecularities and idiosyncracies of The Misfits is detailed, making for an excellent chapter on being in the middle of a production storm amidst Monroe, Clift and Clark Gable-a man whom Wallach holds very dear...
Some other goods are that Wallach was offered the role of Maggio in From Here to Eternity, but declined it to do Tennessee Williams' Camino Real. Ever after Sinatra would have a limo pick Jackson and Wallach up to bring them to shows in NY. The bridge explosion from The Good, The Bad was actually the second bridge, how his hat from Seven originated, who once baby sat his children, etc.
As of this review Mr. Wallach has another film coming out in with Diane Keaton later in 2007. An amazing career for a true first class (character) actor.
As I said earlier, I appreciate the perspective of actors like Eli Wallach. Likewise I'd love to read about actors like: Lee J. Cobb, Warren Oates, Thelma Ritter, Christopher Plummer, Donald Sutherland, Peter Boyle, John Cazale, J.T. Walsh, etc. etc. Long (save Cazale) and impressive careers, experience with some of the greatest directors, actors and films ever, but very little is known....
The high anecdote content of Wallach's book means that you can clap it shut just about anytime you like, because anecdotes are meant to be followed by a pause of a few moments' duration, like a tacit bar in a musical score, allowing readers time to chuckle or reflect or take a sip of restorative. Under no circumstances would anyone want to interrupt the author in mid-anecdote. He's a richly gifted raconteur who could draw a crowd just by telling about the last time he had his teeth cleaned.
And of course, after an anecdote ends, it isn't long before another one begins. (Brilliant!) Was it Wallach who said, "I got a million of 'em!"?
Despite his long and successful career, Wallach is possessed of sufficient humility to accept the fact that in some of his stories he plays only a minor role. When he talks about working with Charles Laughton, for example, he recognizes that it's Wallach telling about working with Laughton, not the other way around. Likewise, some of the most entertaining bits are his recollections of Tennessee Williams, Marilyn Monroe, Arthur Miller, Yul Brenner, Elia Kazan, and many others.
But he also knows when to focus on himself, as he does in a story about Eva Le Gallienne's Broadway production of Alice in Wonderland. She had chosen the young Wallach to play the role of a duck --- not a part that he had coveted, though he was following in the webbed-footsteps of Burgess Meredith. Nor was he reconciled on opening night as he watched fellow actors who were more comfortably costumed and had speaking parts, while he could only quack.
As often happens in such situations, things took a turn for the worse. The caterpillar around whose mushroom Alice would dance and sing in an upcoming scene had failed to report for duty, and Miss Le Gallienne elected to sacrifice the duck in the interest of a creature with lines. Though he was unhappy as a duck, Wallach balked at the change, so she ordered the stage manager to wrestle him out of the duck costume, stuff him into the caterpillar suit, and push him back onto the stage. From the wings she commanded: "Go out and play that caterpillar!" Wallach remarks a bit anticlimactically and perhaps unnecessarily that Miss Le Gallienne never thanked him for his "courageous" performance.
Arthur Miller called Wallach "the happiest good actor" he'd ever known. He was, after all, a kid from Brooklyn who wound up with the girl of his dreams, the actress Anne Jackson, and the only job he'd ever wanted. His book is so thoroughly permeated by his good-natured outlook on life that it might be a '30s musical.
--- Reviewed by H.V. Cordry
Look for similar items by category
- Books > Biographies & Memoirs > Arts & Literature > Actors & Actresses
- Books > Biographies & Memoirs > Arts & Literature > Entertainers
- Books > Biographies & Memoirs > Memoirs
- Books > Biographies & Memoirs > Reference & Collections
- Books > Humour & Entertainment > Movies > Biographies > Actors & Actresses