Al Bowlly’s name is emerging from the shadows as reissued recordings show him to have been one of the loveliest vocalists of the Big-Band era, and not not just in his UK homeland. Credited with making over 1000 records, his life was a bit of a rollercoaster ride and his tragic death during the London blitz robbed the world of one of its finest crooners way too soon. Thank goodness for those recordings, not to mention gorgeous film like this; as Ray Noble said, “never mind him making you cry, he could make himself cry!”
My life in vaudeville : the autobiography of Ed Lowry edited and with an introduction by Paul M. Levitt
Ed Lowry is not a name I’m familar with, but his involvement with American vaudeville during its final great decades in the 1920s and 30s (struggling against the rise of cinema) is all the more interesting because of his position as a jobbing vaudevillian, rather than a big star. He is a shrewd yet sympathetic observer of the hard grind that made up the vaudeville circuit, and his move into the world of the USO shows during World War II and the Korean conflict was clearly deeply informed by his earlier stage career. Those were the days!
American film director Richard Donner will probably always be best remembered for Superman: The Movie, which virtually invented the modern superhero film and introduced the charming talents of Christopher Reeve to the movie going public. He does of course have many other extraordinarily successful films to his name as both a producer and director, not to mention a latter day career as a writer for comic books following on from his close association with the Superman mythos. But it’s his battles with the producers of the Superman films and their aftershocks that recur tellingly throughout this informative and sympathetic biography and filmography.
Funny how some performers, big names in their day, fade somewhat from view no matter how much work they did or, in Susan Hayward’s case, how many films they made. An undeniably fine actress with a string of Academy Award (and other) nominations, her filmography is full of fine things but no big, knockout film that might have cemented her position in a very fickle public’s imagination; she was one of many unsuccessful applicants for the role of Scarlett O’Hara. This warm and personal biography is a fitting tribute to an actress who deserves to be much better known today.