Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Reading Manly Men Bios!

Ha, got you there! While I was in New Jersey I read Robert Mitchum's biography, "Baby, I Don't Care." What a character, this big sexy coolster, part Norwegian, part Indian, smarter than anyone would expect and hard to define. The book is a bit long (500+ pp) but you think about him long after it's done. One of the things people remembered about him the most, aside from his "I don't care" bohemianism, and his incredible face, was that he was a great story teller.

Last summer I was really intrigued by Raoul Walsh's autobiography,"Each Man in his Time" . As a child his parents entertained famous Broadway actor of the day Edwin Thomas Booth, brother of John Wilkes Booth whom Walsh was later to play in The Birth of a Nation (1915). They lived on a farm somewhere near Harlem and entertained all the most famous people of their day it seemed.

Being an autobiography, this book had a lot more insight into the life of a man who traveled with and filmed Pancho Villa in Mexico, and had stories that were just breathtaking. He didn't seem happy except when he was making a movie. He was a director for 50+ years!

Robert Mitchum and Raoul Walsh intersect briefly in the 40's.

What got me thinking was this: both men were known for being great story tellers, both men were major figures in Hollywood history. Who's a great story teller anymore? Movies today have so little story line. People today rarely tell stories in social situations. Hmm, is there something here?

And that's actually the point of this post. I got to thinking.


stray said...

Reality TV seems to have replaced stories.... a great loss.

Linda said...

Thanks. Now I'm going to be singing The Ballad of Thunder Road all week again: The law they swore they'd get him but the devil got him first. This is a great song, why shouldn't I sing it all week long?

Mean Jean said...

Robert Mitchum makes me hot. Always has.

We tell stories. My grandpa told stories, our friend Don tells stories.

Sally said...

I think Southerners are more likely still to tell stories. Oh yeah, Mean Jean, I hear ya.

Jane said...

No one does creepy better than Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter. So many great roles and characters.... Thanks for the recommendation on these bios.

booda baby said...

Pft. I'd apologize, but this is just how it works for me. I read a blog and think: ooh. I'd better go think about that and then nine billion days go by.

I had to go think about this. There will always be people to tell stories. What's in short supply are the ones who will listen.

I'm lucky to have lived in Europe for a long time and although it's probably changing there, too, there is still great value placed on the art of conversation. I think stories - the telling and the listening - need that space where all parties actually savor the trade.

That's my opinion and I'm sticking with it. :)

Namowal said...

Stray is right about reality T.V. pushing out a lot of stories
I know a few story tellers- and some are quite good at it.
Was listening to a lot of N.P.R. at work and kept finding myself fascinated with the stories people told.
For example, one person found dozens of letters scattered in the middle of nowhere, all written to the same woman some 50 yeas previously. Who was she? Why all the letters? How did they end up there? It was oddly intriguing.

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