Saturday, November 27, 2004

Dark Star

Finished reading Dark Star, by Leatrice Gilbert Fountain. I enjoyed this book a great deal, and would recommend it to anyone interested in the silent film era. This excellent, 1985 biography tells the story of the rise and fall of the silent film star John Gilbert. (This dashing actor was the star of such classics as The Merry Widow,The Big Parade and Flesh and the Devil. He also appeared in He Who Gets SlappedLa Boheme, and A Woman of Affairs. All together, his is a remarkable list of credits!) The author is the daughter of John Gilbert and Leatrice Joy, an actress who replaced Gloria Swanson as Cecil B. DeMille's leading lady in the 1920's.
It's stated that John Gilbert and Louise Brooks knew each other ("Louise, a fond friend of Jack's"), and the actress is referenced twice in the book. Once, it is in relation to an article that Beggars of Life author Jim Tully wrote about Gilbert. The second time it is in support of the author's contention that MGM was out to sabotage Gilbert's career based on the quality of his voice. (Brooks claimed a similar fate at the hands of Paramount.)
Leatrice Gilbert Fountain tells a sympathetic story in a convincing manner. Film historian Kevin Brownlow described the book as "A tragic and compelling story, essential to an understanding of this extraordinary actor."

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