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Payn, who performed as an actor and singer in several Coward plays, lived with the playwright as part of his extended family for 30 years and now administers his estate. Written with Barry Day, an advertising executive, this effusively affectionate memoir of Coward (1899-1973), best known for his sophisticated comedies (Blithe Spirit, Private Lives), is a giddily gossipy account of the luminary's long theatrical career and glittering social life. Renowned actors-Beatrice Lillie, Gertrude Lawrence, Laurence Olivier and Lunt and Fontaine-performed in Coward plays and were also friendly with Payn. Drawing on Coward's diaries and his own recollections, Payn reveals some unflattering details and settles a few scores (e.g., Rex Harrison was tiresome offstage, and Beatrice Lillie forgot her lines). The memoir includes a transcript of a 1961 conversation between Coward and Judy Garland, as well as previously unpublished essays by Coward on the theater. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Although it occupied a short span of his writing career, Greene's stint as a film reviewer had a lasting influence on other film writers. This volume gathers Greene's reviews, along with essays, lectures, and letters on film. As with critic James Agee, the reviews are valuable for insights into Greene's aesthetic credos, even though many of the films reviewed are obscure and difficult to find today. As an unusual number of Greene's novels were filmed, the book includes several Greene film treatments, and a listing of all films made from Greene's fiction. Although many of these films are considered classics, sadly, Greene seemed to have lost interest in films in later life. The editor explains that for Greene, film "which had hitherto guaranteed a way of escape, were now something to be escaped from." More wide-ranging than Graham Greene on Film (LJ 1/1/73), this work is recommended for academic and large film collections.-Stephen Rees, Bucks Cty. Free Lib., Levittown, Pa.