Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Dirk's books

We have not done a Dirk Bogarde post for a while - he is one of our Patron Saints here after all, as per all the other posts on him. After my recent house move I was unpacking all those books of his ... who knew when I met him back in November 1970, when he was promoting DEATH IN VENICE and doing a lecture/Q&A at the BFI in London, when he was just starting on that decade in France, that he would go on to write 9 best-selling books of autobiography and 6 novels. There are several other books on him too ...
A POSTILLION STRUCK BY LIGHTENING in 1977 was his first book, a delightful and popular best-seller on his idyllic childhood on the Sussex downs. This was followed by SNAKES AND LADDERS in '78, still a terrific re-read on his early career and being the "Idol of The Odeons" and goes up to that move to France. AN ORDINARY MAN and BACKCLOTH continue the saga of life in Provence and his 1970s films, while the fascinating A SHORT WALK FROM HARRODS in 1993 covers the end of the French life, with illness and death and that return to Chelsea in London, and then his own stroke and recovery. GREAT MEADOW is another childhood memoir, and CLEARED FOR TAKE-OFF in 1995 is more tales of his career and some of the people he knew (like Ingrid Bergman and Capucine and the young Bardot). They are all here in these books, as Dirk certainly knew everyone including all those fascinating ladies like Kay Kendall, Garland, Ava, and all the new talent of the Fifties and Sixties he worked with.  
A PARTICULAR FRIENDSHIP is a charming memoir too of his pen-friend ship with an American woman who owned one of his houses - she did not know who Bogarde was but saw some pictures of the house in a magazine at the hairdressers and just had to write to him about it, leading to a long friendship until her death. FOR THE TIME BEING in 1998 (a year before he died) is a very interesting collection of his book reviews and columns for "The Times" from when he was back in London and doing regular reviews. 
I saw him again in 1992 at the National Theatre, reading from and discussing one of his memoirs then. 

His first novel A GENTLE OCCUPATION in 1980, remains his best for me, its very re-readable too and a fascinating story with great characters in that Far Eastern wartime setting; VOICES IN THE GARDEN amuses, the others are WEST OF SUNSET, JERICHO, PERIOD OF ADJUSTMENT and his final one CLOSING RANKS in 1997 which I have not read, but a copy is on its way to me. 

Books on Dirk are the 1974 THE FILMS OF DIRK BOGARDE by Margaret Hinxman and Susan D'Arcy; comprehensive up to THE NIGHT PORTER; Shreridan Morley's career and life overview in DIRK BOGARDE RANK OUTSIDER, and Robert Tanitch's DIRK BOGARDE: THE COMPLETE CAREER ILLUSTRATED, in 1988 all with great detail and photographs. He was certainly the most prolific and most-written about of the British stars of his era, as shown by the huge (600+ pages) authorised biography by John Coldstream (who commissioned Dirk to write for "The Times") followed by EVER, DIRK, a collection of his letters (500+ pages), edited by Coldstream. 
Two other delicious items I must mention are that 1958 Fan's Star Library little book on him - I collected them all and first had that when I was 12 ( still have the Sophia Loren one too), and one I acquired much later as a car boot sale: Dirk's Life Story in Pictures which is a priceless delight with all those illustrations. It explains Dirk's bachelorhood to the fans (this was 1958) with the relevation that he was really in love with Jean Simmons (his co-star in SO LONG AT THE FAIR in 1950) all along but she broke his heart by choosing Stewart Granger, leaving Dirk alone at his country estate ...... it also has a delicious take on Rock Hudson and his sham marriage - as covered before here, see Dirk comic strip label, for more. 
Interesting chapters on Dirk too in the biographies of actors like James Fox, Michael Craig, John Fraser and Michael York, on working and socialising with Dirk and of course Tony Forwood. 

No comments:

Post a Comment