Joseph Losey

Joseph Losey : A Revenge on Life

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Renowned for his mastery of light, texture, and pace, Joseph Losey was one of our most innovative and controversial directors--and perhaps our most star-crossed. Blacklisted during the McCarthyite fifties, Losey fled to Britain, where he achieved international acclaim with his 1963 film The Servant, starring Dirk Bogarde and Sarah Miles. That film marked the beginning of Losey's remarkable collaboration with the playwright Harold Pinter; it was followed by Accident, regarded by many as Losey's finest film, and The Go-Between, awarded the Palm d'Or at Cannes. It appeared that the Hollywood exile would enjoy a long reign as the savior of British cinema. But his gifts ultimately failed him, limited by his bleak vision of life and the battle between the sexes. Ranging from Losey's beginnings with experimental theatre in New York to his death in 1984 at the age of 75, author David Caute provide a compelling portrait of a hugely driven talent, whose creative generosity, alcohol addiction, and often brutal egotism continue to elicit fierce and wildly divergent reactions. Drawing on candid interviews with Losey's associates and members of his casts and crews, Caute sheds important light on Losey's personal life, especially his ambivalent relationship with his mother Ina, a manipulatively flirtatious woman whom Caute believes inspired the lifelong hostility towards women which surfaces unrelentingly in Losey's 31 films, as it did throughout his four marriages and countless affairs. Caute includes a provocative chapter probing Losey's turbulent relationships with his female stars, from Jeanne Moreau to Jane Fonda. Losey emerges as a man whose life and career grew increasingly marred by deep contradictions. On the one hand, Losey was the first director to stage a Bertolt Brecht play in English, and at great personal risk accompanied the German playwright to his appearances before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Nonetheless, the same Losey refused to fly without a seat in first class, and loved to flaunt his Cartier watch, a gift from Elizabeth Taylor. Tracing the growing excess that crept into Losey's personal and professional life following the success of his films with Pinter, Caute reveals how the increasingly baroque style of Losey's later work, coupled with his corrosive pessimism, disappointed many who had admired not only his innovative camera work, but the austere social messages of his early films. London's Sunday Express calls A Revenge on Life "meticulously researched, beautifully written....An object lesson in biography...among the very best works in this genre." And Dirk Bogarde, who collaborated with Losey on five of his best films, said of the book's treatment of Losey, "It has left me with jaw agape. This is the old friend that I did not know but always suspected might be lurking about." Raising important questions about talent, ambition, and the art of film-making, A Revenge on Life is as illuminating as it is absorbing.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 608 pages
  • 162.56 x 241.3 x 58.42mm | 1,065.94g
  • Oxford University Press, USA
  • United States
  • English
  • 0195064100
  • 9780195064100

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8 ratings
3.87 out of 5 stars
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4 62% (5)
3 25% (2)
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