As Time Goes by

As Time Goes by : Memoirs of a Writer

3.75 (4 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Hardback
By (author) 

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Product details

  • Hardback | 220 pages
  • 147.32 x 213.36 x 27.94mm | 476.27g
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P
  • New York, United Kingdom
  • Ill.
  • 0151097690
  • 9780151097692

Review Text

Sketchy, rather sour, intermittently engaging reminiscences - from the scriptwriter who slapped together Orson Welles' 1938 War of the Worlds radio sensation, was then catapulted to Hollywood, and never really re-established his career after being blacklisted ten years later. Oddly, the liveliest memories here are pre-Hollywood: Koch's comic failures as a young Westchester lawyer, his fledgling attempts as a B'way playwright, and his whirlwind teaming with Welles and John Houseman. Once transported to the writers' stable at Warner Brothers, however, the energy flags, and the format becomes mostly film-by-film - with disappointingly little about Casablanca ("conceived in sin and born in travail") and a few pages each for Sergeant York (Koch can't quite accept its pro-war theme any more), The Letter (croquet with Bette Davis), and Max Ophuls' resurrected masterpiece, Letter from an Unknown Woman. Singled out for fuller discussion is Mission to Moscow, the FDR-backed, pro-Soviet semi-documentary that provoked steamy controversy; Koch maintains that it was no whitewash. It was left-wing causes, however, that got Koch blacklisted. Branded one of the "unfriendly 19" (not one of the Hollywood Ten, whose Fifth-Amendment stand he opposed), he never had to testify but refused either to pay a bribe to a HUAC lawyer or renounce his views. So, after that: work abroad, no poverty or apparent misery, and a fairly quick de-blacklisting. But Koch has done little film work in the past 20 years (his last was The Fox, ruined, he says, by miscasting and a crass producer) - and there's a quiet bitterness here, a lack of humor or generosity. (Among his colleagues, only John Huston and wife Anne emerge with any brio at all.) Far from exuberant, then, with only a few delights for film buffs and even fewer for the general reader. (Kirkus Reviews)
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4 ratings
3.75 out of 5 stars
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3 50% (2)
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