Friday, October 08, 2010

Book review – “Noel Coward Diaries” by Noel Coward

Noel Coward created many fabulous performances, songs, plays, scripts, etc - but few of them matched the fabulousness of his life. A constant whirl of hard work, travel, parties, theatre going, film going, moving around the globe... This diary is an enormously entertaining account of his life from World War Two to 1969, when he found out he was going to be knighted (he died a few years later). He starts on a massive career high: the war was the time of Blithe Spirit, In Which We Serve and Brief Encounter, plus his famous tours - but when peacetime came things were a bit more difficult. There were a few flops and fizzes - but he kept banging away, working hard, turning out plays and books and stories, etc. He enjoyed massive success as a cabaret entertainer and some medium size play hits - although none of his post-war work seems to have reached his pre-war highs. He also turned down an astonishingly high number of roles in films/shows that became classics: The King and I, My Fair Lady, Dr No, Lolita, The Bridge on the River Kwai. His diary is often witty, always fascinating - like a lot of people who've worked since they were a child he was very conservative. Always interesting to read his take on other plays and films (eg he wasn't a fan of the Angry Young Men, but he did like Pinter). A delight.

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