Friday, December 18, 2015

Book review - "Memoirs of a Cad" by George Sanders (1960)

No one played a cad better than George Sanders, and whenever I read about what he was like in real life (notably the profile on him in David Niven's memoirs), he always seems so entertainingly close to how he appeared on screen - charming, witty, lazy, keen to seduce women/not work, depressive.

This memoir is all those things - it's like been regaled by Sanders at some hotel bar or dinner party with various stories about his life and view on the world. It covers briefly his childhood in Russia (to an aristocratic family - something he always gave the impression of); his youth in England; experimenting with a few different careers before moving into acting; establishing himself relatively quickly as a character actor and occasional star who was never out of work.

I was looking forward to chats about Hitchcock, Forever Amber and so on but he rarely discusses his movies - even All About Eve only gets a small mention. He does devote a bit of time to adventures working with Roberto Rossellini in Italy and another movie in Spain, plus a long section on making Solomon and Sheba and Tyrone Power's death (I guess it was fresh in the audience' memory at the time).

Zsa Zsa Gabor gets plenty of mentions; he writes about her with a great deal of exasperated affection. He is sweet on the subject of Betina Hume and mentions Laird Cregar's attempt at dieting.  A few sections feel like newspaper or magazine articles on various topics which have been shoved into the memoir. Sanders likes to end chapters quoting poetry and frequently talks about his enthusiasm for music and musicals.

This won't satisfy you if you are looking for a more indepth autobiography but it is entertaining.

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