I’ve always wanted to settle into a candid, well-written biography of Hollywood uber-director Michael Curtiz, whose vigorous, efficient, well-honed direction of The Adventures of Robin Hood, Yankee Doodle Dandy and Casablanca made me perk up at an early age.
Now, it seems, that book has finally arrived — Alan K. Rode‘s “Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film” (University Press of Kentucky). Amazon says it’s been out since 10.16.17, but the promotional push is just starting to seep through.
I’ve been reading a sample section via Amazon. Spry and confident, pulsing with tasty quotes and catchy prose…anecdotes, side-shots (Curtiz was a hound), insights, ironies. An abundant, 698-page, six-course meal.
The Hungarian-born Curtiz had directed 64 films in Europe when he arrived in Hollywood in 1926, at age 38. He directed 102 films during his Hollywood career, most of them at Warner Bros.
HE’s Curtiz picks: Captain Blood, The Charge of the Light Brigade, Angels with Dirty Faces, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, The Sea Wolf, Dive Bomber, Captains of the Clouds, the afore-mentioned Robin Hood, Yankee Doodle Dandy and Casablanca (for which he won a Best Director Oscar), Mildred Pierce, Young Man with a Horn, Jim Thorpe — All-American, White Christmas (Paramount’s first VistaVision film), We’re No Angels, King Creole (arguably guiding Elvis Presley to his best-ever screen performance) and The Comancheros (which John Wayne finished directing when Curtiz’s cancer left him bedridden — Wayne naturally took no credit).
Alan K. Rode signing copies yesterday (Saturday 11.18) at Larry Edmunds Bookshop on Hollywood Blvd.