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Book Name: Glenn Ford: A Life (Wisconsin Film Studies)

Author: Peter Ford

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Overall Rating: (4.4/5) View all reviews (total 5 reviews)

“Glenn Ford never got the respect he deserved for being a tough, straight-ahead actor who always had a way of rising to the occasion demanded by Fritz Lang or Vincente Minnelli. His son’s biography is a welcome tribute to a conflicted man and an often overlooked star.”—Scott Eyman, author ofPieces of My Heart "A frank portrait of a conflicted man and a respected star of Golden Age Hollywood. . . . Peter succeeds in objectively revisiting his father’s life and work while peeling back without fear the painful layers in their mutual history. . . . This biography should rank with Maria Riva’sMarlene Dietrichas one of the best examples of a family biography and should appeal to film scholars and film fans alike."—Library Journal“Glenn Ford was a perfect gentleman, educated and kind. When called upon to perform, he was a hell of an actor.”—Mickey Rooney


Tarnished Hero

by anthony romanovich

I was a big Fan of Glen Ford or I should say the type of character he represented in his movies. I was disappointed to find that he was too human

The inside scoop on an underated actor. .

by Jim Borger

I read books about movie people because I am interested in knowing the back story, how who got what role in which movie, how the movie was made, etc. I don't care who was sleeping with who but that is a part of the story. This book was written by Peter, his oldest child. Glenn Ford was one of my favorite actors but he didn't always choose the right roles for him. He could do drama and comedy but he was at his best in westerns, his personal favorite genre. Besides Ford's story you also get insight into the studio system that used to rule Hollywood.

A Stolen Life

by Kevin Killian

Glenn Ford, Glenn Ford, he's an actor few remember right now, though in his heyday he was a top box office star--the #1 world star in 1958. He has some fervent admirers, who claim that it wasn't his fault he was in so many terrible movies. Peter Ford, the only son of the actor, has written a tremendous book that works both as indictment and celebration of the studio system/ Columbia owned him pure and simple, and dictated what parts he would play and who would direct him. The first thirty or forty pictures that he made were pretty undistinguished, but they allowed him to learn his craft. They would have sunk a lesser man, but eventually he--and his phantom twin counterpart, William Holden, also a Columbia contract player--eventually Ford became a star, and viewers who liked him in Gilda (1944) didn't really care what he was in, they just wanted more of his tough guy ways.Ford was a man of the flesh, who believed in availing himself of the many offers he received from co-stars and lesser lights. It seems as though he fell in love often too, something of a Canadian romantic. His affairs with Geraldine Brooks and Hope Lange gave him more pain than pleasure. He was always on the make, and confided details of his lovemaking to his son, and the stories make for amazing reading. When he was young, for example, he played in a movie adaptation of one of Jack London's autobiographical novels. The studio brought in sixtyish Charmian London, Jack London's widow, to coach Glenn Ford, and Charmian liked what she saw. Love these cougar stories! In the 1950s he recalled John Barrymore's advice (that an actor should always go for the evil parts) and acquitted himself admirably, becoming one of the few leading men of noir to also enjoy a career as a good guy too. He seemed like he could flip easily. When just a nobody, or practically so, he had married one of the leading ladies of MGM musicals--the tap dancer Eleanor Powell, three years his senior, and soon enough he had slipped into a pattern where he could work his marriage for publicity reasons, and forget it when it wasn't convenient. Did he resent Powell for being (initially) the bigger star? He certainly treated her like a convenience. At the same time, his son grew up both resenting his dad for his cheating ways, while admiring him as a role model, and as a fine actor.Harry Cohn strung Glenn Ford along as hard as he could, promising him the top parts the studio had to offer in order to get Ford to sign on the dotted line one more time. And then he'd pull the rug out. So William Holden and Judy Holliday played in Born Yesterday, instead of Ford and Rita Hayworth; and Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr starred in From Here to Eternity, and not Ford and Hayworth. The reader starts to live in an alternate film universe, one in which Glenn Ford would have been in great movies, instead of so many sucky ones. Of course he played in some terrific movies, but I think no other great star had such a low percentage of critical successes. He was the Steven Seagal of--well, of the movies. Except he could act better. One of the best movie star biographies of recent years, GLENN FORD A LIFE has only one basic flaw, we never find out why Ford, the man who had everything, was such a cheap, vindictive creep to those who loved him best. It is a tale of pity and woe, without sentiment, nor transcendence.

Not exactly Daddy Dearest

by Linda K. Walker

Glenn Ford's son wrote what seems like a fair biography of a very selfish man and an emotionally absent father. The man gave many great film performances but seems to have left it all on film when it came to human warmth for anyone other than the current woman he was trying to seduce. Nothing in his upbringing explains this lack of empathy. Rita Hayworth did have a life long friendship outside of a working relationship but he was a hard man to know off the movie set.


by Nick Anez

Glenn Ford was one of Hollywood's most popular stars and one of its most versatile and underrated actors. He was also an admirable person. He was a loving husband and father. He was kind to his friends and generous to charities. At various times, he served in the Coast Guard, the Marines and the Naval Reserve; in fact, he nearly lost his life from enemy action in Vietnam. However, he was also a serial adulterer and a distant father who could be moody, arrogant, and volatile.Peter Ford, Glenn's son, tells this entire story in his candid biography of his famous father. Though Peter doesn't pull any punches, this is not a trashy-type memoir but a thoroughly researched and well-documented account that covers the actor's complete life, from his birth in Canada in 1916 to his death in Beverly Hills in 2006.Within those 90 years is a continually fascinating story of a genuine movie star. Along the way, Peter gives a comprehensive account of all of his father's films and provides interesting anecdotes on the production of his most famous movies. Numerous co-stars, such as Jack Lemmon, Sidney Poitier, Debbie Reynolds, Shirley Jones and Ernest Borgnine recall working with Glenn. From such interviews as well as from contemporary reviews, the actor's extraordinary and unappreciated talent becomes clear.Glenn's difficult relationships with personalities such as Harry Cohn, Frank Capra and Marlon Brando provide interesting reading. He remained a devoted friend to Rita Hayworth during her troubled years, when everyone else in Hollywood had deserted her. The book naturally provides intimate details on his marriage to Peter's mother, Eleanor Powell, as well as on the author's life with this famous couple, before and after their divorce. Glenn's three additional--and increasingly disastrous--marriages are also detailed. Also revealed are his affairs with numerous actresses, including--in addition to Hayworth--Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Maria Schell and a host of others. But the author never resorts to salaciousness; this isn't that kind of book.Ironically, this famous Hollywood star who had everything was always looking for love, or something resembling it. In actuality, he had true love from Eleanor Powell but he threw it away. Eleanor gave up her successful career for Glenn but he didn't appreciate this sacrifice. He had a selfish streak that he displayed toward those closest to him while he became increasingly vulnerable to younger women who left him emotionally and financially bankrupt. Depression and alcoholism marked the slow decline of Glenn Ford's life but, fortunately, his son and daughter-in-law never deserted him.As an author, Peter Ford displays remarkable objectivity in his descriptions of his often-difficult childhood and his fluctuating relationship with his father. He has a relaxed way of writing which makes the book a very satisfying read. He has the advantage of being a significant part of his subject's life but yet he still maintains a careful balance between emotion and reality. He avoids speculation and gossip and concentrates on factual detail. He details his father's faults as well as his virtues with compassion, understanding and honesty. This is a revealing, truthful and insightful biography of a Hollywood legend.

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