Read George Cukor: A Double Life by Patrick McGilligan Online


Relates the life of the secretly gay Hollywood director who guided to stardom such legendary actresses as Garbo, Bergman, Garland, and Hepburn....

Title : George Cukor: A Double Life
Author :
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ISBN : 9780312153779
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 456 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

George Cukor: A Double Life Reviews

  • Robert Dunbar
    2019-05-08 23:05

    “That Jewboy up there!” Clark Gable often referred to David O. Selznik in terms that did nothing to contradict the King’s reputation as a swaggering bigot. His favorite appellation for George Cukor remained simply: “that fag.” Understandably, the shooting of Gone With the Wind commenced under somewhat strained conditions: “I can’t go on with this,” Gable insisted early on. Worse would follow. “I won’t be directed by a fairy!” When rumors began to circulate about homosexual episodes in his own life, Gable apparently found it too risky to continue. He stalked off the set, insisting he needed to work with “a real man!” The director was promptly fired.George Cukor did not fit Gable’s definition of a real man. One hopes he was proud of that. Growing up in Manhattan, he had haunted galleries and concert stages since childhood, reading omnivorously and dreaming of running a theater company someday. Most of his wishes came true. After a brief stint managing a summer-stock troupe, he found success as perhaps the premier American director of witty, sophisticated films, but the label “woman’s director” stuck almost at once. From Garbo and Harlow to Hepburn and Crawford, virtually every major actress in Hollywood worked with Cukor (in The Women more or less all at once), and he often coaxed from them their most celebrated performances. Set against this backdrop of artistic triumphs, the details of Cukor’s personal life seem all the more poignant. George Cukor: A Double Life is a triumph of detective work, painting a detailed portrait of a creative, troubled and highly complex individual, of an existence filled with fascinating social connections … and no true intimacy. Patrick McGilligan makes clear his belief that “a deeper knowledge of a man’s life facilitates a deeper appreciation of his work,” and it’s a noble undertaking. Scandalous anecdotes may abound – the wild parties with drunken servicemen, the paid-for sex, the bitchy ripostes that flew between Cukor’s clique and Cole Porter’s, but they don't distract from the real message. In an era when movies tended to revolve about the antics of the madcap rich, Cukor’s preferred subject was forever the outcast, the societal misfit. The double life may have been, in so many respects, no life at all. Yet in Cukor’s movies, love blossoms: grandly, tragically, beautifully. Treasure those films, and honor the courage they took to make.

  • Evan
    2019-05-16 05:01

    OK, so this was on the clearance shelf at Half Price for $3. The first page I open randomly, and my eyes hone in on Clark Gable's references to David O. Selznick as "that Jewboy" and George Cukor as "that fag." (As it happened, Cukor happened to be both). Cukor is probably the greatest film director who also happened to be gay, with maybe James Whale in second place. OK OK, and Sergei Eisenstein, probably. The first part of the book talks about the Cukor family's challenges assimilating as Jews in America.I just started it and what I like is that he captures the family tree and the flavor of Cukor's early family life without going into too much archeological detail -- the bane of a lot of bios these days that seem more intent on being "the bio of record" rather than telling a good story through judicious editorial selection.But anyway this looks like a no-nonsense Hollywood bio; quite up my alley.

  • Djll
    2019-04-30 00:48

    George Cukor made movies starting at the dawn of the talkies and did his final work in the 1980s. Famous for being a "woman's director" and kicking out such cinematic monuments as David Copperfield, The Philadelphia Story, Adam's Rib, A Star Is Born and My Fair Lady, he also was known as the guy who got fired from Gone With the Wind because Clark Gable refused to be "directed by a fairy."A Double Life begins a bit clumsily — put it down to a dearth of living interviewees — but steadily gains force and really hits stride when the hit movies start to get made. McGilligan presents his subject's closeted private life with care and tenderness, but never gloss. Along the way he works through a lot of Hollywood history, because Cukor was there for so much of it, and the author even gets some decent film criticism put to paper. By the end I was really sorry to see the final credits.

  • Steven
    2019-05-17 21:43

    This is a richly satisfying biography of the film director George Cukor (1899-1983), who was active for an astonishing fifty years. He was responsible for some of the greatest films that came out of Hollywood, including "Little Women" (1933), with Katharine Hepburn; "David Copperfield" (1935); "Camille" (1936, featuring arguably Greta Garbo's finest performance); "The Women" (1939); "The Philadelphia Story" (1940); "Gaslight" (1944); "Born Yesterday" (1950); and "A Star Is Born" (1954), which showcases a brilliant performance by Judy Garland. Cukor won his sole Academy Award for directing for "My Fair Lady" in 1965.But Cukor is also notorious for having been fired as the director of "Gone With the Wind" after shooting only a few scenes. The reason, as is well known now, was because star Clark Gable was acutely uncomfortable with Cukor's homosexuality, which was an open secret at the time. Cukor was extremely discreet and never acknowledged his sexual orientation openly, but he hosted lavish weekly Sunday luncheons for a coterie of gay friends from the film industry, and Cukor became the unofficial head of Hollywood gay culture in the mid-1930s. Patrick McGilligan did a tremendous amount of research to unearth the details of Cukor's gay life, interviewing survivors from the period, some of whom were extremely reluctant to speak openly. But McGilligan's efforts paid off, and his belief that the private life of artists colors their work is certainly borne out in the way Cukor approached his scripts, actors, and designers.This is really a riveting biography, and leagues ahead of the usual trashy Hollywood bio. I had a hard time finishing the book because it was such a great read.

  • Christophlaw80
    2019-04-30 04:58

    interesting. I was really hoping for more backstage dish esp on working on THE WOMEN, but overall an interesting read.

  • Kate
    2019-05-01 23:39

    A solid biography. I was glad to finally get to know the career and story of director and Old Hollywood "peer", George Cukor. The biography gives even coverage to his work, films like The Philadelphia Story and Camille, his friendships, with people like producer and RKO boss David O. Selznick and his wife, Irene, Katharine Hepburn, and Billy Haines, and his conflicted relationship with his sexuality.This book is twenty years old though and I do think it shows in the way McGilligan writes about Cukor's sexuality in relation to his reputation as a "woman's director." He doesn't exactly say actresses were comfortable with Cukor with him because he was gay and thus, unthreatening, but he does present that view multiple times without examining the ways in which that's reductive and simplistic.Overall though, a good read, and a great one to pair with Irene Mayer Selznick's autobiography, "A Private View", especially in relation to Cukor's relationship with David, and the events surrounding Cukor's replacement as director of Gone With The Wind.

  • David Claudon
    2019-05-01 21:04

    Patrick McGilligan in George Cukor: a Double Life, tries to reconcile the public persona of the famous Hollywood "women's director" [whose career spanned from Broadway in the 1920s to being the oldest director (in his 80s) to direct a film in 1981] with the private role as a closeted Homosexual moving in Hollywood's homophobic macho studio world. I had forgotten how many of the credited films Cukor directed that I had seen and enjoyed: among them Little Women (1933), David Copperfield (1935), Camille (1936), The Women (1939), The Philadelphia Story (1940), Gaslight (1944), Born Yesterday (1950), A Star is Born (1954), and My Fair Lady (1964). Just the list of films is overwhelming, but the intensely private Cukor was a fascinating study in America's view of the closeted and ultimately shrouded homosexual professional of the late twentieth century. McGilligan has done intensive research and it shows. His most powerful sobering image is that of Cukor's funeral where few of the friends he had amassed during his Hollywood years failed attend, including Katherine Hepburn who was his close friend for decades.

  • Elizabeth Periale
    2019-04-24 23:39"Meticulously researched, George Cukor: A Double Life spends equal time investigating what went into the making of his films as it also tries to go behind the facade of Cukor's Hollywood homosexual life. McGilligan manages to portray Cukor as a well-rounded man, but one wonders what the director, who tried so hard to keep his open secret under wraps would think about his "tricks" being discussed alongside his A-list friendships with such movie stars and celebrities as Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Somerset Maugham, and Vivien Leigh. Cukor would never have mixed the two groups in his life. In fact he went out of his way to keep his public and private lives very separate."

  • Boris Cesnik
    2019-04-22 01:45

    Not a bad biography. Good writing (which would have florished with more empathy form the author), amusing annedocteds but I was expecting more. Probably I picked the wrong book to find out more about his films. Despite some prominence attributed to titles and actors, this book is specifically dedicated to put his private life on the front row...I guess by sacrificing innumerable interesting and more appealing behind the scenes recounters.All in all an enjoyable rollecoaster trip into a fascinating but still not fully delivered biography.

  • David
    2019-05-03 23:48

    After reading the biographies of a few directors and actors I have the impression that great movies happen almost by accident -- and the system makes it unlikely. That Cukor succeeded in making _several_ great films speaks volumes. It's sad that Cukor had to live a double life, like just about every other homosexual of the era. It just occurred to me: it's funny that McGillan didn't mention the queerish characters in a couple of the Tracy and Hepburn films Cukor made.

  • Stephen
    2019-05-08 21:47

    After seeing so many of his films, it was good to finally read a biography of the great George Cukor. I first encountered him when reading the life of Katherine Hepburn a few years ago and it was good to hear his side of the story. His list of "great films" certainly goes on and on and it is fitting that he finally won the Oscar for My Fair Lady.

  • Denis
    2019-04-25 21:46

    Minutious, extremely well-researched and well written bio of one of the greatest Hollywood directors, who also happened to be gay. McGillian does a great job at analyzing Cukor's career and his many films while revealing the hidden part of his life in a very respectful yet honest way. Makes you want to see all of Cukor's movies again.

  • Rachel
    2019-04-30 22:42

    Not as interesting as I wanted it to be.

  • Tim Pinckney
    2019-04-29 02:53

    A good read. A little coy about certain subjects but so was Mr. Cukor.