The Good, the Bad, and the Dolce Vita: The Adventures of an Actor in Tinseltown, Paris, and Rome

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Born and raised in Brooklyn with a street fighter's instinct and sharp Jewish wit, Mickey Knox leaves the army for the bright lights of Hollywood. But when the rise of McCarthyism puts an abrupt end to his hopes of working in American films, Knox debarks to France and Italy to work in European cinema. It turns out to be the best move of his life. This book?where every major film actor and writer of the last century appears?is a wonderful, gossipy history of European cinema as seen through the observant eye of ...
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Overview


Born and raised in Brooklyn with a street fighter's instinct and sharp Jewish wit, Mickey Knox leaves the army for the bright lights of Hollywood. But when the rise of McCarthyism puts an abrupt end to his hopes of working in American films, Knox debarks to France and Italy to work in European cinema. It turns out to be the best move of his life. This book—where every major film actor and writer of the last century appears—is a wonderful, gossipy history of European cinema as seen through the observant eye of Knox. From arguing with John Wayne, teaching Anna Magnani to articulate English, to fending off Zsa Zsa Gabor's advances and getting lost in Italy with a hungry Orson Welles, Knox was in the midst of it all, watching with a dry smile and a witty comeback. Of the colorful cast of characters who have passed through his life—Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Ava Gardner, Anthony Quinn, Henry Fonda, Burt Reynolds, Sam Fuller, Elvis Presley, Gore Vidal—one lasting friendship runs throughout the text. That friend—Norman Mailer—writes a preface to "a rare warrior of that rarely heroic world of stage and screen." Black-and-white photographs are included.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Having worked in the movie business for so long, Knox may have met everyone. Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams, Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, Bo Derek, Sophia Loren, Laurence Olivier, James Dean, Al Pacino... the list goes on and on. Regrettably, that list is the basis for the book's structure, with almost every one of the more than 60 mini-chapters devoted to an anecdote about a particular celebrity. Born in Brooklyn in 1922, Knox began his career on the New York stage and, after serving in WWII, made a promising start as a contract actor in Hollywood-part of the stable containing Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. But after several fairly successful B-movie roles, Knox was blacklisted, and his acting career was, with a few exceptions, over. But Knox is plucky, not given to bitterness or defeat. He started a second career as a dialogue coach and screenplay translator of European movies. The influence of so many years working with screenplays is obvious and unfortunate: the book is choppy; the scenes are too short, most often beginning with the entrance of the star ("Clark Gable! The King!"; "The Italian icon: Marcello Mastroianni!"); and several chapters end with italicized epilogues ("fast forwards"). Only on the rare occasion-usually involving Mailer, who wrote the introduction for the book-do his celebrity anecdotes rise above name-dropping to achieve real meaning. It's a book of moments rather than stories. Knox clearly had a remarkable life; it's too bad it doesn't translate to the page. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Who is Mickey Knox? Born in Brooklyn in 1922, he moved to Hollywood in the 1940s and went on to star in films like Knock on Any Door and G.I. Blues. When he was blacklisted in 1951, his career came to an abrupt halt-or so he thought. In his lively memoir, Knox recounts his years of exile in Europe, where he worked as a screenwriter (most notably for the English adaptations of Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West) and a dialog coach for foreign actors like Anna Magnani. Over the course of his career, he became associated with many famous people, including Norman Mailer (who wrote the preface), Orson Welles, Anthony Quinn, and Ava Gardner. Now living in Los Angeles, Knox has led a fairly eventful life, and anyone interested in Hollywood and the blacklist would enjoy this book. Recommended for public libraries where such books are popular.-Barbara Kundanis, Batavia P.L., IL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Slapdash memoir from a once-blacklisted actor. Knox is a method actor, but the detail, insight, and introspection that define that school of acting hardly characterize his autobiography. Knox was born on Coney Island in 1922, the illegitimate child of Russian Jews. He behaved, he says, like "a little shit," the first of many crude terms he scatters throughout. Home life in the Depression may have influenced Knox to become an actor, but he doesn't speculate on his motivation, as method actors often do. Instead, he says he chose his career "out of the blue," an observation to make Lee Strasberg bang his head against the fourth wall. In short order, Knox appears on the New York stage, then in Hollywood films as a Warner Bros. contract player. His pace now revved up to the speed of a whizbang, B-level gangster film, Knox recalls making I Walk Alone, Knock on Any Door, and White Heat in the late '40s and early '50s. Knox's tales of lotus land and his style go beyond the stale: "Legend has it," Knox writes, that-gasp!-Lana Turner was discovered at the counter of Schwab's Drugstore. Knox works with left-wing writers Marc Blitzstein and Bertolt Brecht and-zip!-the actor is blacklisted. No matter. Whoosh! Knox flies to Europe, where, over four decades, he works in films, playing supporting roles and dubbing or coaching actors who don't speak English. Pleasures on La Dolce Vita are often carnal, he recalls, observing delicately, that "Sooner rather than later, costars fuck," and that "In the normal course of pursuing pussy, Roman men are relentless." Tales about work with Anna Magnani, Eli Wallach, and Orson Welles are more engaging and tasteful. Surely the breeziest account yet of the Blacklist.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560255758
  • Publisher: Nation Books
  • Publication date: 4/9/2004
  • Series: Nation Books
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.05 (d)

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