Vanessa: The Life of Vanessa Redgrave

Vanessa: The Life of Vanessa Redgrave

by Dan Callahan
     
 

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In this first-ever biography of the woman many have called our greatest living actress, the formidable Vanessa Redgrave is at last revealed to us in all of her different personas.
Who isn’t in awe of Vanessa Redgrave? Her career on stage and screen remains vital and her extreme-left political stands are still quite controversial. This is the moment, and

Overview

In this first-ever biography of the woman many have called our greatest living actress, the formidable Vanessa Redgrave is at last revealed to us in all of her different personas.
Who isn’t in awe of Vanessa Redgrave? Her career on stage and screen remains vital and her extreme-left political stands are still quite controversial. This is the moment, and this is the biography, to take stock of Vanessa Redgrave both as actress and as political activist with a critical, objective study of her life and career. It is also time to account for her unparalleled achievements as an empathetic actress of considerable genius. In his Biographical Dictionary of Film, David Thomson writes about Redgrave, “She has made mistakes, but there is a case for her as the best actress alive, ready for further challenge.” Anyone who has seen Redgrave in her numerous stage and film roles will know why Thomson rates her as the very best we have. The radiant, fearless, daring, perverse and always unpredictable Redgrave is the brightest light in the forest of her famous family.

Editorial Reviews

The Wall Street Journal

Praise for Barbara Stanwyck: The Miracle Woman:

"Dan Callahan’s Barbara Stanwyck: The Miracle Woman
is a serious book about a serious woman. If Mr. Callahan’s book is not the last word on this great actress, it will certainly stand as an invaluable critical guide.

Sight and Sound
“Callahan epigrammatically notes the eternal human truths within Stanwyck’s performances.”
Dennis Drabelle - The Washington Post
“An impassioned biography. Film scholar Dan Callahan focuses on what really interests him about his subject: not Tinseltown gossip, but what Stanwyck accomplished on screen... Callahan’s enthusiasm informs every page.”
The Wall Street Journal - Praise for Barbara Stanwyck: The Miracle Woman
“Dan Callahan’s Barbara Stanwyck: The Miracle Woman is a serious book about a serious woman. If Mr. Callahan’s book is not the last word on this great actress, it will certainly stand as an invaluable critical guide.”
David Thomson - San Francisco Chronicle
“Exceptional. … Writing a book about an actor while she is still alive is not easy, but Callahan thrives on the difficulties. … As for Dan Callahan, he seems to me a leader among young writers on film.”
Lloyd Rose - The Washington Post
“Unsparing about Redgrave’s politics, Callahan shines in his analysis of her performances. He not only understands the technical aspects of acting but he has a romantic appreciation of its transcendent, near-magical qualities.”
Sight & Sound Magazine
“Fresh and insightful: it’s not easy to characterise what makes a performance effective or otherwise, and critics often duck the responsibility altogether, but Dan Callahan is skilled at finding feisty, odd, intelligent ways to evaluate the ineffable.”
Liz Smith
“Fascinating. Masterfully written. Read Vanessa if you want a fully schooled lesson on the woman most of her peers think of as the greatest living actress.”
Praise for Barbara Stanwyck: The Miracle Woman - The Wall Street Journal
“Dan Callahan’s Barbara Stanwyck: The Miracle Woman is a serious book about a serious woman. If Mr. Callahan’s book is not the last word on this great actress, it will certainly stand as an invaluable critical guide.”
Cassandra Langer
“Dan Callahan's riveting Vanessa is an enthralling, heartbreaking account of one of the greatest actresses of this or any century. it is a biography that gives us much food for thought and captures the woman inside the actress with understanding and compassion.”
Karina Longworth
“The intensely researched Vanessa is no puff piece, but Callahan's passion for his subject is nonetheless contagious.”
William J. Mann
“A compelling survey into the work and spirit of one of the greatest actresses of the past half century, penned by one of the most trenchant and percipient writers covering movies today.”
Kirkus Reviews
2014-03-06
A freelance critic and author returns with a blend of biography and criticism in his reconstruction of the life of the woman many consider the greatest actress of her time. Redgrave (born 1937) did not cooperate with Callahan's (Barbara Stanwyck: The Miracle Woman, 2012) project, and we witness no encounters between them until the final pages. Instead, the author relies heavily on her filmed appearances (TV and movies—he appears to have seen everything), published reviews of her performances, memoirs of the principals, accounts in periodicals (including the far-left political activities that imperiled her career), and interviews with others who knew and know her. Callahan's treatment, sturdily chronological, informs us about her parents (Michael, her father, is a major character), her love affairs (Franco Nero and Timothy Dalton are among the most prominent), her beginnings in theater (she played in Saint Joan in high school), the evolution of her philosophy and technique of luminescent acting, and her early films and breakout role as Guinevere in the film of Camelot (1967), a production the author calls the "ruination of a delightful show." Callahan moves steadily through her work, pausing occasionally to give detailed summaries and analyses of specific productions and her performances. Although he is a great admirer of Redgrave's work, the author does not hesitate to chide her—as he does for her 2003 stage appearance in Long Day's Journey into Night. He also pauses for chapters about her loved ones—e.g., about her father and his death or her daughter, Natasha Richardson, and her death in 2009. Richly detailed account of Redgrave's career, though it's missing the fireworks that some encounters with the author might have ignited.
The Daily Mail
“Outstanding. A thorough account of Redgrave's life, but the real strength lies in his precise and penetrating analysis of her qualities as an actor.”
Booklist
“Deconstructing her varied career in minute, almost scene-by-scene detail, with full chapters devoted to Redgrave's most seminal works, Callahan's perceptive analysis of Redgrave's achievements makes this an integral resource for serious students of cinema and stage.”
Library Journal
04/15/2014
The emergence of Vanessa Redgrave (b. 1937) as a leading stage and screen presence is meticulously traced in this descriptive narrative containing many behind-the-scenes details and anecdotes. Callahan (Barbara Stanwyck: The Miracle Woman) offers analytic commentary on Redgrave's performances and distinctive acting style in both major and lesser-known roles. The author studies Redgrave's work in live productions, from Shakespeare to Ibsen; in films, such as Isadora; Julia; Mrs. Dalloway, and offers an objective examination of the controversies surrounding the actress's high-profile political activism and its subsequent impact on her professional life. Although the opportunity to gain a deeper sense of Redgrave as an individual separate from her public persona is somewhat overshadowed by the volume of details, Callahan certainly provides a compelling exploration of a legendary career. VERDICT An extensively researched and comprehensive biography that will be especially appealing to Redgrave's fans as well as theater and film devotees. For circulating libraries with large entertainment collections.—Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781605985572
Publisher:
Pegasus
Publication date:
05/15/2014
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
1,176,911
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author

Dan Callahan, author of Barbara Stanwyck: The Miracle Woman, is the associate editor at Siman Media Works. He has published theater and film reviews in Time Out New York, Sight and Sound, The L Magazine, Slant Magazine and many other publications. He lives in New York.

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