This biography contains original contributions from more than 30 actors and actresses including, Sir Ian McKellen, Ronnie Corbett, Ian Carmichael, Derek Fowlds, John Standing, George Cole, Stephen Fry, and John Fisher. It is supported by extensive research including an interview with the playwright Christopher Fry, information from people who worked on the film sets with Alastair, material from museum archives, and original reviews from theatre magazines, newspapers, and various other publications. It examines Alastair's roles in the Quota Quickie films of the 1930s and 1940s before he became established as the most idiosyncratic star in such famous British comedies as The Happiest Days of Your Life and The Belles of St Trinians. It goes on to explain why his popularity suddenly waned as the cinemagoers taste for the risqué evolved during the latter part of the 1950s. This book also explores Alastair's life outside of films including his marriage to Naomi Sim—whom he first met when she was 12—his extensive work on stage, including his theatrical endeavors with James Bridie, and his stalwart refusal to sign autographs. It is the only book in the market dedicated to Alastair Sim, and includes a bibliography and film section.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It is easy to see that this book is a labour of love: Alastair Sim was not your average celebrity actor. Sim would not give autographs, let alone interviews! Such circumstances could have lead to a brisk repeat of any tittle-tattle that had appeared in the newspapers whilst Mr Sim was at his peak, and little else. Not so: Mark Simpson scrupulously tracks every possible lead for information about Sim's life and even then, he is careful how he uses the gathered material. Sim met his wife when she was 12 and he was 26: surely, here we were to descend into a "Sun says" type chapter: not at all, Mr Simpson treats the issue carefully and, whilst it still strikes as odd, we are left in little doubt that, what we would now call grooming, was not what passed between Alastair and Naomi. Similarly, after Naomi had reached adulthood and they were married, they opened their house to young performers struggling to start their careers. Once more, this appears to be altruism in a more innocent time.This book is a gentle review of the life of a talented comedy actor of a bygone era.