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Conversations with John Schlesinger

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“I like the surprise of the curtain going up, revealing what’s behind it.”
–John Schlesinger

The British director John Schlesinger was one of the cinema’s most dynamic and influential artists. Now, in Conversations with John Schlesinger, acclaimed writer Ian Buruma, Schlesinger’s nephew, reveals the director’s private world in a series of in-depth interviews conducted in the later years of the director’s life.

Here they discuss the impact of Schlesinger’s personal life on his art. As his films so readily demonstrate, Schlesinger is a wonderful storyteller, and he serves up fascinating and provocative recollections of growing up in a Jewish family during World War II, his sexual coming-of-age as a gay man in conformist 1950s England, his emergence as an artist in the “Swinging 60s,” and the roller-coaster ride of his career as one of the most prominent Hollywood directors of his time.

Schlesinger also discusses his artistic philosophy and approach to filmmaking, recounting stories from the sets of his masterpieces, including Midnight Cowboy; Sunday, Bloody Sunday; Marathon Man; and The Day of the Locust. He shares what it was like to direct such stars as Dustin Hoffman, John Voight, Sean Penn, Madonna, and Julie Christie (whom Schlesinger is credited with discovering) and offers his thoughts on the fickle nature of fame and success in Hollywood.

Packed with wit and keen insight into the artistic mind, Conversations with John Schlesinger is not just the candid story of a dynamic and eventful life but the true measure of an extraordinary person.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Oct 31, 2005 – How does an accomplished historian of Asia (Inventing Japan) come to write about an Oscar-winning director? Buruma, it turns out, is Schlesinger's nephew as a small child, he even had a brief cameo in one of his uncle's earliest short productions. Their personal rapport creates a leisurely pace, so it isn't until a third of the way through that the conversation turns to Schlesinger's first major directing effort, 1962's A Kind of Loving. The veteran director has amusing behind-the-scenes anecdotes about actors like Jon Voight and Laurence Olivier, but a debilitating stroke (Schlesinger died in 2003) ended the talks before he could discuss his final films, including the Madonna vehicle The Next Best Thing (not, Buruma suggests, that he would have had anything good to say about the experience). Schlesinger feels his limitations keenly "I've never been a critics' darling," he admits but offers perceptive insights into the reception of his frank treatment of controversial subjects. In fact, he believed, his most famous film, Midnight Cowboy (1969), couldn't get made in today's Hollywood, its treatment of homosexuality and male hustling too raw for skittish studios. A fuller consideration of Schlesinger's work is still needed, but these informal dialogues will do until then. Photos. (On sale Jan. 10)
Conversations with John Schlesinger
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  • $13.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Jan 10, 2006
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 208 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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