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Clark, son of historian Sir Kenneth Clark, spent his days just after college as third assistant director (read gofer) on the set of the 1957 British film The Prince and The Showgirl. What made this film unique, and the reason Clark decided to keep a daily journal, was the unlikely pairing of Marilyn Monroe and Sir Lawrence Olivier in the title roles. Monroe hoped this would give her a more serious image; Olivier hoped to boost his film career. But Monroe was insecure; treated badly by her new husband, Arthur Miller; and often late and on drugs. Olivier, the consummate professional, had no patience. Though the diary is amusing, it sheds little new light on the Monroe legend, and though it gives the reader a bird's-eye view of an interesting place and time, its narrow scope keeps it from being a necessary purchase. For comprehensive film collections.Rosellen Brewer, Monterey Bay Area Coop. Lib. Sys., Pacific Grove, Cal. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Forty years ago, Colin Clark, the son of art historian Kenneth Clark, accepted a job as a "gofer" on the set of Laurence Olivier's film The Prince and the Showgirl, which was to star Olivier and Marilyn Monroe. By day, Clark satisfied the every whim of director Olivier and other crew members; by night, he chronicled the day's events in his diary, compiling a vivid and witty introduction to the craft and business of filmmaking. Now he is publishing the diary virtually intact. It's a wickedly entertaining little book, a delicious backstage comedy of the clash of two worlds, as well as a candid time capsule of a heedless young Englishman's sexual progress, circa 1956. At center stage are the classically trained Olivier, leading a crew of expert British film professionals, and a sad and volatile Monroe, surrounded by manipulative and sycophantic hangers-on. Clark's thumbnail judgments of the principals are shrewd, sometimes harsh; playwright Arthur Miller, who married the actress just before the film began production, comes across as particularly unpleasant. Full of the sort of stories and observations film insiders tell only each other (Monroe upon Clark's first scrutiny: "She looked absolutely frightful.... Nasty complexion, a lot of facial hair, shapeless figure and, when the glasses came off, a very vague look in her eye"), this diary is a breezy, gossipy, often hilarious read. Photos. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved