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I'm having a hard time writing about this book because, frankly, I have mixed feelings. On the fun side, I enjoyed reading the inside scoop of many of the people who were big in the film biz from 1895 to 1979. Some of the stories are funny (Humphrey Bogart carrying around a stuffed panda), and some are almost hard to believe (did John Barrymore really drink his wife's perfume when he couldn't find any alcohol in his house?).
On the less fun side, I found it a little sad that some of the actors I've loved watching on the silver screen had major problems with alcohol. Apparently Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were notorious for public drunkenness, and Lee Marvin was once so inebriated he couldn't remember where he lived. Ava Gardner
was a gal who like to get hammered and get hammered fast. her drink of choice was a concoction of her own invention that she called Mommy's Little Mixture. . . . dump every type of liquor you can find into a jug or pitcher or punch bowl and suck it down.I think my favorite parts of Of All the Gin Joints were the vignettes on the Hollywood clubs, bars, and restaurants where the rich and famous used to hang out. For example, the Magic Castle is a private club in the Hollywood Hills that was originally built as a place for magicians to gather. The castle is known for its nightly magic shows staged for only members and their guests. Johnny Carson, Steve Martin, and Tony Curtis belonged to the club.
The movie-set stories are also entertaining, and I liked learning the actors' favorite drinks. Edward Hemingway's illustrations, especially the caricatures, are little gems.
Recommendations: Of All the Gin Joints is a book that would appeal to film buffs and those interested in Hollywood history. For the rest of us, I suggest checking it out from the library. You'll find some interesting tidbits, but I'm not sure it's worth the bookshelf space. Note that Library Journal gave Mark Bailey's Of All the Gin Joints a starred review, so maybe it's just me.
Port and Brandy
A favorite of Richard Harris
- 1.5 ounces Port
- 1 ounce brandy
Published by Workman / Algonquin Books, 2014
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)