Sam Spiegel: The Incredible Life and Times of Hollywood’s Most Iconoclastic Producer, the Miracle Worker Who Went from Penniless Refugee to Showbiz Legend, and Made Possible The African Queen, On the Waterfront, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and Lawrence of Arabia

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3 thoughts on “Sam Spiegel: The Incredible Life and Times of Hollywood’s Most Iconoclastic Producer, the Miracle Worker Who Went from Penniless Refugee to Showbiz Legend, and Made Possible The African Queen, On the Waterfront, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and Lawrence of Arabia

  1. 2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    An Important Part of Film Lore, October 2, 2008
    By 

    I just finished reading the book two days ago. Sam Spiegel’s story is, in many ways, as epic as his films. Narrow escapes from Germany and Austria, jailed an expelled from both the U.K. and U.S., he managed to be welcomed back to all places, as well as being welcomed as a Jewish movie producer in 1960s Jordan. At his best, he was one of the sharpest film minds ever for finding stories and talent on both sides of the camera. And that he spanned the late 30s to the 1980s makes him an important figure, let alone his four best known productions. Ms. Fraser tracked down and spoke with a lot of people to paint this portrait, and, even including his film work it isn’t pretty. She does not hold back the punches regarding what could euphemistically be called Spiegel’s sexual peccadilloes, let alone his two-faced, manipulative dealings with people. Yet few in the book profess other than to love and admire the fan, even knowing his faults. An earlier review said that he fit into the stereotype of the average Hollywood producer. I would disagree. Sam Spiegel was the mold for the stereotype. Others are pale imitations. He was bigger, brasher and bolder than Goldwyn, Mayer and Selznick combined. I hate to say that it is not a brilliant book, but it is a well researched, well written and important portrait of someone who was truly a one of a kind film maker.

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  2. 4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Mediocre at best, May 5, 2004

    I have a deep interest for history, especially Hollywood history, and Sam Spiegel is a name that crops up all over the place and, until now, has really garnered very little attention in the way of biography relative to his peers. Natasha Fraser-Cassavoni had a personal relationship with Spiegel (he produced a film based on a play by her stepfather Harold Pinter) and is perhaps as qualified as anyone to write the life story of this great producer.

    The problem is, although his catalog of films can stand alongside that of anyone in the history of the industry, as a person he doesn’t really have any particular standout characteristics that make you take any real interest in him beyond his work. Instead he seems to fit the bill as the stereotype of the Hollywood producer and maybe that alone is enough to make him interesting, but it doesn’t come across. The best chapters focus on the films, not the man. There’s no denying he was very good at what he did, but this book proved a supreme disappointment simply because I came away not knowing anything more than what I could have learned from a basic filmography. Three stars is a more than generous rating but I give it that because the films are worth the analysis.

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  3. 2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
    1.0 out of 5 stars
    Disappointing, January 15, 2004
    By A Customer

    I found this book difficult to read much less follow. I have a great interest in “old” Hollywood and have read many books on the subject. This book would be at the bottom of the list.

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