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Her life was amazing. She was part of a "heady" time in Hollywood. I started to get a little worn out and wonder when it would end. I think it would have been far better if it had been an hour or two shorter.
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Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
Nope: This book portrays a woman who lacked genuine friends, was coarse and aggressive, sweet only in order to get what she wanted (speaking in a baby voice, no less), and had no artistic imagination or appreciation. The book portrays Sue Mengers that way in the first hour and that's how she remains throughout her life. Her nickname was Mengele: that should give you a sense of how coarse and humorless she actually was. She wasn't at all political and didn't appreciate how momentous the times were in which she lived. She was fixed in a top-down vision of what Hollywood was all about, and kept foisting the same bland, supposedly A-list actors (Burt Reynolds??) into bland movies at a time when the whole world seemed to be opening up to a more creative approach. Most of the movies she was involved with were boring and forgettable; occasionally she lucked into a great movie when she happened to sign one of her clients onto a great picture, as she did with Faye Dunaway and Chinatown. But that was unusual for her.This book explains why agents are loathed and distrusted by actors, studio heads and other agents. It doesn't explain what made Sue Mengers a great agent, if indeed she was.
Has Can I Go Now? turned you off from other books in this genre?
The only reason I listened to this from beginning to end is that I love books in this genre: Peter Biskind's books; You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again; Bob Evans' memoir. I love the insider stories and learning more about how great movies are made. And Sue Mengers was legendary. She might have been awful but there must have been something special about her awfulness and I expected this book to reveal what it was. The result is that I have no idea why anyone would want to have anything to do with her. She had no interest in finding new talent, only in bagging the A list actors, and didn't seem to appreciate great innovative film making when it was going on around her. The book also doesn't capture Sue Mengers or any of the homes or other characters with physical details. One exception is a ghastly anecdote about her showing up to a meeting not wearing underwear and perching unattractively on her chair to reveal as much. That detail makes the book sound juicier than it actually is. But the anecdote does provide a vivid image and reveals how coarse, chutzpah-y and self-involved she was. If there had been other telling details like that, even if less juicy, the book would have been far more successful.
What about Suzanne Toren’s performance did you like?
The narration was clear but her accent was a bit plummy. No reader should have to rely only on herself, though, and the producers let her down by not informing her that Jacqueline Bissett is an English actress, not French! Unfortunately Suzanne Toren read all Bissett's lines with a French accent. Not only that, her French and English accents were peculiar. Audiobook producers should try to find other ways for readers to handle foreign accents if they can't pull them off -- somehow just suggest the accents rather than actually try to speak in them.Publishers and writers: make sure the producers of your audio books do their due diligence! This happens so frequently and spoils a read. People who like an audio book tell their friends who then go buy the "real" book -- so invest in quality productions! I had the feeling towards the end of the book, too, that Suzanne Toren felt very exasperated with the nasty Sue Mengers. Perhaps the writer did, too. But that might have been my own thoughts projected on the narrator!
Do you think Can I Go Now? needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?
No, please don't.
Any additional comments?
I am still trying to figure out why I hung in there to the bitter end. Perhaps to see how bitter the end would actually be? I probably gave too many stars to the book but that's in part because I feel sorry for the writer. He probably didn't realize how unappealing his biography subject was until he had used up the publisher's advance and had to keep on chugging! Must say, he made Tuesday Weld sound truly fascinating and worth getting to know, so I will find out more about her, thanks to this book!