Frank McLynn

A Man Between

Edge of Midnight: The Life of John Schlesinger


Faber & Faber 459pp £20 order from our bookshop

JOHN SCHLESINGER, WHO died last year at seventy-seven, was one of the most interesting British film directors, and certainly achieved more than his best-known contemporaries – Tony Richardson, Karel Reisz, Lindsay Anderson and Jack Clayton. He was also one of the few Brits to have made a reasonable career in America, though all his best and most successful films were made in the Sixties, and the Hollywood period thereafter inevitably fails to match up. His own disappointments were mirrored in the themes of his movies, which were usually concerned with cowards, failures, losers, the dark side of life, and the feel-bad factor. William Mann’s committed and almost hagiographic biography overrates Schlesinger and finds good things to say about even his most horrendous pictures (such as Honky Tonk Freeway), but benefits from extensive interviews with the director – conducted when he was seriously ill – and his actors and co-workers. Schlesinger was always treated generously by the critics, and this gives Mann his chance to proselytise for films which the more discerning viewer would see as glorified potboilers.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Picturesque scenery, hard work in uncomfortable surroundings, eccentric locals, the yearly round: all the ingredie… ,
    • Tarantino's latest film is 'a fairy tale about Hollywood, where fantasy is an industrial product and the boulevards… ,
    • 'I don’t think we’re here on Earth to be Happy. I think we’re here on Earth to help God. I am a messianic writer'.… ,
    • 'Darley’s book is not a mad dash through this most compelling and complex of English counties. Nor is it another ti… ,
    • 'Moser’s book offers such a gripping account of a profoundly damaged human being, trapped in a cycle of repetition,… ,
    • 'Ideas that I’d thought were set down in full continue to smoulder ... this book is only a snapshot of some larger… ,
    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,