I Loved Her In The Movies - Review

I Loved Her In The Movies - Review
With a film career spanning nearly seventy years, Robert Wagner has some great memories of classic Hollywood. In I Loved Her in the Movies, his third memoir, he focuses on nearly every legendary actress that readily comes to mind.

Part memoir and part Hollywood history, the book reads like a conversation between friends, that is, if your friend is Robert Wagner. His tone is friendly and light, and many passages are written with a warm sense of humor that seems genuine, not forced.

Wagner makes clear in the introduction that there won’t be any dirt-dishing, and he remains true to this promise. A few of the actresses he discusses were deeply flawed and some were unlikeable, but Wagner tends to highlight positive attributes of even the most difficult of personalities.

He has divided the book into eras and shares stories from his personal and professional encounters with Hollywood’s leading ladies. He also includes paragraphs about those whom he admired yet never had the opportunity to meet.

Wagner was born in 1930 in Los Angeles with a love for the movies beginning in childhood. He had the rare opportunity to grow up with the children of many of Hollywood’s major players and, due to this fortune, he got to meet their famous parents. He recalls meeting Norma Shearer, his friend Irving’s mother. It wasn’t until later he realized she was “the” Norma Shearer.

He writes in the greatest detail about those he liked and knew personally, such as Joan Blondell, Claire Trevor, and Ida Lupino. Others, whom he never had the chance to meet, such as Carole Lombard, Myrna Loy, and Jean Harlow, he writes about from the viewpoint of a true fan.

Time is also taken to appreciate character actresses like Eve Arden, Thelma Ritter, Maureen Stapleton, and Ann Rutherford. For each, he provides a personal anecdote when possible.

And then, there are those he loved, including Barbara Stanwyck and Natalie Wood. Again, he provides few details, but chooses to focus on the women for their strength and above all, their talent.

Most likely, aficionados of classic Hollywood may not learn anything new from the book, especially if they have read Wagner’s other memoirs. Still, his storytelling is personal, entertaining, and informative, and provides enjoyable reading for an afternoon.

Other memoirs by Robert J. Wagner include Pieces of My Heart: A Life (2008), and You Must Remember This: Life and Style in Hollywood’s Golden Age (2014). All three of his memoirs were written with Scott Eyman.

NOTE: I reviewed this book at my own expense.

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