Garson Kanin John Coleman - Essay

John Coleman

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Garson Kanin's Tracy and Hepburn has a few pictures, no index at all and is strictly for those diehards who lap up 'affectionate memoirs'. Mr Kanin conducts his saccharine account of a working and playing relationship largely in terms of conversations in which he and his wife, Ruth Gordon, also take part. This enables us to eavesdrop on a lot of trivia and to hear a different version of a story about Miss Hepburn's socially committed family from the one in [Frank] Capra's book [The Name above the Title]. 'Spencer was a true intellectual', who used to sit up most of the night reading detective stories, an instinctive actor, a reformed alcoholic and naturally religious. Miss Hepburn takes many showers a day, fought off John Barrymore in his dressing room, and has been 'a house person' all her life. She is given to fainting in restaurants and imparting vast, confident amounts of information on everything. By diligent use of a sieve, the reader may come up with a handful of facts about this remarkable couple's careers…. The problems of finding a foothold in this marshy memorial are increased by the book's constant leaping around in time and by a level of writing far below the witty Mr Kanin's best. (p. 231)

John Coleman, "Life Sentences," in New Statesman (© 1972 The Statesman & Nation Publishing Co. Ltd.), Vol. 84, No. 2161, August 18, 1972, pp. 231-32.∗