Any reader who has been doing much reading knows the experience of making a new friend through the words on a page. Sometimes factual, sometimes fictitious, these new friends creep into your mind and take up residence there. This pretty well describes the feeling I got when I read Ben Bryant’s first book, Three Stages. His chatty style felt like a conversation over dinner with an old friend. This actor-turned-moviemaker took readers along for a wild ride in the world of film and stage up to the 1960s.
His second volume, Circumstances Beyond My Control, brings them through the 70s and 80s as he grows in his behind the camera roles. While he celebrates the people and processes involved in producing entertainment in this second memoir, he isn’t afraid to tell the truth from his point of view. Although Bryant isn’t nasty, he is sometimes very frank and doesn’t hesitate to express his opinion, pro or con, of some of the big names in the industry.
Any fan of movies and movie making will enjoy this peek behind the scenes of both famous and little-known productions. My favorite aspect of the book is his easy explanation of subjects that might be technically daunting in other hands. Bryant describes the various roles involved in making commercials and films and shares his adventures in those roles.
He tells of his disasters as well as his triumphs. One of his most giggle-inducing stories recounts how he became the proud owner of what may have been the first Walkman in the U.S. in Chapter 20.
A silken thread throughout the storyline comes from his continuing love story, the relationship he shares with his wife Elizabeth. How refreshing to read of a long-term marriage between two show business people without all the scandal and garbage.
Bryant has worked with relative unknowns and he’s worked with superstars, people like Mel Brooks and Paul Newman. He’s worked on location across the United States and in many foreign countries. Throughout his retelling, he shares the wonder and beauty he has found.
How nice to have a return visit with a friend! That’s what you’ll find in Circumstances Beyond My Control. Although I’ve not had the chance to actually meet him, I feel as though I would like this man who so obviously loves the work he does and doesn’t mind sharing that love with us.
Disclaimer: This review is based on a review copy provided by the author or publisher with no restrictions as to content. All opinions are my own.
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