Title: Admit One: My Life in Film
Author: Emmett James
Published: 2007; Pages 197
Admit One: My Life in Film is Emmett James’s memoir about breaking into the film industry and becoming a successful actor. I love movies. I love memoirs. So why wouldn’t I be interested in reading a memoir about movies? Jones begins his memoir from the very beginning when he went to see A Jungle Book with his family in Croydon, England where he grew up. It would be a long journey before he would break into Hollywood and attain his first roll in a major motion picture. THE major motion picture: Titanic.
When I received this book from publicist Lisa Roe, I’ll admit that while I had seen and skimmed many reviews for this book I didn’t really have a good idea of what it was about. Each chapter is entitled after the name of a movie and presumably these titles shape the content of each chapter. This is sometimes well-done and sometimes loosely to say the least. When I realized that this book wasn’t about how these specific movies shaped his life (for example Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, Taxi Driver, A Jungle Book), I was at first really disappointed. But as I got used to the idea that these movies really have no tie in to the book at all and that the book is more straightforwardly his memoir about breaking into the film industry I settled in and began to enjoy the book a little more.
This book was an interesting read, especially in the second half of the book when James was grown and had moved to Hollywood to start his career. James has a biting sense of humor and his tone is highly sarcastic. For some authors this works for me–I don’t look for books I read to be wrapped neatly in a perfectly square Politically Correct box–but in this book the tone seemed condescending and oftentimes offensive. James also discusses some of the seedier things he did in order to get noticed or to make a few bucks to keep himself afloat. In one instance he dresses up as a superhero to hand deliver his portfolio to the director of Batman Forever in hopes that he’ll be noticed and gain the role of one of the cape donning, tight wearing men of the film:
“The lift doors shut gently behind me—I kept walking. The tie, shirt, and jacket came off. I kept walking. The silky tights were straightened. My walking quickened. My superhero package was properly adjusted. I had reached my destination, I was standing in front of his room door, cape billowing behind me, now having massive second thoughts about this whole ridiculous scheme. What the fuck was I thinking? Paranoia had swept over me. I looked in every direction. Were cameras watching me? Could I really have struggled to take my trousers off without them realizing there was something not quite kosher going on with the Warner’s special delivery?” (95).
All in all this book is entertaining but it just wasn’t what I hoped it would be. The focus of James’s career thus far is playing a steward in the movie Titanic. During his time on the film he rubbed elbows with some of the greatest actors/actresses of our times, but unfortunately James isn’t a face or a name I recognize after seeing the movie several times. And while James’s lack of fame didn’t have any effect on my reading (I generally prefer not to read books by celebrities), I’m not quite sure what this book was supposed to be about–was it how movies spoke to him as a kid, or how he struggled to make his way, or his successes that he accomplished? This book would have been more effective with a clearer focus.
What movies did you see as a kid that left an imprint on you??
My thanks to Lisa Roe for sending this to me months ago.
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