Christopher Plummer has got away with a lot in his long life. Part of this must be due to sheer luck. Given his appetite for alcohol, food, and women, all of which appears to be meticulously detailed in this autobiography, it's a miracle he's in the good shape he's in, or indeed, alive at all, given more than one close call (also carefully related). Another thing that gets him off is his extreme good looks. People are always more willing to forgive handsome and charming people. The third thing that excuses this over-the-top catalogue of questionable doings is Plummer's own self-deprecation. Sure, he tells tales, but mostly on himself.

Plummer is a smart man. He knows, more than most people, that it takes a dollop of healthy self-regard to survive in the theatre, movies and television, and there's absolutely no doubt that he has that in spades. However, he also knows that no one succeeds in acting purely through one's own doing. In fact, sometimes one succeeds in spite of oneself. (Apt title, Christopher!) Thus, Plummer is careful to give credit to those who gave him breaks, who performed brilliantly alongside him, who loved him and put up with him. The story of his Tony nomination for Iago in Othello is buried by his account of daughter Amanda's Plummer's Tony-win for Agnes of God in the very same year. (And he cheerfully admits that he was "a lousy father" to his only child.)

There's a lot to forgive in this book: the rather precious sprinkling of French throughout (yes, he grew up in Montreal, but *really*), the number of times he describes friendships in terms of being "inseparable", the often purple prose, the vague and often downright inaccurate references to actual historical events. Did he even have an editor? However, the anecdotes are amusing, his life story is fascinating, and if you check the list of his accomplishments, he's left out a great deal. All delivered with devilish charm.

Finally, given his long life and the huge range of his acting, we can certainly forgive the name-dropping. That's no doubt why we picked up the book in the first place.

GailRoger's rating:
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