Black Sunset (Paperback)
Hollywood Sex, Lies, Glamour, Betrayal, and Raging Egos
Share this book
For me it begins in such an ordinary way … with a gorilla, a blonde, and a gun …
Mid- 20th century Hollywood; ‘Raymond Chandler’s LA before Pilates and cell phones’. Clancy Sigal (who would later be the inspiration for Doris Lessing’s ‘Saul Green’) is just back from fighting in the Second World War and an abortive solo attempt to assassinate Hermann Goering at the Nurenburg trials.
Charming his way into a job as an agent with the Sam Jaffe agency, Sigal plunges into a chaotic Hollywood peopled by fast women, washed-up screenwriters, wily directors, and starstruck FBI agents trailing ‘subversives’. He parties with the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Barbara Stanwyck, Tony Curtis and an anxious Peter Lorre, who becomes a drinking buddy.
But this is the era of the Hollywood Blacklist and Sigal, like many of his contemporaries, is subpoenaed to testify before the HUAC. Will he give up the list of nine names, burning a hole in his pocket, to save his own skin?
Hilarious, touching, intimate and revealing: Sigal’s memoir reads like a forgotten hardboiled detective novel and has all the makings of an instant classic.
evokes the Cold War fears of communist subversion, the hidden FBI
microphones, subpoenas, and the naming of names … What stands revealed
is a hypocritical culture and society.
prose style is that of the secret agent in the macho gun-toting sense,
with a side-of-the-mouth, shoulder-holster private-eye delivery out of
Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett.’
Clancy was there, at close range, as [Hollywood screenwriters] went down for the count or got themselves better, on the run from official and unofficial blacklisters.
Sigal brings the innocent and guilty back, once more, at close range, and proves himself the liveliest of literary nonagenarians in the process.
Black Sunset moves with the express swagger of a Hawks or Wellman picture, although it feels like an Ozu once it’s all over and the characters linger in silhouette as if they were a fixture of the freeway system at night.