Black Sunset (Paperback)
Hollywood Sex, Lies, Glamour, Betrayal, and Raging Egos
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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
were both union organizers, and he was largely raised solely by his
mother, Jennie, After
a stint in the army Sigal was a union organiser in Detroit, then a
talent agent in Hollywood. Escaping the Macarthyite witch-hunts, he
emigrated to Great Britain, where he
met and commenced a four-year affair with the writer Doris Lessing. He
returned to the US, married, and with his wife co-wrote the
oscar-winning 2002 Salma Hayek movie Frida. He died in 2017.
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 … Sigal's
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.
Sigal stumbles into Hollywood […] lands the most reviled job in the biz – talent agent – and this milieu is where most of Black Sunset takes place, haunted by the Wink and by a conspiracy of accidents.
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.