Just finished reading John B. Murray’s biography of Brett Halsey, Brett Halsey: Art or Instinct in the Movies, and thought I’d scribble down a few quick notes. Overall it’s a good book, full of fascinating information: about Brett’s assorted marriages, his career in Hollywood and Europe, his long-term stints on daytome soap operas. Most of it is made up of memories and anecdotes, so it’s very much an official biography, and perhaps its major faults are that (a) it’s light on criticism (an analysis of his films would be very much appreciated) and (b) it’s thematically rather than chronologically arranged, which sometimes makes it difficult to keep track. As with most Midnight Marquee books (The EuroSpy Guide included) it’s also possibly a bit weak on indexing and annotations.
But these are minor quibbles, and Murray is to be applauded for writing a very readable account of Halsey’s life and, more importantly, going out and interviewing both Halsey and a lot of other people who were involved with his career. There’s lots of information about directors such as Riccardo Freda, Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci and Alberto Cardone, and Halsey also has a lot of insight into why the Italian film industry has declined so much (he puts forward the view that the very success of the industry was later the cause of its own downfall: in the sixties Italian genre films filled a gap in the market because they’d been made less economically viable in the US because of TV, but they declined as TV became more widespread in Italy throughout the 70s).