Jack Hawkins has always been one of my favourite actors, so it was a real treat to read this self-penned account of his early life, his theatre work, movies and his battle with cancer. Though initially only interested in theatre, Hawkins eventually made it onto the big screen and from 1953, his film work seems to have overtaken his stage career. Actors often view their successes very differently to their fans, so it was no surprise to learn that epic movies like Land of the Pharaohs didn’t hit the mark from his point of view. My own favourites are the excellent The Cruel Sea (the break-through movie in respect of his film career), The League of Gentlemen (see below) and of course Zulu, which Hawkins has plenty to say about.
Much is made of the throat problems that dogged him later in life and which doctors eventually identified as cancer. The descriptions of the various treatments he underwent are pretty nasty, but never seemed to put him off pursuing his career. One of the odd things about this book is the final section, written by his wife Dee after his death, which again, focuses on the medical challenges of Jack’s final months. It’s strange that she goes into such great detail, recounting the many incidents where her husband suffered terrible bleeding from his throat. In some ways I’d have preferred not to have read this last section, and instead remembered the many great roles Jack Hawkins is famous for.
An interesting read that’ll appeal to fans of this great British actor.