George Stevens Jr, the son of illustrious director George Stevens Jr recounts his life in his memoir My Place in the Sun. Stevens Jr highlights his career, spanning Hollywood and Washington, and gives an insight into the relationship between himself and his father.
It was no surprise George Stevens Jr would end up in Hollywood with his father a prominent figure, growing up here he worked with his father on pictures such as The Diary of Anne Frank (1958), Shane (1953), and the aptly named A place in the sun (1951). His family’s history in the arts made it almost certain Stevens Jr would branch out into the arts with not only his father being part of the industry but his grandparents Landers Stevens, Georgie Cooper, and Alice Howell being actors, the latter being one of the most successful and prevalent comediennes of the 1920s.
The memoir illustrates how Stevens Jr almost doubted himself and his future as he regularly compared himself to his successful father. Despite this he continues to illustrate his father’s principles, wanting a rigorous work ethic, integrity, and respect for the audience to be prevalent in his own career-this is certainly something apparent in his memoir.
However, despite his doubts, his career took off when being hired to work at the United States Information Agency. His time in politics was profound and saw him beginning what was known as the Golden Age of USIA filmmaking-the book discusses this in detail, showing the bridge between Hollywood and Washington smaller than ever.
Stevens Jr then continues to talk about how his career spiraled with awards such as an Oscar being given to him. The book notes this and gives an insight that many would never know, looking through the fourth wall to the world of Hollywood.
The book is neither serious nor hard to chew, with Stevens taking a relaxed and anecdotal tone when describing his life’s work. He makes what was a busy and illustrious career an easy read, it is not overwhelming, complex, or hard to remember. Quite like his father’s principles the book respects the audience and talks directly with it- the relaxed tone makes for an easy read.
It reads more like a conversation over coffee with one of Hollywood’s greats than a lecture by a political figure. Steven’s fear of being lesser than his father rings true for many people in America and makes it a great read for those struggling to find themself or their passion- it is especially pertinent for those working in the film industry or looking to bring a political spin to their art.
The book not only recounts Stevens Jr and his father’s careers but provides insight into the world of Hollywood’s golden age and the more hidden aspects of Washington and American politics. The book acts not just as a memoir for one of Hollywood’s greats but also as a part of American history and culture, to be read and studied far into the future.