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Include Me Out: My Life from Goldwyn to Broadway
Written by James Colt Harrison   

farley_granger120.jpgFirst it was '50s teen idol Tab Hunter who opened his heart and mouth about his secret private life in Tab Hunter Confidential. Now it's Farley Granger, with author Robert Calhoun who tells all in Include Me Out: My Life from Goldwyn to Broadway.

We get an insight into the independently minded young star from his early days until the present when Granger says in the book, "I had no interest in becoming a household name or in playing by the rules to become a movie star. I was following my heart and doing what I had to do." Now 81, Granger has followed his own star and lived to love it.

Born July 1, 1925 in San Jose, Granger and his family moved to Southern California where he attended North Hollywood High School. Always interested in the arts, he began performing at school in plays and musicals. Granger relates the classic Hollywood story about having a talent scout in the audience of one of his high school plays who offered him a movie contract at Samuel Goldwyn Studios. At age 17 he found himself walking the sound stages at the prestigious studio that had the Oscar-winning The Best Years of Our Lives with Fredric March, The Little Foxes with Bette Davis and Wuthering Heights with Laurence Olivier to its credit.

Goldwyn immediately cast Granger as a young Russian in the Lillian Hellman war epic The North Star (1943). Hellman was not happy with the picture and feared Goldwyn had turned it into a turkey. They had a violent fight about rewriting the film, but her predictions were right and the film was a huge flop.

Granger survived that ordeal, but was bewildered most of the time at the studio because Goldwyn really didn't know what to do with him. The next film was almost similar to the first, and The Purple Heart (1944) didn't do much for the young actor.

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Granger in
They Live By Night
In the meantime, the U.S. Navy called and Granger had to fulfill his World War II duties. Upon returning to Hollywood, his first assignment was on loan-out to director Nicholas Ray for They Live By Night (1948). Granger had earlier missed out on an opportunity to play the amputee in The Best Years of Our Lives with Myrna Loy.

 

Shelley Winters became Granger's life-long friend after they initially had a hot romance. Granger had several conquests notched on his belt, including Ava Gardner and Janice Rule, the original Broadway star of Picnic. Marlene Dietrich showed interest as well. Granger discusses his bisexual nature and outlines his affair with Leonard Bernstein with honesty. In this day and age it's no shocker, but back in the 1940s it was a taboo subject.

Alfred Hitchcock called and soon Granger was on the set for the psychological thriller Rope in 1948. The actor felt the film was a technological marvel, with Hitch designing all the scenes, camera movements, and actor placements before they shot the film. Granger and actor John Dall played two teens who performed a "thrill kill" of another boy to see if they could create the perfect murder, based on the famous Loeb-Leopold murder.

Rope was written by Arthur Laurents, and the two men soon began living together. Their affair lasted four years, during which for subterfuge, they both dated pretty young actresses.  

Granger's next big break came from Alfred Hitchcock with Strangers on a Train in 1951. A psychopath played by Robert Walker meets Guy Haines (Granger) on a train and proposes they swap murders of people in their lives. The taut thriller became an enormous hit and the biggest of Granger's film career.

Goldwyn wanted Farley Granger to remain a teen idol and cast him in a series of bombs that did nothing for the actor's career. Granger was furious with Goldwyn and wanted to get out of his contract. In his book Granger openly discusses his personal reasons and why he was totally dissatisfied with his films.

He was next sent to Italy to make the hit film Senso with famed Italian director Luchino Visconti in 1954. It had dialogue by Tennessee Williams and Paul Bowles. Granger managed to sink his teeth into the heartless and cynical soldier character and received his best reviews. The film's success made him more eager to get out of his studio contract.

After protracted arguments with Goldwyn, Granger had to buy back his contract and pay his boss many thousands of dollars. But at last he was free to pursue his dream of stage stardom. He moved to New York and began a new phase of his career on Broadway and on television, which has lasted for more than 50 years.

DATA ABOUT THE BOOK

Include Me Out: My Life from Goldwyn to Broadway

  • St. Martin's Press, New York (Nov, 2007)
  • ISBN 0-312-35773-7
  • Hardcover
  • 255 pages
  • $26.95.

Photo Credits: St. Martin's Press Book, Farley Granger, RKO Radio Pictures Inc

 



                       

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