Spring 2012

Luck and Circumstance: A Coming of Age in Hollywood, New York, and Points Beyond
(Knopf, 288 pages, $26)
By Michael Lindsay-Hogg

Luck and Circumstance Book Michael Lindsay-Hogg—or to apply his full honorific, Sir Michael Edward Lindsay-Hogg, 5th Baronet—has lived a transatlantic life of such incident and diverse experience that one’s amazed he squeezed it all into fewer than 300 pages. Despite having been an accomplished director of theater (originating such hits as Agnes of God, The Normal Heart); of television (Brideshead Revisited, and endless work for the BBC), and of movies (Frankie Starlight and The Object of Beauty), it’s likely that Lindsay-Hogg’s name will be writ largest in the history of music documentaries and music television. After graduating from the frenetic and trailblazing Friday night music show Ready, Steady, Go!, which showcased the emergent Mod bands of Swinging London, he was chosen by The Beatles to film “promo clips” so that the group could “appear” on Top of the Pops even when they were touring. Similar work for The Rolling Stones soon followed, mushrooming into The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, an incendiary concert show that wasn’t broadcast until nearly 30 years later.

And then in 1970 came Let It Be, in which The Beatles slowly unraveled before our eyes. Lindsay-Hogg’s descriptions of these legends, their temperaments and idiosyncrasies, and the various technical and interpersonal leaps required are interspersed with Lindsay-Hogg’s no less fascinating personal life as the Hollywood-raised son of an absent English nobleman and Irish actress Geraldine Fitzgerald. As a child he lived two beach houses down from William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies, and his mother’s friends were a who’s-who of Hollywood and Broadway titans, chief among them the intoxicating Orson Welles.

Welles, a lover of Fitzgerald’s in the late ’30s, looms large after Fitzgerald off-handedly informs her son that despite any rumors he may have heard, he is not Welles’ son. One look in the mirror told another story and for most of his life Lindsay-Hogg wavered between the certainty that he was Welles’ junior, and the equal certainty that he was not. His memoir is filled with a warm tone, wise sensibility, wit a-plenty, and pitch-perfect reminiscence.

Review written by John Patterson.


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