This past March I had the pleasure to spend some time talking with Mr. Bruce Dern at The National Festival of the West in Scottsdale, Arizona. I must admit that I approached it with apprehension. Would he be normal? Would he yell at me or shoot me in the back like he did the Duke in The Cowboys, or go bonkers like he did in Silent Running, or Black Sunday?
I'm happy to say that Bruce Dern is not only a normal, likable person, but he is quite entertaining. For the better part of an hour for three days running he told some great stories and had the audience eating out of his hand. For a panel moderator such as myself, I was very pleased, he made my job entertaining and easy.
Many of the stories he told are right out of his new autobiography, Things I've Said, But Probably Shouldn't Have: An Unrepentant Memoir. That subtitle is important to remember, for this memoir is quite unrepentant. Take, for example, the comment that he should have gotten some of Peter Fonda's roles because Fonda wasn't a good actor. Or talking about the photograph — which Mickey Rooney carried in his wallet — of Judy Garland in a sexual act. Then there's his retelling of his time before the camera making love to Maud Adams — no, actually having sex — in Tattoo, something that Adams naturally disputes.
There are some mistakes, like calling Elia Kazan a Jew when he was actually raised Catholic, but who's quibbling when the book is so rich with interesting tidbits?
Written with co-author Robert Crane and contributor Christopher Fryer, this book is so rich in anecdotes that you will feel you are actually there with Dern, Jack Nicholson, Roger Corman, Alfred Hitchcock, John Wayne and all the rest the actor talks candidly about.
If you enjoy a truly terrific autobiography, one that's totally unsanitized, Things I've Said, But Probably Shouldn't Have is a must!