George Brent - Ireland's Gift to Hollywood and its Leading Ladies
 Bette Davis answered, “George Brent” whenever asked to name her favorite co-star. Her longtime crush on the actor (they teamed in eleven films) culminated in an off-screen affair while filming Dark Victory (1939) for which she received an Oscar nomination and Brent gave what many consider his “finest performance.” Hollywood's top stars clamored to play opposite Brent, who infused his easy-going warmth into such blockbuster films as 42nd Street (1933). Before long, Garbo demanded that MGM cast him opposite her in The Painted Veil (1934). Brent was perfect foil for cinema's leading ladies: Ruth Chatterton (his second wife), Ginger Rogers, Loretta Young, Claudette Colbert, Barbara Stanwyck, Myrna Loy, Kay Francis, Olivia de Havilland, Joan Fontaine, Hedy Lamarr, Merle Oberon, and Ann Sheridan (his fourth wife). Not to be pigeonholed Brent's perfection as the dissipated Englishman in The Rains Came (1939) and surprise turn as the heavy in The Spiral Staircase (1946) fueled the longevity of his career.

The personal life of George Brent remained undercover. Upon signing with Warner Bros., studio publicity fabricated a back-story for Brent: a graduate of Dublin University (he dropped out of school at 16); a player in the Abbey Theatre (for which no record exists); a dead mother (who was very much alive); and, a dispatcher for Michael Collins during the Irish Revolution (this . . . was true).

Brent's biography offers a fascinating look into the life of Hollywood's elusive lone wolf.  Scott O'Brien, whose biography on Ruth Chatterton made The Huffington Post's “Best Film Books of 2013,” abetted by Irish filmmaker Brian Reddin, sheds new light on Ireland's gift to Hollywood and its leading ladies: George Brent.    

(Foreword by Wesleyan University's Chair of Film Studies, Jeanine Basinger.) 331 pages with 125 illustrations capture the glamour and private world of Hollywood's Golden Age.

Moira |
11/01/2014

Very well researched, sympathetic but clear-eyed biography of the sometimes underrated George Brent by author Scott O'Brien deserves to be read by anyone who cherishes classic films, especially those from Warner Bros. studios. The author also conducted an interesting Q & A about this subject in great detail at
The Silver Screen Oasis in Oct., 2014.
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