BOOK REVIEW BY MM
The autobiography ‘Kiss Me Quick Before I Shoot’ by Guy Magar is the story of how the son of Egyptian immigrants fleeing from Abdel Nasser’s 1958 Egyptian revolution became a mainstream jobbing director in Hollywood. By way of Egypt, France and the US Guy Magar’s story relates his journey from immigrant to hippy culture to failed engineering student to film-maker by way of the London Film School and the American Film Institute. Mr Magar’s journey is recognisable to other film-maker’s such as myself. His adventures in the world of film-making ring true to all of us who have been on the same journey and who have come out on the other side with the kind of success that is most definitely attainable. Guy Magar’s book appealed to me because he describes an attainable success through hard work and good luck and what he describes is a great life. There are very few who achieve the super-stardom of the Coppolas or the Spielbergs but then again this book is not for them.
The draw back to ‘Kiss Me Quick’ is in the way the book is structured and its aim. My first question was who is Guy Magar and why am I reading about him? Is it because I am interested in his film-making career or because I am interested in a man whose career just happens to be that of a film-maker? The fact that I had never heard of him (per se) leads me to believe that I was attracted to reading the book because I wanted to know more about his experiences as a film-maker and I suspect the general public will be attracted for the same reason. There are many different ways to tell your life story. For instance, I have just read a book by an author who structured his life story around words beginning with the letter ‘C’! But in this case I am flummoxed by the Mr Magar’s structure which seesaws between his history, his experiences, practical film-making advice, his love story with his wife, her cancer, back to practical experience and it seemed to me in random time order. If this book was a film script he would have ordered a re-write! His experiences in the film and TV world are fun to read and his advice is very grounded and very good for any wanna-be film-maker. He directed some of the great and fun series of the 1980s and 1990s – The A Team, Blue Thunder, La Femme Nikita, The Young Riders, Lawless, Hunter among others and two horror feature films Retribution and Children of the Corn – Revelation. I am, however, not really sure how his wife’s illness and his reaction and subsequent care for her affected or affects his film-making journey. For instance he never made a film or documentary about her illness. In other words her illness did not (at least within the confines of this autobiography) make an impact on his career in anyway other than that fact that he gave up working while looking after her. In fact none of his work reflects his personal experiences including his own illness. Mr Magar is a strictly commercial man. This is something I have great respect for because he does not hide his commercialism behind ‘so called’ art. And though I understand that he probably wanted to carve in stone his love for his wife, this book was maybe not the right place to do it as it took away from the impact of the rest of the book.
The ending also left me a little flummoxed as yet again the subject matter deviated from autobiography to outright political opinion on the state of lying politicians in American culture and a hard sell of his services and short film festival. Kiss Me Quick Before I Shoot is a little like the curate’s egg – good in parts.