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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

March 21, 1993|Michael Arkush

STAGES OF LIFE IN THEATER, FILM AND TELEVISION by Norman Lloyd (Limelight Editions: $14.95, paper; 266 pp.). Chaplin, Welles, Hitchcock, Renoir: They were Norman Lloyd's friends and colleagues in his years as an actor in Hollywood. But unlike the usual anecdotal fare, there's little name-dropping in his recollections of those years; more of an "aesthetic memoir," "Stages of Life" tries to capture a creative process that, Lloyd says, has gone by the wayside. Focusing on technical styles--from Hitchcock's fascination with the crab dolly to Welles' theatricality--Lloyd's memoir explains what was on the minds of directors and actors in just about every movie or theater work he completed.

Like many screen artists who began working in the 1940s (Lloyd's most recent appearance was in a 1992 episode of "Murder, She Wrote"), Lloyd, now 78, is nostalgic about the golden age: "People were passionate about the movies they made," he remembers, citing David Selznick's zealous efforts to make "Gone With the Wind." They had a dream, a fantasy. Today, the deal is what matters."

Lloyd was critical of the high-powered studio system that ran Hollywood then. He sees things differently now: "We didn't know how lucky we were. Today, the star is the power, and while actors can apply a lot of intelligence, they don't have perspective." Lloyd, who now lives in Brentwood, tries to keep the memory of those golden years alive by remaining in touch with the relatives of its major players, from "Charlie" (his regular tennis partner) and "Hitch" (a frequent lunch partner) to Renoir ("He was like family"). With this book, he hopes to do the same.

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