Making the Elephant Man: A Producer’s Memoir, by Jonathan Sanger ISBN 9781476666624
Five out of five stars
Sanger was the first recipient of the screenplay of what was to become “The Elephant Man” from two unknown writers and proceeded to shop it around until it was sold and made into the critically acclaimed movie. Sanger also worked as a producer on the film and this is his first-person account of those events. Since there have been many “The Making of . . . “ style memoirs, this story is both unique as well as repetitious.
It is unique in the sense that it is about how a specific movie was created, yet it has many features in common with similar chronicles. The search for interest from people that could green light and finance the project, selecting the director, choosing other production people and determining the cast are part of the making of every movie. In the telling of these features there is nothing revelatory in the sense that it snaps the reader to attention.
The most interesting parts are those describing the life of John Merrick, commonly known as the Elephant Man due to his extremely disfigured body. His was a life of suffering until he encountered a kindly doctor and other medical personnel that recognized that Merrick was not an imbecile. Often treated as a circus freak, Merrick generally lived a joyless life and his story is one that will quicken your heart with the strings of sympathy.
If you have seen the movie or are interested in behind-the-scenes Hollywood action, then you will likely find this book interesting. The story is told in what is very much a systematic repeating of the events will little embellishment. There are no temper tantrums or other wild and crazy action so often attributed to entertainment personalities, just the basic autobiography of a fascinating movie.