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This article is taken from PN Review 75, Volume 17 Number 1, September - October 1990.

Christopher Isherwood: Getting Things Right Thom Gunn


WHEN I FIRST MET Christopher Isherwood he was fifty and I was twenty-five, but I never for a moment felt that he was twice my age. We immediately started speaking together like long-time friends who hadn't met in years. He was tanned and youthful-looking, the famous bright eyes alert and observant; he perfectly adapted himself to his listener; his conversation was enthusiastic, lively, funny; and I said to myself, this is the way I want to age.

Gore Vidal has recorded lunching with him at MGM during the filming of Diane, a movie nobody ever saw, and this was the same summer, 1955. After we had talked for a while, Isherwood took me on the set, where I was eventually introduced to two of the leads, Roger Moore and Marisa Pavan, the King and Queen of France. I was not introduced to Lana Turner, who played Diane de Poitiers and, when visible at all, was kept at a star's distance, hedged in by attendants. Isherwood had warned me that he would have to leave me from time to time, but I was engrossed in watching the repeated takes of a short scene. It took place during an elaborate court banquet on a table forming three sides of a square, at the head of which the King, standing gallantly behind Diane, had to lean over and spear a strawberry with a fork to pop into her mouth. It went wrong again and again - now ...

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