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Lambert, Gavin (1924-2005)  
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Best known as a screenwriter, Gavin Lambert was also a novelist and biographer. In his "Hollywood Quartet" works of fiction and his biographies of notable people in the movie industry, he captured the essence of life in the film community in a perceptive and witty fashion.

Lambert was born on July 23, 1924 into what he described as an "upper-middle-class" and "deeply conventional" family in East Grinstead, England. As a child he showed musical talent and won a scholarship to St. George's Preparatory School at Windsor Castle. It was there that, at the age of eleven, he found his first love, a music teacher who told him about the tradition of male love in ancient Greece and took him out to movies, with which Lambert promptly and enduringly also fell in love.

A year and a half later the music teacher was one of three instructors fired as a result of a complaint from a student's parents about another of the men. When questioned about his teacher, Lambert denied that there had been any "violation." The incident, he said, "taught me the price that could be paid for being sexually 'different,' and reminded me never to forget that I had to live in a secret world." Despite that statement, he became quite open about his sexual orientation as an adult. He wrote that he "never made a secret" of his homosexuality, "but was never militant."

Lambert continued his education at Cheltenham College, where he pursued his interest in film and theater. He next enrolled at Magdalen College at Oxford University in 1943, but only remained there for a year. Finding C. S. Lewis, his English literature tutor, antipathetic, he often skipped their scheduled sessions. As a result, the president of Magdalen called Lambert's parents to a meeting at which he announced that their son had not only neglected his studies but also "brought back American soldiers to his rooms at night."

Lambert retorted that he had only "picked up one G.I., in a pub." He apparently omitted mention of his affair with a classmate and his strategy for avoiding military service. When called before the draft board, he chose not to identify himself as gay since homosexuality was criminalized at the time, but he showed up wearing gold eye makeup. Queried about it, he stated, "A friend of mine likes it," and was promptly classified 4F, unfit for service.

After leaving college, Lambert got a job with Gaumont-British, writing scripts for two-minute commercials shown in movie theaters. He also pursued more serious writing, publishing short stories in The Windmill, New Writing, and English Story.

In 1948, with his school and university friend Lindsay Anderson, Lambert co-founded the first serious British film journal Sequence. Although Sequence produced only fifteen issues, it drew notice for its criticism of British films as stuffy and tired compared to the vitality of popular Hollywood offerings, generally disdained by British critics as less artistic than European cinema.

Lambert's work on Sequence caught the eye of Denis Forman, the director of the British Film Institute, who hired him in 1949 to edit the Institute's journal, Sight and Sound, and turn it into a more exciting and contemporary publication, along the lines of Sequence. Lambert served as editor until 1955.

While working at Sight and Sound Lambert also wrote a screenplay. Another Sky, which he filmed in North Africa during a leave of absence in 1954-55, told the story of a strait-laced young woman's awakening to her sexuality while on a visit to Morocco. The low-budget film did poorly at the box office but won praise from the pioneering Spanish director Luis Buñuel and from American director Nicholas Ray, probably best known for Rebel Without a Cause (1955), which starred James Dean.

Lambert and Ray met in London shortly after the release of Another Sky and soon began a romance. Ray brought Lambert to Hollywood as his personal assistant. Lambert worked as a writer on Ray's films Bigger Than Life (1956, uncredited) and Bitter Victory (1957).

In collaboration with T.E.B. Clarke, Lambert wrote the script for Jack Cardiff's Sons and Lovers (1960), which earned them an Academy Award nomination. Lambert received a second Oscar nomination, this time with Lewis John Carlino, for Anthony Page's I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977).

Lambert wrote the script for the screen adaptation of Tennessee Williams's novel The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961, directed by José Quintero). Williams called the movie his favorite among the cinematic productions of his writings, in part because "Gavin has a terrific sense of humor, and all the funny scenes are done well."

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A portrait of Gavin Lambert by Stathis Orphanos.
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