Picks and Pans Review: Finch, Bloody Finch

updated 11/17/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/17/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Elaine Dundy

Peter Finch won a posthumous Academy Award in 1977 for his performance in Network, after having played opposite Elizabeth Taylor (Elephant Walk), Audrey Hepburn (The Nun's Story) and Glenda Jackson (Sunday, Bloody Sunday). The illegitimate son of upper-class British parents, Finch was passed from home to home, ending up in Australia with a woman whose discipline bordered on tyranny. He escaped into acting, married three times and in between drank and womanized across several continents. Finch had a tumultuous affair with Vivien Leigh, who, with her husband, Sir Laurence Olivier, had discovered Finch in Australia in 1948. The facts are all here. Dundy's simplistic prose, however, renders Finch's complexity trivial; she records his charm, while failing to bring to life his confusion. It's a disappointment, considering the chaos she successfully evoked in her novel The Dud Avocado. This biography resembles a lifeless Hollywood version of a Dickens story. (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, $14.95)

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