Books: Svengali's Revenge

FUN IN A CHINESE LAUNDRY by Josef von Sternberg. 348 pages. Macm/'//arr. $6.95.

Old directors never die—they just become verbose. Take Josef von Sternberg, for example: today he is remembered only as the man who discovered Marlene Dietrich. Clearly there was nothing he could do but write a bitter book and generously distribute the blame.

His autobiography is notable for the acid it exudes. Other Hollywood directors, he remembers distinctly, knew nothing about their craft, the big studio producers rejected anyone with ideas, and the unknowns he ushered into fame —William Powell, Gary Grant—were...

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