Lisa Schwarzbaum
February 16, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

Leni

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Steven Bach
publisher
Knopf
genre
Nonfiction, Biography

We gave it a B

Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl, to be released in March by Hollywood insider Steven Bach, is colorful and arch, with much eyebrow-raising in disbelief at the discrepancies between the filmmaker and Nazi propagandist’s words and deeds.

Another recent biographer, 36-year-old German academic Jürgen Trimborn, refers dispassionately to his subject as ”Riefenstahl” in his more direct, clear-eyed take on the director, Leni Riefenstahl: A Life; Bach, on the other hand, condescendingly calls her ”Leni.” While he keeps track of her sex life and offers movie-biz details bound to interest U.S. readers, especially about Riefenstahl’s less-than-successful 1938 U.S. visit to promote Olympia, he never misses a chance to roll his eyes conspiratorially. The PR tour, for instance, was ”a display of what Leni’s target audience in Hollywood might have called chutzpah. The American film industry was heavily Jewish, and while Leni claimed to have wept for her Jewish friends, she deftly concealed her emotions.” With facts so forcefully presented, such sarcasm is superfluous — something the director would have cut from one of her finely edited movies. B

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