Listen to the most charming and amusing guest you can imagine (on TV, at a dinner party, anywhere), the great David Niven, as he recalls the director Edmund Goulding’s funeral. Goulding directed a young Niven (he gives Goulding credit for his first screen test) in the 1938 remake of ‘The Dawn Patrol’ and apparently the two chaps were great friends. The British born Goulding is and always has been a hard-to-pin-down character–he directed some bona fide classics (“Grand Hotel’, ‘Nightmare Alley’, ‘Claudia’, ‘The Old Maid’, ‘Dark Victory’, ‘The Razor’s Edge’), wrote novels and plays and was apparently a superb pianist who often snuck one of his own songs, ‘Mamselle’, into the soundtrack of his movies. Niven of course needs no explanation. At this period of his life he was ailing and had published a wonderful memoir called ‘Bring On The Empty Horses’. My copy seems to have disappeared. How does this happen to beloved books? I rarely lend them out so there must be something more otherworldly going on. Perhaps it’s Niven operating from the beyond, spreading copies of his out-of-print book around the world, copping them from readers who have clearly exhausted the contents over the years.


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