The figurative language of Frank Langella

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I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a series of similes and metaphors from actor Frank Langella….

I’ve long admired the acting of Frank Langella, (pictured above), and never more so than for his portrayal of Richard Nixon in the remarkable 2008 film Frost/Nixon. (In fact, as I line up my pandemic viewing, I think I might just watch it again.)

When I heard Langella had written a gossip-y book about other actors, I added it to my list of summer reading. And I wasn’t disappointed. In addition to having led a fascinating life, he also turns out to be a pretty respectable writer, with a strong range of figurative language at his command.

Here are my favourite examples from his book, Dropped Names:

  • As [Marilyn Monroe] emerged fully, a long white coat emerging with her like hot steam freeing itself from inside an opened shower door, my heart began to pound.
  • To be twenty-three years old in 1961 was tantamount to having a million-dollar lottery ticket blow into your face on a windy day.
  • Married couples, it seems to me, have enough trouble surviving the institution without the extra burden of their names being publicly attached to each other like frozen Popsicle sticks.
  • One evening at the home of composers Marilyn and Alan Bergman sometime in the early 1980s I watched him work the room like a cordless vacuum cleaner, sucking up celebrity droppings.
  • It was a perfectly glorious afternoon. The cherry blossoms were voluptuously in bloom and a steady breeze sent them wafting gently across my face.
  • Afterward he showed no interest in milling around or greeting us, but stepped off the little platform that had been placed for him, shook Kazan’s hand, and passed through us as one might a group of lepers when spotting, in the distance, the last boat leaving the island.
  • The absolute quiet of the room and the close proximity to the Royal Family gave me a slightly giddy Forrest Gump feeling as they chatted amicably and made their way toward me.
  • “And she [Elizabeth Taylor] can’t be late.” Which was like asking Stevie wonder not to be blind.
  • I entered their lives with very little life experience of my own; if not exactly wet behind the ears then certainly very, very damp.
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