Thursday, May 06, 2010

'Admit One: My Life in Film'

by Emmett James
Non-Fiction/Memoir, 2010
Fizzypop Productions, hardback, 205 p.
From the dust jacket:
First set in Croyden, South London, in the 1980s, Admit One details how Emmett James escaped the pains of adolescence by going to the cinema. With wry, self-deprecating humor and observation, the author reflects on, obsesses over, and rages about film and its correlation to our pasts. Life soon imitates art, and the narrator find that his true calling is in transiting one side of the screen to the other. He decides to leave England for the only place where he can realize his dream of becoming an actor – America.

We then follow the narrator on his numerous Hollywood adventures, watching as he glides smoothly from forgery to pornography to crashing the Academy Awards under the alias of a nominated screenwriter. At every turn, the films that inspired Emmett James as a child resurface, and they serve to contextualize his humorous collection of stories. He provides unique insights into the fascinating world of film, and eventually stumbles into acting in the highest-grossing movie of all time, Titanic.
I know I’ve said before that I don’t read a lot of memoirs and the ones I do read are usually either a moving story of someone who has overcome adversity (Tears of the Desert), or a travel memoir set in a favourite location (French Milk), but this one sounded good as I like England and I like movies, so I thought I’d give it a go. And on the one hand, I quite enjoyed reading this personal memoir of one actor’s journey to Hollywood, from the time he was a young boy, growing up in England, and discovering the joy of the cinema, to following his dream to be an actor and several years later snagging a role in the blockbuster, Titanic, with many amusing stories and adventures along the way.

To be honest though, I did feel that James writing his memoir at all, at this point in his career, was a bit presumptuous, and self-indulgent. His minor role in Titanic is still his biggest role to date so it’s not as if he is a well-known celebrity, not yet anyway. I have to admit I hadn’t heard of him before this book. Plus, by writing this book, James has basically become just like the kid that he tells us about, in his school, bragging in the playground about being an extra in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, showing off the autographs he got from Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg. Here instead we have Emmett showing off the autographs he got from Kate Winslet and James Cameron. Literally. And since the events of his life that he talks about in the book all lead up to his role in Titanic, I wish he had written more about the actual filming, and his experiences on the set of such a huge project, instead of a bizarre incident involving a Mexican taxi. In the book he also freely admits some of the dodgy things he’s done for money, or kicks, over the years so I couldn’t help but wonder if this book is just another money/attention-gathering device. Now he can claim to be an actor AND a writer!

But that said, Emmett doesn’t hesitate to poke fun at himself and some of the most amusing sections of the book are when he recounts one ridiculous, and embarrassing situation or another that he has landed himself in. Like when he stalked a famous director. Or how he unknowingly agreed to appear in a porno. Or any of the other adventures he has had in pursuit of a Hollywood career. And I did chuckle several times as I marvelled at his deviousness.

For the most part, it was a fun read that just goes to show what you can accomplish if you set your mind to it, and if you’re willing to suffer some humiliation along the way. I wish him the best of luck as he continues to work for his own personal Hollywood success story.

Emmett James on
Emmett James on Twitter

Buy Admit One: My Life in Film at | BookDepository

Thank you to Lisa Roe at Online Publicist for the opportunity to read this book.

Also reviewed by:
A Reader's Journal
Blue Archipelago Reviews
Book, Line, and Sinker
Devourer of Books
Educating Petunia
Maw Books Blog
Melody's Reading Corner
Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Out of the Blue
Ready When You Are, C.B.
The Bluestocking Society
The Literate Housewife Review
Violet Crush
So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
For more reviews visit the Admit One publicity page.

The small print:  This book was received free of charge for review purposes.  Links in this post to Amazon (including book cover) or The Book Depository contain my Associates or Affiliates ID respectively.  Purchases made via these links earn me a very small commission.  For more information visit my About Page.


  1. I had never heard of Emmett James either, before reading this review. I'm a bit torn between wanting to read this book and the feeling that I might not enjoy it since it does seem presumptous to write a memoir when you've only appeared in Titanic in a minor role.

  2. Hmmmm. I received this book several months ago and due to personal life just haven't gotten to it yet. I didn't realize that he was an actor--I thought it was more about his love of movies and maybe some relation to his life. I guess I'll get to it eventually...? :)

    PS--noticed that no one has left any links for the NFF challenge. This certainly counts if you want to leave your link! (no pressure of course).


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