This Terrible Business Has Been Good to Me: An Autobiography


304 pages
Contains Photos, Index
ISBN 1-55263-211-3
DDC 791.4302'33'092





Reviewed by Chris Knight

Chris Knight is the senior movie reviewer at the National Post.


You might not expect a famous movie director to be dazzled by the
spotlights at the Academy Awards. But Norman Jewison was. The filmmaker,
who has worked with such stars as Denzel Washington, Anne Bancroft, and
Steve McQueen, is, in the final analysis, just a local boy made good
from east-end Toronto.

He maintains this gee-whiz wonder and charm throughout his
autobiography, as though he can’t quite believe this life is happening
to him. Meeting John Wayne in 1966 “scared the hell out of me.”
Working with an older, more experienced screenwriter on In the Heat of
the Night, Jewison would highlight problem areas of the script and then
“forget” the problem. The writer, taking a second look, would decide
to rewrite—or else Jewison would read lines he didn’t like “as if
I were Don Adams in Get Smart.” Dime-store psychology (appropriate
since his parents ran a corner store) got him further than many
directors’ tantrums and bluster.

For someone whose work includes Moonstruck, Fiddler on the Roof, The
Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, and the original Thomas
Crown Affair, Jewison’s book has an intimate, fly-on-the-wall feeling.
He knows what makes a good story, from his stint as a 21-year-old extra
on 1948’s Canadian Pacific (the kid didn’t stay in the picture) to
getting into the mind of a card player for The Cincinnati Kid to
commissioning what would become an Oscar-winning song for The Thomas
Crown Affair (“The Windmills of Your Mind”) to receiving the
Thalberg Award at the 1999 Oscars, where he was blinded by the lights.

Without hyperbole, boasting, or vanity, Jewison sets out the facts of
his life simply and quietly. That alone makes for a cracking good read.


Jewison, Norman., “This Terrible Business Has Been Good to Me: An Autobiography,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,