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Film critic Barry Norman reveals white-knuckle star encounters

books Updated: Sep 25, 2013 16:23 IST
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Excerpts from the autobiography of British film critic and TV host Barry Norman reveal unusual encounters with Robert De Niro, Mel Gibson and John Wayne.

Writing for UK listings magazine Radio Times, Norman, who presented the BBC's weekly Film program for a quarter of a century, offered a preview of events discussed in "See You in the Morning," due for publication on September 26.

After antagonizing Robert De Niro, inflammatory Travis Bickle in "Taxi Driver," with an uncomfortable question, the pair ended up "nose to nose snarling at each other."

Another verbal tussle with John Wayne, this time over the rights and wrongs of the Vietnam War, resulted in the prominent Republican and "True Grit" star calling Norman a "goddamn pinko liberal" before pitching up from his seat "with the obvious intention of thumping me."

His prickly brush with Mel Gibson came during a shared dinner when the two disagreed over who was taller.

Standing back to back on the suggestion of a fellow dinner guest, Norman said he could "feel him going up on tiptoe behind me so that the top of his head would reach the same level as mine, whereupon the diplomatic soul pronounced us of equal height and Gibson said: 'See? I told you so.'"

But though his upcoming memoir covers Norman's time as a show business journalist and prominent film entertainment broadcaster, "See You in the Morning" is centered around his relationship with Diana, his wife of 53 years, who herself was an accomplished reporter, a novelist, and mother of their two children.