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David Thomson is the author of The Whole Equation: A History of
Hollywood, The New Biographical Dictionary of Film and a book on Nicole
Kidman, to be published in September (all from Knopf). He lives in San Francisco.
Admired from a distance and reviled up close, Laurence Olivier
could establish a relation with his audience that was like an
infection. His official biography chronicles a personal life of an
actor who altered the cultural compass of a nation.