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The Secret Life of Edward James

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The Secret Life of Edward James

The Secret Life of Edward James, George Melly's documentary film from 1975. The film is a biography of surrealist art collector Edward James. James was patron of René Magritte, Leonora Carrington and Salvador Dalí (the Mae West Lips sofa was originally designed for his house Monkton), and lived the only life a responsible aristocrat can lead: inventing impossibilities and flouting convention.

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James' life is a catalogue of incredible moments: the argument of his royal paternity, defacing his Lutyens-designed home with surrealist flair, his scandalous divorce and bisexual forays. All of this was a prelude to his final monument: Las Pozas. A surrealist sculpture garden filled with gigantic concrete structures that burst out of the Mexican jungle, it is full of needless and wonderful invention.

Not screened since its first appearance over 35 years, this film is a serious addition to the canon of British eccentricity. Jazz musician and art historian George Melly teases out James' unique character as only a fellow member of the rarefied clan could. The Coelacanth Journal's 7th issue on the theme of 'High Rise'.

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