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John Mills's life in the theater; Up in the Clouds, Gentlemen Please, by John Mills. New Haven and New York: Ticknor and Fields. $14.95.

John Mills's autobiography offers intimate views of a career that has spanned over 50 years in theater, television, and films, including "Great Expectations," "Cavalcade," and "Of Mice and Men." Mills's many anecdotes about such friends and acquaintances as Noel Coward, Laurence Olivier, David Lean, and Lord Mountbatten reveal him to be amusing and tolerant and to enjoy humor at his own expense.

From the story of his earliest success with an acting company touring the Far East during the sunset of the British Empire to an Oscar in 1969 for "Ryan's Daughter," the book is largely a collection of personal experiences, not a detailed theatrical history. The style throughout is candid but not confessional. It never approaches the scandal-raking revelations that seem to be the only point of so many star bios. I put this one down with the feeling of having spent a memorable evening with a charming, fascinating, considerate man.

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