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Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-drugs-and Rock 'n' Roll Generation Changed Hollywood Paperback – 27 Sep 1999

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Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-drugs-and Rock 'n' Roll Generation Changed Hollywood + Down and Dirty Pictures + Adventures In The Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood
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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (27 Sept. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747544212
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747544210
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 3.4 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Not only is Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls the best book in recent memory on turn-of-the-70s film, it is beyond question the best book there'll ever be on the subject. Why? Because once the big names who spilled the beans to Biskind find out that other people spilled an equally piquant quantity of beans, nobody will dare speak to another writer with such candor, humour and venom again.

Biskind did 100s of interviews with people who make the President look accessible: Scorsese, Spielberg, Lucas, Coppola, Geffen, Beatty, Kael, Towne, Altman. He also spoke with countless spurned spouses and burned partners, alleged victims of assault by knife, pistol and bodily fluids. Rather more responsible than some of his sources, Biskind always carefully notes the denials as well as the astounding stories he has compiled. He tells you about Scorsese running naked down Mulholland Drive after his girlfriend, crying, "Don't leave me!"; grave robbing on the set of Apocalypse Now; Faye Dunaway apparently flinging urine in Roman Polanski's face while filming Chinatown; Michael O'Donoghue's LSD-fueled swan dive onto a patio; Coppola's mad plan for a 10-hour film of Goethe's Elective Affinities in 3-D; the ocean suicide attempt Hal "Captain Wacky" Ashby gave up when he couldn't find a swimsuit that pleased him; countless dalliances with porn stars; Russian roulette games and psychotherapy sessions in hot tubs. But he also soberly gives both sides ample chance to testify.

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls is also more than a fistful of dazzling anecdotes. Methodically, as thrillingly as a movie attorney, Biskind builds the case that Hollywood was revived by wild ones who then betrayed their own dreams, slit their own throats and destroyed an art form by producing that mindless, inhuman modern behemoth, the blockbuster.

When Spielberg was making the first true blockbuster, Jaws, he sneaked Lucas in one day when nobody was around, got him to put his head in the shark's mechanical mouth and closed the shark's mouth on him. The gizmo broke and got stuck but the two young men somehow extricated Lucas's head and hightailed it like Tom and Huck. As Peter Biskind's scathing, funny, wise book demonstrates, they only thought they had escaped. --Tim Appelo,


'If there is a better book about the inside of the film industry I'd like to see it' Sunday Times 'Biskind has delivered what will become the seminal account of one of the strangest, most exciting decades in American cinema history' Empire 'Thrilling history of the New Hollywood of the 1970s a must-read insider account of the film business' Independent 'Without question, the non-fiction book of the year that just happens to be brimming with snippets of very juicy gossip' The Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John E. Davidson on 26 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
If there is a better book about film then I’d like to read it.
This is, quite simply, the best, most interesting book about film ever written. The book provides a (largely) chronological account of film making in the 1970s – a wonderfully fertile period where ‘New Hollywood’ attempted, and for a while succeeded, in making the director king.
The book is an amazing concoction of sharp analysis about film and filmmaking mixed with scurrilous gossip and titbits about the major players. Quite how he persuaded all these film legends to speak to him with such candour remains a mystery; I suspect few will do so again. Amongst the cast of characters are directors Robert Altman, Hal Ashby, Peter Bogdanovich, Francis Ford Coppola, William Friedkin, George Lucas and his wife Marcia Lucas, John Milius, Paul Schrader, Martin Scorcese, Steven Spielberg and Robert Towne; actors Warren Beatty, Dennis Hopper, Cybill Shepherd and Jack Nicholson covering landmark films such as The Godfather I & II, Taxi Driver, Jaws, Star Wars, The Exorcist and The Last Picture Show.
Biskind writes beautifully, handling a huge topic with an enormous cast of characters deftly. He is assisted by the fact that many of the players and the films are already well-known to the reader but he has a wonderful talent for the one-line character profile (often a one-line character assassination) and he chooses his quotes well. If you are interested in film, and particularly if you share Biskind’s view that the 1970s was a golden era of film, then you will probably enjoy this book. There are a couple of caveats: he plays a little fast and loose with the facts and he loves gossip. He is hard on his subjects: few escape unscathed and some are characterised as positively evil.
An excellent book, worth reading if you can tolerate some of your heroes being tarnished.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jackie Treehorn on 1 Oct. 2006
Format: Paperback
Less a triumph of prose writing,more a triumph of painstaking reportage,Easy Riders,Raging Bulls is,without doubt the daddy of any and all books on the subject of that business we call show.

With 30 years as a hollywood journo under his belt,Peter Biskind is ideally placed to re-examine the '70s in Hollywood,a period which produced a rich and satisfying body of work,while consigning almost all of it's creators into drug induced career burnout.The only real survivors,Spielberg and Lucas,were the ones who gave up on indie cinema and embraced the mainstram with open arms,giving birth to the modern summer blockbuster in the process,whilst other more edgier talents such as Scorcese,were forced to start again at the bottom.

The scandal in this book is deliciously juicy and spares us little or no detail,but it's matched with a fine sense of history and what seems to be genuine regret in Biskinds eyes that the single most exciting and creative period in recent Hollywood history was burned out in less than a decade,as the '80s saw the rise of the uber producers like Joel Silver and Don Simpson.

This is the fall of the Roman Empire,Hollywood style.Without doubt the finest book ever written about Tinseltown.Lap it up,because it could be 20 years before we see another period so rich,or another book so good.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 April 2001
Format: Hardcover
If you're interested in the background of the making of some of Hollywood's best movies (the Godfather, the Exorcist, Taxi Driver), then you should enjoy this often hilarious and always interesting study of filmmaking in the 1970s. The strength of this book is that it simply tells a great story, charting the successes and fallibilities of a group of filmmakers in a way that's enjoyable to read and accessible. And the fact that many of Biskind's "characters" - Beatty, Lucas, Spielberg, Scorcese - are already known to the reader makes the experience even more enjoyable.
Biskind's book suggests that the downfall of the 70s "auteur" style of direction was that Scorcese et al tried to make films of great artistry without paying sufficient attention to the financial demands of the business in which they worked - and this point is well made by the book being framed by the success of Easy Riders at the beginning of the decade and the financial disaster of Heaven's Gate in 1980. Given that we are seeing an increase at present in the number of mainstream movies that are also self-consciously "artistic" (such as American Beauty, Traffic, etc), the relevance of this books to filmmaking today is huge. But Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, could be read and enjoyed by anyone. It's a pity that this book is never likely to be adapted for cinema itself - since it gives a portrayal of the rise and fall of a group of 70s filmmakers that has the narrative pace, style and drama to make a great movie. Strongly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Jan. 2000
Format: Paperback
There are thousands of books on the film industry, but few offer the insight and entertainment value of this tome which is both weighty and authoritative, absorbing and fascinating. The subjects Ð put succinctly Ð are the maverick directors and producers of the late Sixties Ð including Stephen Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Dennis Hopper, Peter Bogdanovich, Francis Coppola and William Friedkin Ð who took on the studio system, challenged their existing processes and conservatism and reshaped the business in the Seventies. The sad conclusion is that they ultimately pushed the realities of business to breaking point, leaving the industry back where it started. Jam-packed full of hilarious anecdotes and snappy one-liners, it tells the story of the excess Ð of alcohol, drugs and money Ð which ultimately led to the self-destruction of the brave new hopes of the American movie business. It is a fantastic achievement by Biskind. I can't wait for his next book.
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