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.