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Star: The Life and Wild Times of Warren Beatty [Paperback]

Peter Biskind
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 Jan 2011
In this compulsively readable and constantly surprising book, Peter Biskind, the author of the film classics Easy Riders, Raging Bulls and Down and Dirty Pictures, writes the most intimate, revealing, and balanced biography ever of Hollywood legend Warren Beatty. Famously a playboy, Beatty has also been one of the most ambitious and successful stars in Hollywood. Several Beatty films have passed the test of time, from Bonnie and Clyde to Shampoo, Heaven Can Wait, Reds (for which he won the best director Oscar), Bugsy, and Bulworth. Few filmgoers realize that along with Orson Welles, Beatty is the only person ever nominated for four Academy Awards for a single film -- and unlike Welles, Beatty did it twice. Biskind shows how Beatty used star power, commercial success, savvy, and charm to bend Hollywood moguls to his will. Beatty's private life has been the subject of gossip for decades, and Star confirms his status as Hollywood's leading man in the bedroom, describing his affairs with Joan Collins, Natalie Wood, Leslie Caron and Madonna, among many others. Biskind explains how Beatty exercised unique control, often hiring screenwriters out of his own pocket, producing, directing, and acting in his own films. He was arguably one of the most successful and creative figures in Hollywood during the second half of the twentieth century, and in this fascinating biography, Warren Beatty comes to life -- complete with excesses and achievements -- as never before.

Frequently Bought Together

Star: The Life and Wild Times of Warren Beatty + Gods and Monsters: Thirty Years of Writing on Film and Culture + Seeing Is Believing: How Hollywood Taught Us to Stop Worrying and Love the Fifties
Price For All Three: 29.67

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Product details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (6 Jan 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849830444
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849830447
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 41,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


“This exhaustively researched bio is as undeniably compelling as the man himself.” —Keith Staskiewicz, "Entertainment Weekly"

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beatty Tome 4 Dec 2010
By Mooch
As a biography, this is perhaps a failure - Peter Biskind does not really justify his early claim that Warren Beatty has led 'one of the great 20th Century lives' and getting lots of people to say bad things about the film-maker is not the same as getting under his skin. However, this was not really intended to be a conventional biography anyway. We are told virtually nothing of the star's childhood / family life etc, indeed we get past page 150 before we learn that Warren is not Beatty's first name. As the author says, he can only describe Beatty, not explain him. Instead it is a fascinating appraisal of a brilliant career and an imperfect man, whose boundless ambition and perfectionism (containing within it the fatal flaws of control-freakery and chronic indecisiveness) led him to scale glorious heights but - nearly as often - snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Beginning just before Splendour in the Grass and continuing past the star's most recent film, Town & Country, the book charts the films, the spats, the womanizing and the politicking all in Biskind's characteristically punchy prose. Beatty has co-operated with the book, after a fashion, but is largely on hand to merely correct other people's versions of events, not to offer any self-analysis. Unfortunatley several key people have declined to speak with the author including long-time friends and collaborators Robert Towne and Jack Nicholson. Plenty of people have spoken though and the book is chock-full of stories, good and bad.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
For a man who looks, as far as the photos would suggest, pretty much perfect, his inner persona seems at odds. Certainly, according to the author, Beatty strives for perfection but yet finds himself incapable of dealing conclusively with his personal relationships. As for the maths, the author calculates that his subject matter has bedded nearly thirteen thousand women over thirty years. Well, where did he find the time to be as good a film star/actor, producer and writer as he appears to be? And these appearances are not deceptive, witness Bonny & Clyde just as one example; fans can and will list all the other films and even if some were hopeless, he still found the time to be in them. So, obviously fatigue has now played its part, as he appears to be wrapped up in domestic bliss; mind you, in his early seventies, it's maybe time he was.

The book is big on only part of Beatty's life and given that it's over 600 pages, it's perhaps as well we've been spared much of the earlier years. However, if you need an insight into a man and his image, this book can do no wrong. The author has certainly done his homework and is obviously a big fan before he wrote the first paragraph. I guess if Dick Tracy and Warren Beatty were interchanged, would we notice the difference? Well, yes, I suppose so. One's an American idol and the other's an....Mmmmm, I see what you mean. If you are a fan, you'll enjoy this book. If not, you can dip in and out, taking snapshots of people, films, the industry, the names and still feel there's unlikely to be anyone quite like Warren Beatty ever again. Ladies, don't all sigh at once.
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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  40 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Commentary on Movie-Making 21 Jan 2010
By Book Lover - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
More interesting that Warren Beatty's conquests, beyond-belief narcissism and generally callous behavior toward his colleagues is what is revealed about the challenges of getting a movie to the screen. If you are interested in the larger overview of movie-making, getting through the more superficial stuff is worth the effort.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much More Than an Entertainment Bio 27 Jan 2010
By IVE - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Peter Biskind is a reknowned film writer who has a special affinity for the 1960s and 70s, a time when the movie industry experienced a tectonic shift and Warren Beatty was at its epicenter. Beatty is perhaps the single greatest example of a living artist who straddled both "old" and "new" Hollywood, so a complete bio of him serves also as a historical document of the evolution of film making. Readers seeking nothing more than sexual gossip will likely be somewhat disappointed, as Beatty's legendary exploits are presented against the much larger canvas of his arduous, sometimes decades-long struggles to bring films such as Reds to fruition. In Biskind's capable hands Beatty transcends easy categorization and is revealed to be fiercely intelligent, visionary, and eccentric -- in other words, very complex and much like the era in which he rose to prominence. I found Star to be a compelling read and, in the end, a most respectful attempt to capture the man in full.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A conundrum wrapped in an enigma 19 Jan 2010
By wogan - Published on Amazon.com
Both the book `Star' and the subject itself, Warren Beatty seem to be filled with contradictions. Peter Biskind gives Beatty credit for what he says are his unmatched successes, but then on the same page will write of the flops and terrible difficulties Warren creates for those who surround him, both professionally and in his love affairs. The contradictions are constant, even those who hate him can't help but liking him. As stories of Beatty's life in Hollywood are explained, they are followed with statements such as: "Beatty now insists that none of this ever happened...and in 1971, when asked if it was true, Beatty said, 'Probably. Possibly'."
Of course the book has details of Beatty's many affairs, but then as Biskind also explains in his introduction, he decided not to include Warren's marriage with Annette Bening, so if you are looking for that part of Beatty's life it is not included, nor is his life before the movie 'Splendor in the Grass'. What is integrated are the details of Beatty's professional career and the difficulties that developed on his movie sets.
This is not really a personal biography since those close to him, his sister, his friends and most of his former lovers will not give interviews. Most of the details are professional and concern his ability to bed almost any woman who crosses his path. Even though Beatty gave permission for this book, he has, like many others before him who authorize biographies then disputed some of what is written.
The cover proclaims "How Warren Beatty seduced America". That question is really never answered; but if you are a fan of Warren Beatty or someone who wishes to read about the moviemaking process and Hollywood community you might enjoy the 600+ pages of information contained in this book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great biography, but..... 29 Jan 2010
By Jan Comsky - Published on Amazon.com
Well...here's my opinion on the Warren Beatty book. As a bookworm of biographies and autobiographies (and I read a lot of biographies) this biographical book on Warren Beatty is excellent.
The only reason I personally didn't care for the book (and I only read it halfway) was due to his extreme narcissism. I found his character extremely obnoxious, and didn't care to read further on.
Otherwise, as stated above this book is a good book, but not to my taste.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biskind is perfect for Beatty 13 Jan 2010
By Harry Chotiner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I found Biskind's biography to be exactly what I wanted. It's a thoughtful exploration of Beatty and the Hollywood in which he thrived. It's full of fun gossip and anecdotes. And it's really interesting in discussing his movies.

Biskind has written two of the most important books ever done on the outliers of Hollywood (the mavericks of the 1970's and the independent film people of the 1990's). And so Beatty was a natural subject given Biskind's past interests. And Beatty and Biskind are two of a kind. They swim in the mainstream but there's a part of them that's going to resist the blandishments and compromises of that mainstream. Beatty may not like it that Biskind has revealed too much. But in terms of "getting him," Beatty couldn't have found a better biographer.

What I also loved about the book is that it's the kind of thing that can be read cover to cover, and it also works for just jumping around from favorite movie to favorite movie. It's a treat.

And thanks to Amazon the price is pretty reasonable.
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