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What Fresh Lunacy is This?: The Authorized Biography of Oliver Reed Hardcover – 13 Jun 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Constable (13 Jun. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 147210112X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1472101129
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 4.1 x 24.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 189,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Lively ... always entertaining. (Sunday Times)

A brilliant and beguiling account of Reed's life and times. (Mail on Sunday)

Invaluable colour, context and quotable stories ... a lament for a version of England and a way of being a movie star that doesn't really exist anymore. (Empire)

Unexpectedly moving, as well as one of the most compelling volumes it has been my pleasure to pick up for some time. (Bookbag)

wildly funny and strangely moving. (Guardian)

Book Description

The authorised biography of Oliver Reed, one of Britain's best loved actors.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By JK TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 July 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I remember Oliver Reed from the early Hammer Horror films, The Curse of the Werewolf, up until his final performance as Proximo in Gladiator. I always found him to have a dark, charismatic screen presence and he left no-one in doubt of that when he played Bill Sikes in the 1968 film musical Oliver. Proximo might have been the role to catapult him back into the world of celebrity showbiz but it's true to say he's now better remembered for a couple of drunken appearances on TV chat shows. Maybe that's why so much of this biography is given over to his antics and bad boy behaviour.

What Fresh Lunacy is This is a standard biography and runs the formula for such however; it's well written, well researched and quite in your face. A decent attempt has been made to establish the 'inner' Reed but perhaps too much time was spent looking for explanations, reasons, for his outlandish behaviour. The simple fact was 'he drank to extreme' and he did it regularly over a period of many years. Explains so much more about the man than a close inspection of his parents marriage and his childhood. I also refuse to buy into the idea of Reed being hugely generous and extremely loving. I'm sure he was to those in his immediate circle but he wouldn't have appeared 'cuddly' to many of those on the outside. Some of his behaviour was inexcusable and not in the least bit funny to those on the receiving end.

I'd have liked some more texture, more balance, to his character rather than all the empathy and understanding. Why didn't he reach out for help and stop drinking? Alcohol dependence is presented more as a quirky character trait than a disease and Oliver Reed emerges horribly arrogant in his pursuit of it.

At times I caught a glimpse of the man behind the bad boy reputation and he looked old, lost and lonely. I prefer to remember him as Bill Sikes swaggering through the London streets with Bullseye nipping at his heel.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Random Woman on 9 July 2013
Format: Hardcover
Oliver Reed was a big man with a big personality, which means any biography about him needs to be big on research and not pull any punches when it comes to recounting the outrageous stories, legendary drinking games, pranks and general hell raising antics. Thankfully the two years of meticulous research and interviews has paid off to deliver a book that shows the professional genius of Reed as an actor and the personal flaws of the man as a son, brother, husband and father.

This is the first time Oliver's brothers, lovers, wives and children have talked to an author and their honesty is refreshing, which gives this authorised biography an intimacy and authenticity pervious books have lacked. Reed's personality is evident from page 1 and love him or hate him you can't ignore his huge presence, which the author has captured perfectly.
I was particularly interested in the stories of his early life and his often turbulent relationship with his father, whose stance in the Second World War as a conscientious objector shaped Reed's macho attitude over the years, and gave him a rebellious and life long love of the military. I was also surprised that, even though he was a notorious drinker, on a film set he was always a consummate professional, often showing a gentler side with impeccable manners to the cast and crew.
This isn't just a book about the hell raising. Each of Reed's films are dealt with, not just as part of the time line of his life, but also to show the highs and lows of his career and it doesn't shy away from his professional as well as his personal decline too, right though to those infamous chat show appearances.
Oliver Reed, in his heyday was raw, sexy and unmissable. By the end he was a sad act to watch.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Gorman on 10 July 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I brought the book as I'm a fan of some of Oliver's films. I was very disappointed by the book, the anecdotes become familiar and over-used 'Olly got drunk, demands people join in, smashed the place up, Reg steps in to stop him getting a kicking, he pays for everything and says sorry, buys everyone loads of drinks and goes home'. Its pretty tragic because until I read the book I thought he was alright but the reality it would seem is that he was spoilt and a bully and without his gang and/or Reg about would have been on the wrong end of a kicking a number of times. Robert Sellers is clearly in awe of Reed, there is alot of detail regarding the conquests, the fights, the 'he's an ordinary bloke' stuff but not much else.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By richard Brown on 5 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback
What a crazy life Oliver Reed led. His unsettled childhood and estrangement from his family sowed the seeds for a life devoted to posturing, drinking and raising hell,.....and yet there was a quiet intellgent thoughtful man, shy and sensistive behind the bullying bluff exterior.
What Ollie could have been... a massive Hollywood star, but at the height of his early 1970's fame and playing the English squire in his Surrey Mansion, 'Broom Hall', he chose to ignore Spielberg's offer of a major role in 'Jaws'..(how mad was that), to stay in England and make increasingly bad films. As the parts got worse so did his behaviour and in the end he was accepted as a clown, a mad eccentric to liven up chat shows and be a public laughing stock. BUT.....'The System' 'The Trap' 'Women in Love' 'The Devils' 'Sitting Target' 'The 3/4 Musketeers' 'Castaway' all prove what a strong and versatile actor Reed was.

And then there was 'Gladiator'....as with Richard Burton (1984) Reed would save one of his best performances for (unbeknown to him), his final movie. What a great performance in a major film, a film performance that was set to re establish him as a major actor once again.....and had a Royal Navy ship not docked in Valleta on a sunday, a day off from filming, and had not the sailors found Ollie in his favourite pub watching the San Marino Grand Prix, and had Ollie not stood them all drinks and challenged them to arm wrestle him, then the end to this very well written and researched book might be quite different.

His last years spent with his young wife in Ireland would appear to be his happiest. As the years pass since his death, his best films can be appreciated and his perfomances admired...Ollie Reed certainly was a 'One off'.
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