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on 15 August 2011
I must admit, I was a bit reluctant to buy Robert Sellers' latest book. A superficial glance suggested that after Hellraisers, Bad Boy Drive and The A-Z of Hellraisers we were re-treading old ground. Happily, I was completely wrong. Don't Let the Bastards Grind You Down is a well-researched, thorough book charting the rise of a group of working-class actors in the nineteen-fifties who went on to successful careers, nationally and internationally. Finney, O'Toole, Connery, Caine, Harris, Robert Shaw and Alan Bates receive generous coverage, as does the slightly later Tom Courtenay. Whilst one might question whether these people "changed the world", they certainly brought a new style to British acting, and Sellers has spoken to as many of their contemporaries as he could (some of whom, like Trevor Bannister, have since died, but that's inevitable when you're dealing with people of this age). Where the book triumphs is in the sheer amount of ground it covers. No career move is ignored, and one really leaves the book thinking one has learnt something. For instance, Sian Phillips is a saint, and so is Elizabeth Harris (who has gone on to wed both Rex Harrison and Jonathan Aitken!); Robert Shaw was a nasty piece of work (who'd have thought it); Richard Harris and Peter O'Toole were headed for oblivion before they even started...the list goes on. Of all the actors covered, I think it's Finney who emerges as the real star. The book ends with him hearing that he hasn't won an Oscar for Tom Jones, beaten by Sidney Poitier. He raises a glass to Poitier, turns to his girlfriend, and says "Let's Dance."

I eagerly await the sequel. I may be slightly warped but I always find stories of decline more interesting than stories of success. And there's plenty of decline to come in the lives of these actors. Not all of them come out of the other side.

Robert Seller's best book to date. Well researched, carefully written (only one major typo gaffe - Alec McCowen is mis-spelled, but no genuine mistakes that I could spot). Highly recommended (as if you couldn't guess).
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on 20 November 2012
i suppose that the qualification for appearing in this book is that an actor was male working class a bit of a boozer and appeared in at least one important film in the 50s and 60s.The problem with that is that excludes films and actors that dont fit the criteria.For example one of the first of the "kitchen sink" dramas was "Woman In A Dressing Gown" which starred Yvonne Mitchell.One of the most important films of the era was "Room At The Top".It dealt with pre marital intercourse in a way that had no tbeen previously described on screen.the problem for the author was that the main character,Joe Lampton,was played by an actor who did not fit the criteria,Laurence Harvey.harvey gets justly criticised for his portrayal of Bamforth in "The Long and the short and the tall"However there is no mention of him otherwise.To me this is a serious error.So this book is rather limiting.The book is generally quite lively and interesting.However at times it just tries to fit too much in.
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on 1 March 2015
Given the atrocious behaviour of some of the actors written about (O'Toole, Finney, Harris and Shaw), I suppose the "bastards" refers to them, and the "you" refers to their long-suffering wives, girl-friends and friends.

This is a very readable book which is as much about drinking as it is about acting, and the rise and fall of the British working class film genre. Even the non-alcoholics spend a lot of time drinking.

It is almost a manual on how to be a star as an actor - drink to excess and then drink some more. Never stop drinking.

Basically it is a voyeurs book on the lives of Finney, Harris, O'Toole, Courtney, Shaw, Connery and Caine up until they reach stardom. Given the remarkable success achieved by O'Toole, Finney, Harris and Shaw it would appear that being an alcoholic is a necessary part of their success.

Personally I just don't see how they got away with as much as they did without being confronted about their drinking. Sellers never mentions the word alcoholism.

We are usually led to believe that out of control drinking is a downward path, this book gives the lie to that. But the lives of the drinkers themselves are not at all enticing.

PS Most of my reviews are on
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on 7 June 2015
The subject matter is excellent, how could it not be. The big problem I have is the style of writing. The prose and descriptive passages are poor. It reads like a tabloid report. I struggled through 60 pages, at that point I could not face anymore.

Comments such as referring to actors/directors known to be socialist in their views to be 'trendy lefties', and gay actors as 'batting for another team' are examples of this poor writing, so easily it could have been written objectively.

I bought two other books by the author at the same time, not too sure I will want to try them on the example set by this book.

It may just be my personal taste that I found the writing style to be wanting, but it seems to have lacked a decent editor to offer good alternatives to many of the poor descriptive sentences.
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on 25 October 2015
Those of us who were there at the time will recognise this book as both an entertaining and a perceptive account of one of the most profound shifts in popular modern culture. The late Fifties and the early Sixties saw British cinema change from being a pale shadow of Hollywood, into a tough and gritty depiction of real life and real people, and perhaps astonishingly this was accompanied by enormous commercial success.

Also astonishingly, this change was down to a small number of largely working-class actors, guided by an equally small number of talented directors. Sellers brings this vivid era to life, placing the main players neatly within their time and drawing character sketches that will enthral all ageing film fans.
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on 28 March 2014
Just love hearing about these film stars who are now British icons in their own right. To show how hard they work and their just deserves. Well written. Really enjoyed all Robert Sellers books.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 22 April 2014
This story is not like the name,it's about British actors,
causing havoc,being cheeky drunk,and annoying everyone.
But they think this is ok,sorry to say but some of it was funny.
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on 26 April 2012
i enjoyed this book very much and its wide variety of the famous and infamous if you enjoyed the stars of yesteryear you should love this
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on 19 January 2015
lovely clean book
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on 21 August 2014
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