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4.3 out of 5 stars51
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 14 August 2001
Something about the cover of this book distracted me from the book section that I intended to purchase my next read. There's a little hellraiser in us all, but in Ollie (Well I think we're friends now after reading this book) there was a lot of a hellraiser and for that reason this book appeals. It begins with reports of his death and then goes on to describe his rise and fall. The rollercoaster ride between the covers takes the wind out of the reader with accounts of his drinking binges, the many occasions when he showed some flesh, including the fast becoming famous 'tattooed member!' his good friends and the hangers on, the houses, the wives, the cars the animals, his son, the escapades, the escapades and the escapades. I became quite tired just reading it all and I was sitting in a comfy armchair with a cup of tea and not the three bottles of Vodka that Ollie could drink in one sitting. But what made me carry on? What made me read to the end when at one point I felt that the book was becoming a little repetitive, not unlike his life? Answer: The sheer admiration for his talent. We hear of a man who said to himself 'I'm going to be an actor', and then went out to teach himself by watching other's act. Not for him the fancy classes at RADA, no he did it his way. Every time people, friends and advisors tried to tell him different he did it his way anyway. Frankie would be proud of him. He made some great films and even when the films were not so great he was great in them. He had something, not just the looks, but what seemed to be a God given ability. I loved the telling of his life, I was fascinated at the number of films he did and the relationships he had and as I closed the book, I didn't feel sad for his early death, his difficult childhood or his broken relationships, I felt privileged to have read a little more about a man who took life by the throat, had a wild time, and checked out before old aged could make him miserable.
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on 29 August 2001
A book like this cannot fail to please you because its subject matter is so appealing. The book is very even in its reporting of Olly's antics and shows the bad and malevolent side as well as the humourous side of Olly's life. The only place it falls down is through a lack of detail and a not too large a pool of new quotes (indeed the book is more a collection of excerpts from previous tomes mentioning Olly). A great book to get to know "who Olly was" but lacked details and had chunks of his antics/life seemingly missing - case in point, the intro' tells us of his buying a house in Ireland through the help of a bar associate and later giving it away to a homeless couple - but this is never again mentioned in the book and we do not find any of the details.
Good! but could have been better
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on 3 August 2001
Having just finished Evil Spirits my opinion of Oliver Reed has changed. I had always considered him to be thuggish, rude and a violent drunk. This book gives you a new insight into the life and mind of one of Britain's most talented actors.
His childhood is discussed in great detail. His difficulty during his school years due to dyslexia, his parents frosty relationship, his mother's many lovers and then his rebellious teenage years, ending with him completing his National Service. His passion for film leads him to pursue an acting career. You follow Oliver's struggles as he went from audition to audition. Then he made it. He became a film star.
Fiercely patriotic he refused parts in Jaws and The Sting because it would mean moving over to America. He later confessed that was probably one of his biggest mistakes.
The book also discusses the three main relationships of his life. His first wife Kate, with whom he had a son, his partner of a decade Jackie with whom he had a daughter and most notably his very much publicised relationship with Josephine, over twenty five years his junior, who would become the second Mrs Reed.
The book also tells of his many affairs and of course, his love of alcohol. The latter would usually be more of a threat to the women he loved than the former.
His films are discussed in great detail with first hand accounts of on-set shananigans and difficulties from the cast and crew.
Even if you are not an Oliver Reed fan you shall enjoy reading about his truly remarkable life.
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on 25 May 2009
Cliff Goodwin does a good job of succinctly summarising the life of Oliver Reed.

This biography is not written with a judgemental bias, which would have been an easy approach to take, given Reed's legendary antisocial behaviour. However, Goodwin is a bit too neutral, especially regarding Reed's violent outbursts. He tells the story well, but gives the impression that whatever Reed did was mostly a bit of fun that sometimes got out of hand.

Reed had serious issues adjusting to society, but on P.246 Goodwin says that Reed had "few psychological hang-ups". That doesn't ring true when you reflect that Reed was so often obnoxiously rude and violent that he was banned from many London restaurants. Few who witnessed Reed losing control could have escaped the feeling that his mental state was at least questionable. Most people never dream of exploding violently, never mind throwing chairs through restaurant windows to liven things up a bit. Just a hint of 'psychological hang-ups' ... !

Oddly enough nothing is said of the quantity of alcohol that caused Reed's death, i.e. 3 BOTTLES of rum, 8 bottles of beer and several doubles of Scotch !

Goodwin does capture some tender aspects of Reed's nature, albeit that they were well hidden.

Goodwin has an easy writing style and holds the reader's interest well, except for a minor digression in Reed's ancestry in Chapter 2.

Worth reading.
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on 18 January 2001
an inside look of the man who was both funny and clever. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and felt that it touched the human side to what was oliver reed, charming, insulting and lovable. i have passed it on to friends and there comments were simaliar to mine
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on 27 March 2009
I thoroughly enjoyed this book because of the subject; Oliver Reed. He was a great, big bear of a man who was full of life and you never knew what was he was going to do next, which is the great thing about this book.

He could be funny, he could be scary, he could be sweet, he could be aggressive and destructive. The book is packed full of weird and wonderful stories like the time he shows up at Mark Lester's (he was Oliver to Reed's Bill Sykes) birthday party with a hooker as a gift for the young lad. Reed's reaction to the horror of the guests is to tip a bowl of jelly over his head and walk out. Then there's the surreal scene of him showing his testicles to Robert Mitchum and director Michael Winner to demonstrate the damage he'd done to them the night before sitting on some railings.

I didn't want it to end, but end it did in the most appropriate way in a bar. As Alex Higgins once said of Reed: "God bless him and all who sail in him." Amen.
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on 17 July 2012
Oliver Reed has always been in my top 10 actors of all time, since I saw him in Oliver, and the times he appeared on tv.Watching him in Gladiator, realised he had died too soon.The photos are lovely inside.He had a last found happiness and everything was going so well.He may be gone, but he will never be forgotten.Great book highly recommanded.
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on 2 December 2001
A smashing biography into Ollie's life, commencing with the exceptionally hard times and moving through to his best moments. This man was portrayed in the book as a hero and, at times, very infamous. Whether a fan or not, this book would be a great read. The only downside was the minor section near the beginning in which his family background was stated. This was unnecessary and too laborious for the reader. Overall, a strong four stars.
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on 6 March 2008
Ollie Reed was a complicated man, an actor with an almost indefinable style, and yet his performances I always thought were very memorable. He just sort of brooded about looking quite sultry, even mordant at times, but his quiet charisma made a real impression on the big screen. I looked forward to reading this biography of him in the hope of getting to know him better. I did, but I probably could have found out many of the things through other sources. This is where the book scores well though, as it lists most of his achievements and most of his notorieties in an almost diary like fashion. In this respect it is a very conventional full, but consequently thin resume of the screen actor's life and career.

It is also the book's main fault, as others here have stated. There are so many of the details I would have loved a deeper exploration of, and some events which I thought the author undervalued totally. It does capture the essence of the man quite well though, and provide a little insight too, such as the insistence that Reed was always acting, even when doing his infamous drunk on TV routine. The author states that Ollie saw these as roles just like any other and he really took his job of performing seriously, wherever it was. This was good insight, which I always believed was the case myself, and I actually think these TV infamies were better than many of his film performances. It also says a lot about the sham of TV, what it's really all about and how little integrity it has. But I would have loved more of this insight, more on what really made Ollie tick, and a lot more depth on certain matters. Maybe there are books that already have this. For the casual or half admirer who doesn't know much about the man, this book would be ideal.
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on 21 November 2012
A well constructed biography, unflinching in its presentation of the hell raiser in Oliver Reed, but also making reference to his sensitive side and the reasons for his shyness (chequered education, dyslexia, childhood disruptions, his parents' divorce, etc). The suggestion that he created a public persona of professional chat show drunk and woman-hater confirmed my suspicion that Oliver Reed might have been acting the drunk and the clown most of the time, though it is obviously difficult to know whether he was acting or not because the vast amounts of alcohol he consumed are on the record. If he was acting, the tragic waste of his talent in such attention-seeking public displays makes for sober reading, and the suggestion that he might have been set up for this by back-room boys and hangers-on is disturbing, as is the somewhat glossed over section about his seduction of a fifteen year old girl whose mother let her miss school to accompany him on his debauches.
The book gives a detailed filmography and pointed me in the direction of some of Oliver Reed's earlier films: 'The Trap,' 'One Russian Summer', and 'The Hunting Party' all confirm him as a mesmerising screen actor who could have been great had his drinking and hell- raising not subverted his talent. This biography will find a permanent home on my bookshelves.
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