Top positive review
One person found this helpful
Well written and very entertaining
on 29 September 2015
Really enjoyed this. The casting couch of Hollywood is well known and Henry Willson made sure that this was an equal opportunity phenomenon as it was men who were expected to provide him sexual favours in return for career advancement. The picture of Willson that emerges is quite complex. Some in Hollywood hated him and saw him as evil others considered him very professional at least in regards to his abilities as an agent. Willson loved Hollywood and stars or at least the glamour he does not seem to have been too interested in the artistic aspect of cinema. For him sex appeal was the most important asset for an actor or actress, talent was not that important. Rock Hudson was of course his most famous client and Willson was sometimes blamed for turning Hollywood's leading macho man into a homosexual. Of course this was just the way Hudson was made and Willson and the film studios went to extraordinary lengths to prevent the public finding out about Rock's sexuality. They thought probably correctly that this would destroy his image and cost them millions in revenue.
Willson was a very plain looking man in a world of beautiful people a fact of which he aware. His main asset apart from family connections at the beginning of his career was his self belief. He believed that he could spot a potential star within a couple of minutes of meeting them and then transform them from a nobody into a star or at least someone with a respectable career. They just had to trust him. His downfall appears to be an inability to change with the times. This refers to both his personal life and professional acumen. The male clients he lusted after were increasingly distant from him in age and must have felt little connection with him whatever their sexuality. He also drunk too much something a young person can get away with but not an older man. Most importantly the tastes of the public had changed. His clients had tended to be very good looking but somewhat limited in acting ability or at least emotional range. In the 60's and 70s the public looked for actors that could project a sense of danger, classical good looks without emotion were not in fashion. Talent actually became more important and while looks still mattered someone did not have to be physically perfect to become a star. Instead of looking for a different kind of actor Willson still seemed to be focused on clean cut pretty boys even if the movie going public had long since lost interest in that kind of performer. Overall the books is sympathetically written, the author is very knowledgeable and often very funny.