Most helpful positive review
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
More than decent biography of a difficult man.
on 9 July 2013
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.