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3.0 out of 5 stars What Fresh Lunacy?, 31 Oct 2013
This review is from: What Fresh Lunacy is This?: The Authorized Biography of Oliver Reed (Hardcover)
Another book on another drunken oaf and it looks like Robert Sellers is trying to corner the market in rehashing all the old stories of all the dead and foolish actors who graced film and pub in yesteryear. Indeed I was surprised to see this book as Mr Sellers had more or less covered similar ground in Hellraisers, though this is a much more detailed account of that most wasted talent, the actor, Oliver Reed.

Certainly, if you didn't know much about Reed this is a good place to begin and Sellers has made a fine job of collecting all the tired old clippings and bar room tales and sticking them together again to make a biography of this most public of court jesters. Always delivered in his too, too blokey style we have here a collection from Reed's finest and infamous moments.

I think much of this book will be enjoyed if you buy into the myth that alcohol makes you witty, charming, a bit of a character and one of the lads; for others the booze filled stories are a bore like the subject himself. But the tragedy in Reed's case was that he had a giant of a talent and could have gone on to become one our most respected actors. Reed's early film appearances under the guidance of Ken Russell were templates of brooding power, and almost any appearance of Reed on and off screen had an immediate danger and the impression of a man on the edge of insanity.

Though born into a privileged family with many connections Reed seem to stumble into acting and his upbringing now days would have social services knocking on his door, but it was his early devil- may- care attitude which probably got Reed into acting in the first place. Though many drunken episodes later we finally catch up with Reed at the end of his too short life, collapsing in a bar and dying while making a come back in the film, Gladiator.

I would have liked more of who Oliver Reed really was from Robert Sellers and less of the boorish tales of the well know drinking sprees and silly TV chat show appearances, which rather than be funny are a sad reminder of the destructive force behind Reed's demise. Like many actors Reed pretended to drink for fun, but used drink to cover up his fear of failure and behind the mask there was a controlling bully, who had no respect for himself and many he came into contact with.

It has always been believed Richard Burton wasted his talents, but there was an intelligent and erudite man who left us some extremely good work but seemed the be consumed by demons, the worst of them drink. Oliver Reed put his talent on a funeral pyre and there appears to never have been much behind the booze soaked braggart. One story Robert Sellers would not have come across is some people I knew got to know Reed quite well from drinking in a pub in Dorking, Surrey, where Reed had a house. When they first met, my acquaintances was sitting at the bar and Oliver Reed blustered up to them and said, 'You don't know who I am, do you?' Well, yes Oliver, I think you summed it all up in that one sentence.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 8 Jan 2014 20:44:18 GMT
Last edited by the author on 8 Jan 2014 20:46:40 GMT
Varlesh says:
A strange 'review' with an undercurrent of bitterness at its core.
Some of its points hitting the target; but it seems to reveal more about you than it does of the book.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2014 17:14:48 GMT
Hector G. says:
Many thanks for your interesting comment.

I must point out that I actually enjoy some of Oliver Reed's work & compared with many celebrities nowadays he certainly added a splash of colour whether on or off screen. What I do find irksome is the elevation of Reed's boorish behaviour amongst others when we see the destruction alcohol causes in our society everyday. I take nothing away from this actor's talent, but man gets drunk again and falls over is never going to get my vote.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2014 17:55:00 GMT
Varlesh says:
After reading the book it was hard not to feel sympathy for the man rather than dislike him.
A childhood of instability seemed to play a major part in how he developed as a person and although a lot of his behaviour was unforgivable
it was nonetheless understandable.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2014 18:04:19 GMT
Hector G. says:
Fair comment - & to be frank there were many people who liked Reed as well.
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