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Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll Generation saved Hollywood Hardcover – 29 Oct 1998
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Not only is Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls the best book in recent memory on turn-of-the-'70s film, it is beyond question the best book we'll ever get on the subject. Why? Because once the big names who spilled the beans to Biskind find out that other people spilled an equally piquant quantity of beans, nobody will dare speak to another writer with such candour, humour, and venom again.
Biskind did hundreds of interviews with people who make the president look accessible: Scorsese, Spielberg, Lucas, Coppola, Geffen, Beatty, Kael, Towne, Altman. He also spoke with countless spurned spouses and burned partners, alleged victims of assault by knife, pistol, and bodily fluids. Rather more responsible than some of his sources, Biskind always carefully notes the denials as well as the astounding stories he has compiled. He tells you about Scorsese running naked down Mulholland Drive after his girlfriend, crying, "Don't leave me!"; grave-robbing on the set of Apocalypse Now; Faye Dunaway apparently flinging urine in Roman Polanski's face while filming Chinatown; Michael O'Donoghue's LSD-fuelled swan dive onto a patio; Coppola's mad plan for a 10-hour film of Goethe's Elective Affinities in 3-D; the ocean suicide attempt Hal "Captain Wacky" Ashby gave up when he couldn't find a swimsuit that pleased him; countless dalliances with porn stars; Russian roulette games and psychotherapy sessions in hot tubs.
But he also soberly gives both sides ample chance to testify. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls is also more than a fistful of dazzling anecdotes. Methodically, as thrillingly as a movie attorney, Biskind builds the case that Hollywood was revived by wild ones who then betrayed their own dreams, slit their own throats, and destroyed an art form by producing that mindless, inhuman modern behemoth, the blockbuster.
When Spielberg was making the first true blockbuster, Jaws, he sneaked Lucas in one day when nobody was around, got him to put his head in the shark's mechanical mouth, and closed the shark's mouth on him. The gizmo broke and got stuck, but the two young men somehow extricated Lucas's head and hightailed it like Tom and Huck. As Peter Biskind's scathing, funny, wise book demonstrates, they only thought they had escaped. --Tim Appelo, Amazon.com
Based on hundreds of interviews with the directors, as well as producers, stars, studio executives, spouses and girlfriends, this is the full story of the crazy world the directors ruled. Never before have so many celebrities talked so frankly about one another and the drugs, sex, and money that made so many of them crash and burn.
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I have actually brought this book twice, Years ago and just the other day. I am not someone who generally makes a habit of this,
but when I moved I couldn't remember which box it was in, but Amazon ever my friend, gave me an opportunity to re-read a book, the memory of which makes me smile even today. When I brought it it had the same front cover but it was in a red and orange theme.
I really do recommend this book, though I have read his other book, which didn't do much for me, that one being
Down and Dirty Pictures (Softcover) -
A lot of people have really enjoyed it (according to reviews on this here yon Amazon), but having read and really enjoyed this one it left me pretty cold. Which is a shame because he has written other books such as Gods and Monsters: Thirty Years of Writing on Film and Culture (Softcover) but I suspect the best of the stories are packed into this wonderful book.
If you're into Holywood and like the backstory as much as what goes on the big screen, you could well love this book. Just not for me.
Leaving aside the salacious details, and boy, are there some, this is a quite fascinating look at how the 'New Hollywood' directors set out to overturn the old studio system, to bring back power to the independents, to create their own system; and how they almost all self-destructed or ended up only reinforcing that which they aimed to destroy, largely as a result of their own over-the-top, out-of-control behaviours and attitudes.
The studios are even more powerful now than they ever were; there's precious little space in the cinemas these days for indie, independent or arthouse films - and the movies that make big-bucks are all pre-fab, much of a muchness: explosions and sex and violence and plots that can be summed up in ten words or less. Only George Lucas ended up with the financial clout to create his own movie empire, and even he is enslaved to Star Wars.
there was just far too much boring detail about too many unknown people.
The book may have got better later on, I'll never know. I love a good read by the way, but this really wasn't it.
Now everytime I meet a film maker, I urge them to read this book.
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