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Halfway To Hollywood: Diaries 1980-1988 (Volume Two): The Film Years Hardcover – 17 Sep 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 656 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; First edition edition (17 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297844407
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297844402
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 4.5 x 23.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 266,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Palin reminds me of Samuel Johnson: driven, intellectually formidable, and spurred on by self-reproach and the wholly irrational idea that he's not really getting on with it . . . Palin is a seriously good writer. These diaries are full of fine phrases and sharp little sketches of scenes (DAILY MAIL)

This is a brisk, pithy, amusing read, teeming with the writer's inner life, crammed with high-quality observations . . . and deft ink-pen sketches of his associates (SPECTATOR)

Charming and vastly entertaining (IRISH TIMES)

His entries are riddled with the astute wit and generosity of spirit that characterise both his performances and his previously published writing (TIME OUT, 'Book of the Week')

It's clear why Cleese later nominated Palin as his luxury item on Desert Island Discs . . . he makes such unfailingly good company . . . this is the agreeably written story of how a former Python laid the foundation stone by which he would reinvent himself as a public institution: the People's Palin (GUARDIAN)

A fascinating and wry cultural take on the 1980s . . . it's also, when added to volume one, proving to be the most beguiling and revealing of ongoing autobiographies (SUNDAY HERALD)

This is the Michael Palin with whom the public has fallen in love. A man whose ordinary likeability makes us feel we know him, and that he is incapable of nastiness or an outburst of bad temper (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

Palin reminds me of Samuel Johnson: driven, intellectually formidable, and spurred on by self-reproach and the wholly irrational idea that he's not really getting on with it... Palin is a seriously good writer. These diaries are full of fine phrases and sharp little sketches of scenes (Sam Leith DAILY MAIL)

There are some fabulous and very funny snippets about Alan Bennett and Maggie Smith . . . the behind-the-scenes antics of the Pythons and their wider circle make great reading (OBSERVER)

Halfway to Hollywood is at its best when it moves from Palin's professional life to personal revelation (THE SUNDAY TIMES)

There are some fabulous and very funny snippets about Alan Bennett and Maggie Smith... the behind-the-scenes antics of the Pythons and their wider circle make great reading (THE OBSERVER)

Reading Palin's words is like putting your slippers on, clutching a cup of cocoa and settling down for a late night chat with an old friend... for anyone who enjoys with work of a competent, erudite and amusing diarist. (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS)

This is the Michael Palin with whom the public has fallen in love. A man whose ordinary likeability makes us feel we know him, and that he is incapable of nastiness or an outburst of bad temper. (THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

it's clear why Cleese later nominated Palin as his luxury item on Desert Island Discs because... he makes such unfailingly good company... this is the agreeably written story of how a former Python laid the foundation stone by which he would reinvent himself as a public institution: the People's Palin. (THE GUARDIAN)

Book Description

Michael Palin's diaries of the 1980's including the filming of THE MEANING OF LIFE and A FISH CALLED WANDA.

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Format: Hardcover
Michael Palin is a writer, performer, producer, family man, and much more besides. His Halfway to Hollywood diaries reveal a tantalising insight into his life during the 1980's where he was writing screenplays (Time Bandits, The Missionary, The Meaning of Life, etc.), performing (Time Bandits, The Missionary, Brazil, A Private Function, The Dress, etc.), and producing (The Missionary). His diaries reveals his hopes, frustrations, friendships, business deals, and observations of life during the period. It also opens up the chaotic American and British film industries during the time in which video seen as a major threat to the cinemas.

Palin is a wonderful diarist, and this volume will keep fans of Michael Palin and/or Monty Python engrossed for a good while. And it serves as an excellent playlist to revist his films on DVD, something I look forward to doing ASAP.
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Format: Hardcover
Michael Palin is a man you just can't dislike (although you might think him a bit silly - see lumberjack song, parrot sketch etc). The same is true of his diary: what's not to like (apart from the fact that it's not silly at all)? He's a witty, warm, intelligent guy, and his diary is a very rapidly readable account of what it's like to be him and to move in the circles he does. There's lots about getting film scripts developed and getting films made, an astonishing amount of jet-setting (considering that when I watched his adventures abroad in various documentaries he seemed quite an innocent abroad), plenty about fellow Pythons and quite a bit about his mother and family. I haven't seen most of the films that Palin was working on when he wrote this diary, but that doesn't detract from it: I couldn't put it down and had read the whole fat book within a week.

It's not prurient, heart-breaking or laugh-a-minute. But, like so much of Michael Palin's work, it is sensitive, well-observed, down-to-earth and studded with pithy wit. It's just a pleasure to be in his company. No surprise that he seems the most popular Python within the group, and he gets on with all of them (with the possible exception of Graham Chapman, who may have been too zany for anyone on this planet to really connect with). Palin is self-effacing but not *too* nice - he bristles when he's being taken advantage of and stands up for himself, and it's nice to see him land the occasional punch. He also delivers what all good celeb diarists should - nice character portraits that show the human side of figures we know and love.
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Format: Hardcover
This volume of diaries sees Palin through the last few years of Python, including Hollywood Bowl performances and Meaning Of Life film, into a period where he combines writing projects with more mainstream acting, culminating with his brilliant performance as Ken in A Fish Called Wanda. Interestingly, although Python ceases to exist as a performing group, Palin and the others keep in very close contact and often contribute to or appear in each others projects. The years 1980-1988 see a maturing Palin successfully transition away from idol status to friendly family favourite, and start on his way to becoming the national institution he is today. For all his success during this post-Python period I sense that Palin is trying to find a path to follow and is a bit unsure of himself. Whilst his films are almost all critical successes he does not find himself becoming a heavyweight actor, more confirmed as a good supporting man. Nevetherless, his creativity continues to blossom and his sense of adventure grows, so that by the end of the diaries you can palpably feel his enthusiasm (and even a kind of need) for round the world travel and the chance to forge a separate identity for himself and the chance to set his own agenda. The diaries are better edited than The Python Years (where injudicious cuts sometimes meant that the events became disjointed) and Palin's niceness still shines through, although we also get a better sense of his political views and personal philosophy, as well as learning more about his friends, including his close bond with George Harrison. Nothing sensational here, but very good bedtime reading!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Palin's life was less focused in this second decade of diaries, with python behind him, he forges forward with handmade films and becomes more of a gun for hire, a writer and observer of the social scene. His publicity trips take him from New York to Prague, Russia to Rutland as the idea of travel journalism and round the world documentaries slowly grows. There's great fun to be had with Alan Bennett and Terry's Gilliam and Jones, Cleese and co, and tragedy too, in a doomed attempt to help his depressed sister. The least interesting parts are when he's co opted to Transport 2000 as spokesman and he cannot wait to untangle himself. Always lively, positive and kind, Palin is your ideal companion to show biz life in the Eighties.
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Format: Hardcover
I'd read and thoroughly enjoyed Michael Palin's first volume of diaries, but had only heard a couple of reviews of this, the follow-up, and neither were encouraging. Words such as boring and unenlightening were used, and I was a little worried. I needn't have been. This second volume is every bit as good, if not better than the original.

Palin is such a natural writer, his words trip off the page as though he were casually sitting next to you making pleasant conversation. His warmth, wit, love of his family and insecurities, all come to light in this fine book. He sheds light on a world most of us can only speculate about - the tantalising world of screenplays, movie deals, TV appearances etc., but makes most of it seem about as terrifying as a wander down to the local corner shop for a pint of milk. And this is no bad thing. He definitely name drops, but in such a casual pleasant way that you hardly notice it. For instance when he frequently refers to his friend "George", you have to keep reminding yourself that this is George Harrison from The Beatles! There is comedy and heartbreak along the way. Be prepared.

I think my favourite moment is when he takes his 80-year-old mother to New York on Concorde and she ends up co-presenting Saturday Night Live with him on national American TV.

This book is a wonderfully easy read, you will struggle to put it down as you just want to keep going, turning the page again and again to find out what happened next. And if nothing else this book has taught me two things - 1. I cannot wait for the next volume of diaries to be published, and 2. I would really love to have Michael Palin round for tea. Perhaps he could mention it in his diaries sometime?
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