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Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America MP3 CD – Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged
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Beginning just before Splendour in the Grass and continuing past the star's most recent film, Town & Country, the book charts the films, the spats, the womanizing and the politicking all in Biskind's characteristically punchy prose. Beatty has co-operated with the book, after a fashion, but is largely on hand to merely correct other people's versions of events, not to offer any self-analysis. Unfortunatley several key people have declined to speak with the author including long-time friends and collaborators Robert Towne and Jack Nicholson. Plenty of people have spoken though and the book is chock-full of stories, good and bad. Unfortunately, a lot of the stories and quotes from the chapters that cover the Seventies already appeared verbatim in Biskind's peerless Easy Riders, Raging Bulls although there are additional anecdotes and of course the earlier book did not cover all of Beatty's movies from the period and nothing from beyond. Also Biskind's analyses of the films themselves are excellent, particularly Bonnie & Clyde and Shampoo.
Beatty emerges from the book as quite a sad figure, a man with extraordinary talents who made some sublime movies but who has squandered his professional reputation and now doesn't get the respect his career deserves, a controlling man who was willing to put any number of colleagues and friends through the wringer striving for greatness and acclaim but was frequently his own worst enemy. When he was on top, his pictures (and himself personally) minted money and were routinely nominated for rafts of oscars but his star diminished dramatically and he is now virtually unemployable.
Beatty's reason for encouraging Biskind's project was apparently so that his kids could read something that gave a sense of his importance as a film-maker. But Easy Riders, Raging Bulls had already set that out amply (although the earlier book didn't go into much detail about his masterpiece Reds - which is perhaps what gnawed at Beatty) and a lot of the extra material here from that golden period is about the star's womanizing and difficult behaviour.
However, it is a brilliant book and it's always a pleasure to read a writer who writes about films as if they matter. The great thing about the author's approach is that he takes glamourous movie idols and humanizes them. Inevitabley this means bringing these gods of the silver screen down to earth - uncomfortable for them, even 'humiliating' perhaps. But ultimately, behind the 'star' Biskind shows us the man.
Well worth reading, an analysis of a man both admirable and despicable.
P.S. The description of an ability of the young and lovely Jane Fonda is reason enough to read it. Gosh!
The book is big on only part of Beatty's life and given that it's over 600 pages, it's perhaps as well we've been spared much of the earlier years. However, if you need an insight into a man and his image, this book can do no wrong. The author has certainly done his homework and is obviously a big fan before he wrote the first paragraph. I guess if Dick Tracy and Warren Beatty were interchanged, would we notice the difference? Well, yes, I suppose so. One's an American idol and the other's an....Mmmmm, I see what you mean. If you are a fan, you'll enjoy this book. If not, you can dip in and out, taking snapshots of people, films, the industry, the names and still feel there's unlikely to be anyone quite like Warren Beatty ever again. Ladies, don't all sigh at once.
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