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You'll Never Eat Lunch in this Town Again Paperback – 5 Aug 2002
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Julia Phillips became a Hollywood player in the freewheeling 70s; the first woman to win the Best Picture Oscar as a co-producer of "The Sting". She went on to work with two of the hottest young directorial talents of the era: Martin Scorsese ("Taxi Driver") and Steven Spielberg ("Close Encounters of the Third Kind"). Phillips blazed a trail as one of the very few females to break into the upper echelons of a notoriosly chauvinistic industry. But, for all her success, Phillips remained an outsider in the all-male Hollywood club. She had a talent for deal-making, hard-balling and wise-cracking, and a considerable appetite for drink, drugs and sex. But while these predilections were tolerated and even encouraged among "the boys", Phillips found herself gradually ostracized. By the late 80s, she was ready to burn bridges and name names, and the result was this coruscating memoir of her career. Julia Phillips died in Jan 2002 at the age of 57, but her book should stand as one of the classic episodes of La-La-Land in all its excesses and iniquities.
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In terms of sly digs and fun attacks on Hollywood characters `Never' is a fun book. Phillips is scathing and her arrogant attitude means that she takes no prisoners. Unfortunately, these moments are hidden away in what can only be described as a tomb. The book is far too long to be pleasurable and the various characters that drift in and out of the book are too numerous. It does not help that as we move away from the 1970s and 80s less of the people mentioned in the book are known and the book has lost a lot of relevance for this reason.
I don't think criticising a book for being of its time is really fair, so although the book is dated, it is not the reason I did not enjoy it. Phillips writes in a very American therapy style, as if she has been told by a new age shrink to unburden herself. There is too much self referencing claptrap in the book that expands its length by a good 200 pages. Phillips also failed to edit the book in a way so that the narrative flows - it just reads like it is spewed from her mind to the page. With every passing year the shocking impact that this book would have had back on its release in 1991 lessens. With a 20 year gap the book has to be read without any hype and unfortunately I found it wanting.
Your view of our current blockbuster makers and movers and shakers will alter, not your appreciation of their work but in yur view of their personal motivations. What the author, one of, if not the only, most succesful female producers in Hollywood brings to the table is a stark view of the wanton capitalism that accompanied Hollywood's perceived move into more liberal and risktaking cinema.
phillips is a wounded veteran of the era in the seventies that broke Coppola, Lucas, Spielberg, Redford and Scorsese into the Hollywood firmament. She helped put them there, felt betrayed by them and so rounds upon them with an expose of their inner workings and outer foibles, with such "Baby Jane" smartassery and venom that it shocks and entertains in equal measure.
That not one of her subjects sued is testament to the veracity of the claims made in the book, but then her sometimes vain, Narcissistic tone could be seen as something that renders her volley of vituperative impotent.
It must be read by any modern film fan. It stubs a lipstick smeared cigarette out upon the candy floss image Spielberg created and shores up any illusions that Hollywood is any more politically correct than it was in the days of Louis B Mayer.
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