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Easy Riders, Raging Bulls PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: Easy Riders, Raging Bulls
Author: Peter Biskind
Publisher: Published April 4th 1999 by Simon Schuster (first published September 27th 1998)
ISBN: 9780684857084
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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This down-and-dirty romp through Hollywood in the 1970s introduces the young filmmakers--Coppola, Scorsese, Lucas, Spielberg, Altman, and Beatty--and recreates an era that transformed American culture forever.

30 review for Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joe Valdez

    However much is true, however much really happened that way, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How The Sex 'N' Drugs 'N' Rock 'N' Generation Saved Hollywood by Peter Biskind remains one of my favorite non-fiction reads. For those who hear "film history" and think Titanic, in 1967, the major American film studios were in such disarray and the counterculture seemed to be overturning conventions with such speed that a new generation of filmmakers, by and large under the age of 30, (and universally white m However much is true, however much really happened that way, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How The Sex 'N' Drugs 'N' Rock 'N' Generation Saved Hollywood by Peter Biskind remains one of my favorite non-fiction reads. For those who hear "film history" and think Titanic, in 1967, the major American film studios were in such disarray and the counterculture seemed to be overturning conventions with such speed that a new generation of filmmakers, by and large under the age of 30, (and universally white males), briefly seized the controls. This director-driven era of American film lasted ten years and generated such groundbreaking pictures as: Easy Rider, M*A*S*H, The Last Picture Show, The Godfather, American Graffiti, The Exorcist, Mean Streets, Chinatown, Jaws, Shampoo, Taxi Driver, Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Apocalypse Now and Raging Bull. Biskind, the former executive editor of Premiere magazine goes behind the scenes of each film and others to explore the creative hubris that resulted in these ever being made and the personal hubris that destroyed the careers of many involved, as well as ultimately turning control from the artisans back over to the financiers. Some choice excerpts: -- [Peter] Fonda's call couldn't have come at a better moment for [Dennis] Hopper. He had hit rock bottom. A wild and disheveled sometime actor, talented photographer, and pioneering collector of Pop Art, a former pal and acolyte of James Dean, whom he had met on the set of Rebel Without a Cause, Hopper had been blackballed for crossing swords with director Henry Hathaway. He was in the habit of buttonholing studio types at parties and hectoring them about the industry--it was rotting from within, it was dead--the Ancient Mariner on acid. He kept saying, "Heads are going to roll, the old order is going to fall, all you dinosaurs are going to die." He argued that Hollywood had to be run on socialist principles, that what was needed was an infusion of money channeled to young people like himself. He recalled, "I was desperate. I'd nail a producer in a corner and demand to know, 'Why am I not directing? Why am I not acting?' Who wants to deal with a maniac like that?" They smirked, moved away. -- Now that The Last Picture Show was happening, Bogdanovich finally got around to reading the book. Peter was in a funk. He was a New York boy, what did he know from small town Texas? Polly [Platt] liked the book because it spoke to her experience growing up in the Midwest. "There were all these movies about this, but they were all fake," she says, "Everything that's in that book, the taking off of the bra, hanging it on the car mirror, the hands that were cold and the girl who would only let him touch her tits, just barely getting your hand up this girl's leg, were experiences I'd had as a young woman. There were parts of the woman's body that were completely off limits in America. These were things that it was just impossible to show in Hollywood films, whereas in European films, like Blow-Up, you saw pubic hair." -- Most films used professional extras; the same faces would turn up again and again, looking like cookie cutouts. Francis didn't want to use professionals, because he didn't want The Godfather to look like other movies. He wanted the faces to look authentic, so he spent a lot of time casting the extras. Says [Gray] Frederickson, "That was not the way Hollywood had ever done things before, and it freaked them out. Extras were extras. To the studio, it was just time wasted." The day they shot Clemenza with the cannoli, Jack Ballard, Paramount's head of physical production, told Francis, "If you don't finish on time today, you're not gonna come to work tomorrow." Rumors flew that, indeed, Coppola was going to be fired. -- Usually, when studio executives screen a picture, they exit without comment. After Ashley, Calley, and Wells saw The Exorcist for the first time, they just sat there, dumbfounded. Calley asked, rhetorically, "What in the fuck did we just see?" They loved it, but did not know what they had, and decided to release it in no more than thirty theaters, where it was to play exclusively for six months, a terrible release pattern for a potential blockbuster, as The Godfather had shown. Nor did Warners preview the picture. They were afraid to. Says [William] Friedkin, "If The Exorcist had previewed it would have never come out. 'Cause people would have written on the cards, 'This is terrible, you have a little girl masturbating with a crucifix, you dirty Jew bastard.' Those were the kind of notes we got anyway, afterward. But if we'd gotten them before, they would have died." -- Meanwhile, [Paul] Schrader continued to write furiously. He desperately wanted to direct. "Somewhere in between how Obsession and Yakuza turned out I realized that if you were a critic or a novelist, you lived by your words," he says. "When you're a screenwriter, that didn't happen. You're half an artist. If you wanted to be in control of your own life, you had to be a filmmaker." He rewrote the Taxi Driver script, wanted it to be an American Notes from the Underground, an American Pickpocket. He read the diary of Arthur Bremer, the man who shot George Wallace. One night, in a New York hotel, he picked up a girl in a bar. When he got her to his room, he realized that she was "1. a hooker, 2. underage, and 3. a junkie. At the end of the night, I sent Marty [Scorsese] a note saying, 'Iris is in my room. We're having breakfast at nine. Will you please join us?' A lot of the character of Iris was rewritten from this girl who had the concentration span of about twenty seconds." -- Lucas felt he was ready to screen Star Wars. The special effects weren't finished, and George had cut in black and white dogfights from old World War II films, but you got the general idea. DePalma, Spielberg, Huyck and Katz, Cocks, and Scorsese met at the Burbank airport. It was foggy, and the flight to San Francisco was delayed. When it finally took off, Scorsese wasn't on board. He was as nervous about Star Wars as Lucas was about New York, New York. He hated flying, but Huyck and Katz thought, Well, he's really competitive, he really didn't want to see it, didn't want to know about the film. As Scorsese puts it, "You'd have the anxiety--if it's better than yours, or even if it isn't better than yours, you think it is. And your friends will tell you it is. And you believe it. For years." -- Simply put, the success of Star Wars, coupled with the failure of New York, New York, meant that the kinds of movies Scorsese made were replaced by kinds of movies that Lucas (and Spielberg) made. As [John] Milius put it, "When I was at USC, people were flocking to Blow-Up, not going to the theaters to the jolted by a cheap amusement park ride. But [Lucas and Spielberg] showed there was twice as much money out there, and the studios couldn't resist that. No one had any idea you could get as rich as this, like ancient Rome. You can clearly blame them." And Friedkin, "Star Wars swept all the chips off the table. What happened with Star Wars was when like McDonald's got a foothold, the taste for good food just disappeared. Now we're in a period of devolution. Everything has gone backward toward a big sucking hole." Easy Riders, Raging Bulls has my highest recommendation for students and others discovering the key films of the era and are looking for more information about this gilded age in Hollywood. Biskind really does his work, getting superstars like Warren Beatty and Steven Spielberg on the record as well as those who worked behind the scenes--like film editors Marcia Lucas and Paul Hirsch--who never became famous. There's gossip (the author has contributed to Vanity Fair) and probably a bit of exaggeration or even misrepresentation on a few fronts, but Biskind covers multiple sides of any event pretty well. None better than the test screening of Star Wars in San Francisco. With the effects and sound finally finished, Lucas screened it again at the Northpoint, just like Graffiti. Marcia had taken a week off from New York, New York to help George. "Previews always mean recutting," Lucas said gloomily, anticipating the worst. The suits were there, Ladd and his executives. Marcia had always said, "If the audience doesn't cheer when Han Solo comes in at the last second in the Millennium Falcon to help Luke when he's being chased by Darth Vader, the picture doesn't work." From the opening shot of the majestic Imperial Starship drifting over the heads of the audience across the black vastness of space studded with stars blinking like diamonds, the place was electric. "They made the jump to hyperspace, and you could see bodies flying around the room in excitement," recalls Hirsch. "When they get to that shot where the Millennium Falcon appears at the last minute, not only did they cheer, they stood up in their seats and raised their arms like a home run in the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series. I looked over at Marcia and she gave me a look like, I guess it works, ya know? So we came out, I said to George, 'So whaddya think?' He said, 'I guess we won't recut it after all.'"

  2. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This book is alternately fabulous and frustrating. In the fabulous column, Biskind is to be commended for his incredibly thorough research. How he got an interview with producer Bert Schneider is beyond my comprehension -- the guy is a total recluse, and one of the most fascinating figures in Hollywood history. I love the way he puts across the story-telling abilities of his interviewees...instead of distilling the information in cold, analytical prose, he lets everybody from Bruce Dern to Warre This book is alternately fabulous and frustrating. In the fabulous column, Biskind is to be commended for his incredibly thorough research. How he got an interview with producer Bert Schneider is beyond my comprehension -- the guy is a total recluse, and one of the most fascinating figures in Hollywood history. I love the way he puts across the story-telling abilities of his interviewees...instead of distilling the information in cold, analytical prose, he lets everybody from Bruce Dern to Warren Beatty to Margot Kidder speak for themselves in compelling, salty language. There's plenty of dirt dished in this book, and I was ready for second and third helpings by the time I finished it. On the minus side, Biskind comes across as an embittered would-be filmmaker in this book. He takes people to task for some pretty dumb things. For instance, I find it difficult to buy his argument that Steven Spielberg and George Lucas ruined 70s Hollywood by cranking out enormously popular films. I mean, all they did was make great movies. The fact that mainstream producers insisted that every subsequent movie draw record crowds is what drove the nail in the coffin of 70s cinema. Clearly, Spielberg and Lucas have tremendous talent, as well as a deep respect for filmmaking. It's not their freakin' fault that the money guys stopped funding quirky genre pictures as a result of the success of pictures like Jaws and Star Wars. Also, I had to laugh at the way Biskind clucked his tongue at the excesses of guys like Martin Scorsese, Hal Ashby, and Francis Ford Coppola, only to turn around and mock Steven Spielberg for being a nerd. I mean, if you're going to argue that drugs and alcohol derailed the careers of some fine directors, you can't then chastise the one guy who led a squeaky-clean existence. Besides, such views are reductive, in my opinion. Nobody is sadder than me that 70s film culture no longer exists. But if you're going to lay the blame for its demise with anyone, put it the door of the people who fail to finance great pictures, instead of the ones who have the courage to make them.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jason Coleman

    The upshot of this book's negative reviews seems to be that it is too full of gossip. I'm trying to imagine someone who buys a book about the film industry and is surprised, much less disappointed, by encountering gossip. According to Biskind, the great party house in the early '70s was the little A-frame Margot Kidder and Jennifer Salt rented for $400 a month on Nicholas Beach near Malibu. Nowadays Kidder says that Biskind exaggerated its debauchery, that it was really a pretty mellow scene. I f The upshot of this book's negative reviews seems to be that it is too full of gossip. I'm trying to imagine someone who buys a book about the film industry and is surprised, much less disappointed, by encountering gossip. According to Biskind, the great party house in the early '70s was the little A-frame Margot Kidder and Jennifer Salt rented for $400 a month on Nicholas Beach near Malibu. Nowadays Kidder says that Biskind exaggerated its debauchery, that it was really a pretty mellow scene. I find this revelation terribly disappointing—I need my illusions. I am even more distressed to learn that Salt went on to write the screenplay for Eat, Pray, Love.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Suvi

    "Directors don’t have much power anymore, the executives make unheard of amounts of money, and budgets are more out of control than they ever were. And there hasn’t been a classic in ten years." - Francis Ford Coppola After Bonnie and Clyde opened, Stefan Kanfer defined the New Hollywood in the most perfect way: "disregard for time-honored pieties of plot, chronology, and motivation; a promiscuous jumbling together of comedy and tragedy; ditto heroes and villains; sexual boldness; and a new, iron "Directors don’t have much power anymore, the executives make unheard of amounts of money, and budgets are more out of control than they ever were. And there hasn’t been a classic in ten years." - Francis Ford Coppola After Bonnie and Clyde opened, Stefan Kanfer defined the New Hollywood in the most perfect way: "disregard for time-honored pieties of plot, chronology, and motivation; a promiscuous jumbling together of comedy and tragedy; ditto heroes and villains; sexual boldness; and a new, ironic distance that withholds obvious moral judgments." The history of cinema is chock-full of interesting people, tidbits, and large entities that every cinema lover should be aware of to understand why films are what they are. Biskind recounts with vividness (albeit with an unpolished touch) the story of rebellious New Hollywood. It was like a shooting star that shined brightly for a while but which ended up in a crater somewhere in the desert. It was a concept that bit itself in the leg despite the best of intentions, and "the last time Hollywood produced a body of risky, high-quality work—as opposed to the errant masterpiece—work that was character-, rather than plot-driven, that defied traditional narrative conventions, that challenged the tyranny of technical correctness, that broke the taboos of language and behavior, that dared to end unhappily." In this case, it's vital to understand the context of 70s and late 60s movies to fully grasp their ideas and potential. New Hollywood boiled down to the ambitious goal to override the studio system and give talented people the chance to explore their ideas in a new artistic, auteurish, way, making the 70s the era of directors. It's when Biskind tries to venture to the business side does the text shrivel into mere detailed listings of budgets and how much of the cut each one involved got. He, does, however, manage to convey the feeling that the era was the time for young people to take away the power from the giants of the John Ford era and to take advantage of the executives' confusion about the changes of the social climate, and go completely berserk with their ideas (and personal lives). Despite having a pretty varied taste in movies, it was fantastic to find out that the NH directors were inspired by (and in some cases even aspired to be) the great auteurs of the European cinema. Arthouse requires a specific kind of attention and the utmost focus of the viewer, but Scorsese et.al. injected their films with their own sense style. Perhaps not always as recognisable as Europeans' (especially Antonioni and Bergman), but slightly more approachable for the big audience (although I still can't believe Raging Bull (1980) bombed). Not only that, but the small changes in the movie making process Biskind discusses all make sense when watching the movies (Taxi Driver (1976) etc.). Script writers ceased to be disposable and it was important for them to dive headfirst into their work, instead of considering it as a some sort of cheap job on the way to literature. Cast on the other hand was no longer comprised of polished cookie cutter people, but (apart from a few exceptions of course) average looking theatre people that lended realism to the movies. Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate (1967) is a prime example. No one was especially looking for stars. Biskind suggests that NH was partly about anger at authority and celebration of counterculture (like in Easy Rider (1969)). This tapped into a new audience, but unfortunately it didn't last long. Biskind's tone feels slightly derogatory, especially towards Lucas and Spielberg. He also seems to draw his own conclusions and interprets some movies in a way that it's represented as fact instead of as his own opinion. I'm not a fan of non-fiction authors who make their stances known, especially if the manner is bitter and unfairly inculpatory. That being said, I understand what Biskind perhaps wants to say. The enthusiasm for making art gradually yielded when the studios started to recover. Spielberg and Lucas can't be the only ones to blame, but they did contribute involuntarily to the blockbuster era. Biskind makes a convincing claim that Spielberg's leanings towards conservatism and commercialism, occasional twelve-year-old-like behaviour, affinity with not crediting whoever helped him in his current movie (Rob Cohen thinks Verna Fields was responsible for the idea of showing only little of the shark in Jaws (1975) etc.), and favoring regressed adults and nostalgia for authority lead to tasteless and odourless cinema. It may not be Spielberg's fault that after Jaws the studios were hungry for equally lucrative profits, but he chose to be part of the establishment. "Us" turning into an all-inclusive everyman instead of the counterculture kids is not necessarily only a bad thing, but it gave way to diluted family fares. Biskind says that Lucas had wanted a wholesome (Jesus Christ I hate that word) tone for Star Wars (1977), claimed it was a Disney movie, favoured happy endings along with straightforward storytelling and accessible two-dimensional characters. I agree with Biskind regarding Lucas and Spielberg bringing back small-town and suburban values. Lucas even said that "Words are great in the theater, but that’s not movies". Chilling. Can you imagine what Apocalypse Now (1979) would have looked like if it had been directed by Lucas like it was initially intended? Pauline Kael said it well: "Discriminating moviegoers want the placidity of nice art — of movies tamed so that they are no more arousing than what used to be called polite theater. So we’ve been getting a new cultural puritanism — people go to the innocuous hoping for the charming, or they settle for imported sobriety, and the press is full of snide references to Coppola’s huge film in progress... [They were] infantilizing the audience, reconstituting the spectator as child, then overwhelming him and her with sound and spectacle, obliterating irony, aesthetic self-consciousness, and critical reflection." Friedkin compares the change with McDonald's getting hold of the nation. Lucas claims that he and Spielberg "understood what people liked to go see", but that just smells calculating as hell, not to mention that his claim that he destroyed the Hollywood film industry by making films more intelligent is just complete and utter bullshit. He even "believed that the most important parts of a film are the first five minutes and the last twenty. Everything in between is filler, and if there is enough action, no one will notice that the characters aren’t particularly complex, or that the acting is wooden". The NH era was in a lot of ways wild, in good and in bad. The BBS offices smelled of pot, most were in a democratic mood and ready to help in friends' movies, everyone wanted to go to Peru to work with The Last Movie (1971) so that they could smuggle drugs back to L. A., Hopper's drug problem caused the directors to make notes in the script what kind he could take in each scene, there were some directors with huge egos and some (like Coppola) were simply megalomaniac crazies, women (who often contributed in some way to their men's films) had to cope with their men acting like assholes and thinking the open relationships of the 70s gave permission for cheating (Bert Schneider to Candice Bergen: "I’m sorry it’s so threatening to you, Bergen, but you have to understand that I’m a love object for every woman who walks into my office.... Start dealing with that. It’s time you began growing up."), on the set of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) the actors were provided with pot as a kind of takeaway so that they wouldn't have to go to the street etc. We can all agree, though, that most films that resulted from this mayhem are good, and distinguishable as 70s and late 60s films. Biskind says that after their recovery, studio executives are now mostly businessmen who are interested about commercialism and money. Were now in a situation where it's difficult to brief an idea that doesn't promise huge profits. Indie movies do find their audience, but compared to the blockbusters, their market is much smaller. Star salaries are higher than ever. New faces are easier to be pushed around, and when one of the greats got an opportunity to make a comeback, they resorted to a mainstream film and failed. Altman is not optimistic: "You get tired painting your pictures and going down to the street corner and selling them for a dollar. You get the occasional Fargo, but you’ve still got to make them for nothing, and you get nothing back. It’s disastrous for the film industry, disastrous for film art". Who knows what will happen in the future. It's clear that we need all kinds of movies, and everyone has their own taste. I still wish there were more brave filmmakers who would get the opportunity to showcase their talents, no matter how wacky their ideas might be, and maintain their distinctive style through the years. I also wish that the movie business would slow down their hunger for money and would actually stop and smell the flowers, and see the talent out there. Fortunately, these days we have our moments as well. With the explosive Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Miller succeeded in lighting the screen on fire. It was magical and different. Ripped my guts out with its energy and beauty, and that's what I'm personally looking for in a movie. Godard showed that anything is possible, and even Lucas said that "Emotionally involving the audience is easy. Anybody can do it blindfolded, get a little kitten and have some guy wring its neck".

  5. 5 out of 5

    A.J. Howard

    My thoughts on Easy Riders, Raging Bulls can be summarized by two comparisons: 1. Game Change: Both books let gossip get in the way of solid storytelling. Game Change would give paragraphs of great accounts of political strategy (which is right in my wheelhouse) then get sidetracked with anecdotes of how Elizabeth Edwards is a bitch, John Edwards is a dandy, and what Hilary Clinton wore at a particular campaign event. Not all of it was completely useless, and some of it was quite fun, but it chea My thoughts on Easy Riders, Raging Bulls can be summarized by two comparisons: 1. Game Change: Both books let gossip get in the way of solid storytelling. Game Change would give paragraphs of great accounts of political strategy (which is right in my wheelhouse) then get sidetracked with anecdotes of how Elizabeth Edwards is a bitch, John Edwards is a dandy, and what Hilary Clinton wore at a particular campaign event. Not all of it was completely useless, and some of it was quite fun, but it cheapened the value of the work in my mind. Biskind's use of gossip is a bit more justifiable. One of the main themes of the book is the hubristic rise and fall of a generation of filmakers that rose to prominence in the '70s. Tales of personal degradation fit into this. And after all, it is Hollywood. And if you want to read a tabloid-like account of Tinsel Town in the '70s, I can recommend this. But I was expecting, and Biskind tries to deliver, something different. Which brings us to the second comparison.... 2. Pictures at a Revolution: This comparison is unfair, Pictures is one of the best nonfiction books I've ever read, but the comparison begs to be made. The two books cover many of the same themes and feature many of the same figures and films. And Pictures at a Revolution is better in every single way. Pictures isn't just about how movies changed, its about how very root understandings of American culture changed and the effect the two revolutions had on each other. It's a great story and a hella good read. Mark Harris gives well-known celebrities like Warren Beatty, Sidney Poitier, Mike Nichols and Rex Harrison into complex, and (sometimes) sympathetic characters. In contrast, Biskind's portraits resemble stereotypical caricatures. Beatty likes to fuck alot. Gee, that Altman guy sure is surely. Wow, Francis Ford Coppola is a prima donna. Who would've thought George Lucas was so antisocial? Like Game Change this information can be intriguing and often fun.But it gets in the way of the movies. Biskind doesn't do a great job of providing film analysis. I think good writing about film should be like a great commentary track on DVDs. Yeah, I like amusing anecdotes, but I want to hear about the film. Harris writes about the movies, Biskind writes about people who makes the movies and the fucked up shit they do. But this is supposed to be a review of Easy Rider, Raging Bull, so back on topic. Two things in it's defense in light of the comparison: (1) Biskind doesn't share identical goals with Mark Harris; and (2) and Easy Rider, Ring Bull's scope is (kinda) broader than Pictures.' Biskind succeeds at certain levels. He tells an entertaining story about a group of young, extremely creative people whoe were given the power to create and how they eventually self-imploded. But he doesn't saying much of any significance about the films of the '70s, which is why I picked up the book in the first place.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mylissa

    The book had the potential to be awesome and interesting and really informative. A lot of amazing movies were made in the 1970's. A lot of interesting things happened in Hollywood as to how movies were made, and the balances of power. Picking up this book, that is what it alludes to be about. It will talk about the New Hollywood directors - Scorsese, Lucas, Spielberg, Coppola, etc etc, and what they did to movies, how they challenged the studio system, how they made some of their most famous mov The book had the potential to be awesome and interesting and really informative. A lot of amazing movies were made in the 1970's. A lot of interesting things happened in Hollywood as to how movies were made, and the balances of power. Picking up this book, that is what it alludes to be about. It will talk about the New Hollywood directors - Scorsese, Lucas, Spielberg, Coppola, etc etc, and what they did to movies, how they challenged the studio system, how they made some of their most famous movies. When it's put like that, it sounds like a must read. A backstage look at Hollywood and it's going's on at the time that Easy Rider, The Godfather, Jaws and Star Wars were being made. That's what the book sets itself up to be, but that is not what it is about at all. If you want to know how these movies got made, you probably need another book. It starts off with grand ambitions but quickly devolves into badly structured and poorly written tabloid fodder about who was doing the most coke (spoiler: everyone but Spielberg) or who was fucking people who weren't their significant others (spoiler: everyone). Now I'm all for a little gossip flavor, but that's literally all this book is. The matters of actual substance in terms of how these movies got made and how they affected the industry play second fiddle to the "drama" the author makes a big deal of revealing. He is so interested in the naughty activities of 1970's Hollywood that he seems to have forgotten what he set out to do and focuses all his attention on tattle-telling. On top of the drivel he is producing in terms of material, the structure of the book is ridiculously atrocious. As in, the only way it could be worse is if sentences started in the middle of each other. It seems as if it might be intended as chronological order, but each chapter zips all around in time. A typical chapter starts off talking about one subject, jumps to talking about something else - which may or may not be happening at the same time, jumps back to the first subject, then to a third subject which may or may not be related to anything already mentioned in this chapter, jumps back to subject one, then subject three, then subject two, then three, then one, then an entirely new subject which goes on until the end of the chapter. Trying to follow the author's train of thought is like trying to follow a dog's train of thought in a park full of squirrels. Between the abrupt subject changes, and the tabloid take on the era, it's hard to pick up the actual information about the movies. Since I'm sure there have to be better written books about the same subject matter, I wouldn't recommend this to anyone. Unless you happen to have masochistic tendencies.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    Peter Biskind is a yenta! The book is hefty with gossip of all kinds, which is too bad because he's talking about the revolution in films in the 60's to early 80's. When he does talk about how the movies changed, both in cinematography, plot development, in every way, Biskind is insightful and intelligent, but he doesn't dwell on such matters for very long. Worse, you're reading along about one topic and suddenly there is a paragraph about another time or other people which you may vaguely recall Peter Biskind is a yenta! The book is hefty with gossip of all kinds, which is too bad because he's talking about the revolution in films in the 60's to early 80's. When he does talk about how the movies changed, both in cinematography, plot development, in every way, Biskind is insightful and intelligent, but he doesn't dwell on such matters for very long. Worse, you're reading along about one topic and suddenly there is a paragraph about another time or other people which you may vaguely recall his talking about elsewhere. It seems as if he cuts and pastes (as we all do), but when he cuts, he doesn't get all the paragraphs and leaves one behind. Add to that his breezy habit of talking about Bob or whomever,but unfortunately, there are several Bobs and after the first 50 pages, when he mentions "Bob" you don't always know which one he meant. Also, in the early pages, he says that Bob or someone married (or lived with) Toby or Polly or whomever. He doesn't mention her name for 100 pages, and suddenly we are hearing about Toby or Polly or whomever doing something and we don't know who she is or whom she is with. Has this guy ever heard about appositive clauses in subsequent mentions, you know, "Bob, the one who funded X in 1969..." or "Polly, who was still married to...." I hate reading books that are like one big puzzle and you keep having to flip backwards to figure what in Hell is going on. It's especially annoying when it's a subject I'm especially interested in.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    I always wonder how this book ever got published, because I don't think there's anything good in it about any of the directors and actors highlighted therein. Not Coppola, not Bogdanovich, not Ashby or Lucas or Spielberg or Scorse. To a man, they are portrayed as selfish, ruthless, megalomaniacal, self-destructive. I almost wonder just how accurate this book - surely they can't all be this nuts? Leaving aside the salacious details, and boy, are there some, this is a quite fascinating look at how I always wonder how this book ever got published, because I don't think there's anything good in it about any of the directors and actors highlighted therein. Not Coppola, not Bogdanovich, not Ashby or Lucas or Spielberg or Scorse. To a man, they are portrayed as selfish, ruthless, megalomaniacal, self-destructive. I almost wonder just how accurate this book - surely they can't all be this nuts? 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.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Unfortunately this is less of the untold story of the birth of the Auteur directors of 70's (you know the ones...Coppola, Scorsese, DE Palma, ect.) and more a gossipy, vindictive, and mean spirited expose of how terrible all those people where at all times...the whole book seems petty and dishonest. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I believe that these people are saints that should be above all criticism, it's that the writing and the editing of this book is so focused on telling you how drug a Unfortunately this is less of the untold story of the birth of the Auteur directors of 70's (you know the ones...Coppola, Scorsese, DE Palma, ect.) and more a gossipy, vindictive, and mean spirited expose of how terrible all those people where at all times...the whole book seems petty and dishonest. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I believe that these people are saints that should be above all criticism, it's that the writing and the editing of this book is so focused on telling you how drug addicted and crazy and two faced everyone was that it barely has time to make the case for any of the classic movies they produced, let alone say at least one nice thing about them. It's funny that the documentary that was produced based on this book managed to do such a better job in at least trying to find a balance between the very real dirt and the passion that drove them all to create art. Watch the doc, skip the book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Briggs

    Fantastic portrait of the best dozen years of American film and the insane circumstances that created them. Essential reading for any aspiring film dork. One part cultural anthropology, one part film criticism, one part gossip rag. Sample Dennis Hopper shenanigans (in the early 80s): "Still convinced the mob was on his tail, he pulled a 'geographic,' ending up in L.A. shooting coke and heroin, and then on to Mexico, where he had an acting gig. Suffering from DTs and hallucinations, he stripped of Fantastic portrait of the best dozen years of American film and the insane circumstances that created them. Essential reading for any aspiring film dork. One part cultural anthropology, one part film criticism, one part gossip rag. Sample Dennis Hopper shenanigans (in the early 80s): "Still convinced the mob was on his tail, he pulled a 'geographic,' ending up in L.A. shooting coke and heroin, and then on to Mexico, where he had an acting gig. Suffering from DTs and hallucinations, he stripped off his clothes and disappeared into the jungle. After he punched a Mexican detective, the film company put him on a flight back to the States. As he was boarding, however, he became convinced that two of his former directors, Coppola and Wim Wenders, were filming him from the plane. Somehow he crawled out onto the wing while the plane was still on the ground..."

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Biskind's book disappointed me tremendously. The author dwelled on bad behavior instead of providing key insights into film making. It lacked social and historical context (just passing mentions of Vietnam and the Manson killings, etc.), despite the fact that the author must have done a tremendous amount of research. Granted, a good portion of the players here are not admirable on a personal level, and some may even be irredeemable … but the book never demonstrated, for me, a respect for the art Biskind's book disappointed me tremendously. The author dwelled on bad behavior instead of providing key insights into film making. It lacked social and historical context (just passing mentions of Vietnam and the Manson killings, etc.), despite the fact that the author must have done a tremendous amount of research. Granted, a good portion of the players here are not admirable on a personal level, and some may even be irredeemable … but the book never demonstrated, for me, a respect for the artistic process that resulted in ground breaking cinema.

  12. 5 out of 5

    John Maxim

    There are some really amazing stories of some of the best films made in the seventies and the people that made them. Of course I expected sex and drugs to be a big part of the book, its on the cover. And if everything in this book is to be believed then filmmakers are some of the worst people there are and they are all lucky to have lived past the age of 40. They are extremely lucky AIDS wasn't much of a thing until the 80's. But I honestly got a little bored with the sex/drugs/gossip TMZ-of-the There are some really amazing stories of some of the best films made in the seventies and the people that made them. Of course I expected sex and drugs to be a big part of the book, its on the cover. And if everything in this book is to be believed then filmmakers are some of the worst people there are and they are all lucky to have lived past the age of 40. They are extremely lucky AIDS wasn't much of a thing until the 80's. But I honestly got a little bored with the sex/drugs/gossip TMZ-of-the-70's like aspects of this book. I think thats the reason I thought it was altogether too long. I found it interesting that the two guys featured here who were the squeaky clean family oriented ones (Lucas and Spielberg) who the author berated for ruining Hollywood, ended up making the more commercially successful films. When you get passed all the stories of tipping waitresses with lines of cocaine, there are a lot of really great inside stories of great films. Every movie discussed (Bonnie & Clyde, The Godfather, The Exorcist, Jaws, Star Wars, Shampoo to name a few) is fascinating and fun to read about how those came to be, changed, were financed, kept people up at night, and were received by those who made them. That was worth it, I just wished the author would've cut the fat a little.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jake Angermeier

    I stole this from a buddies bookshelf for a read on a plane ride back home. I think it might be a college textbook, but I'm not all that sure. Ir-regardless, it is an excellent account of the film industry revolution during the 60's and 70's. It focuses more on the directors and not the actors, which is good because most of the decent directors of that time were completely out of their minds. I find that I use this book ( yeah, I kept it) as a source of reference up to several times a week and h I stole this from a buddies bookshelf for a read on a plane ride back home. I think it might be a college textbook, but I'm not all that sure. Ir-regardless, it is an excellent account of the film industry revolution during the 60's and 70's. It focuses more on the directors and not the actors, which is good because most of the decent directors of that time were completely out of their minds. I find that I use this book ( yeah, I kept it) as a source of reference up to several times a week and have stoked some pretty serious arguments with film-heads due to my new found knowledge of the industry. If you want to know what a pain in the ass it was for Coppola to make " Apocalypse Now", or find trivial and pointless facts ( "Harold and Maude" was written by a pool cleaner) cool, or just like to know the back story of some of the best films ever, dig up a copy of this ( Or steal it from Adam Bailey).

  14. 5 out of 5

    James Perkins

    Most movie books are about the actors we see on-screen; this one paints a detailed picture of the up-and-coming directors from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s. Some of those who survived and are still around to reminisce on those heady, druggy days include Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now), Steven Spielberg (Jaws), George Lucas (Star Wars), Martin Scorsese (Raging Bull), William Friedkin (The Exorcist), Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show), and Warren Beatty (Bonnie and Clyde). This tom Most movie books are about the actors we see on-screen; this one paints a detailed picture of the up-and-coming directors from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s. Some of those who survived and are still around to reminisce on those heady, druggy days include Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now), Steven Spielberg (Jaws), George Lucas (Star Wars), Martin Scorsese (Raging Bull), William Friedkin (The Exorcist), Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show), and Warren Beatty (Bonnie and Clyde). This tome is a no-holds-barred, tell-all expose on the failures, successes, and excesses of those involved, as the "New Hollywood" directors negotiated studio politics, created amazing cinema, made millions - and sometimes lost it again. It's hilarious, outrageous, and sometimes tragic - but guaranteed never boring. Highly recommended to all movie fans.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Hunter Duesing

    While it's a damn entertaining read, Biskind gets some of his facts wrong, making most of this book suspect as a work chronicling the history of the generation of movie brats that revolutionized Hollywood in the late sixties through the early eighties. Biskind also gets lost reporting lurid details of decadence among the Hollywood hippies during this time, which have a sleazy appeal but ultimately adds up to dated gossip. However, I do appreciate how Biskind refuses to coddle and praise this gen While it's a damn entertaining read, Biskind gets some of his facts wrong, making most of this book suspect as a work chronicling the history of the generation of movie brats that revolutionized Hollywood in the late sixties through the early eighties. Biskind also gets lost reporting lurid details of decadence among the Hollywood hippies during this time, which have a sleazy appeal but ultimately adds up to dated gossip. However, I do appreciate how Biskind refuses to coddle and praise this generation the way most authors and documentarians do. Rather than just blaming Michael Cimino the way everyone seems to do, he points out the shortcomings of these filmmakers, and how most of them inadvertantly brought on the doom of this creative period themselves, which is something to be commended.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    This book was poorly written, to say the least. It pretty much read like a teen scream gossip rag. Biskind doesn't even feel obligated to use complete sentences. I felt guilty reading it, like I was investing too much time in something not worthy of it. That being said, I was pretty into the book otherwise. I learned a lot of really fascinating gossip about some of my favorite American directors and the Dennis Hopper stories were off the hook. Overall, I'm glad I read all 430 pages of this.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Biskind is really interested in drugs. He's really interested in sexual exploits. He's really interested in dollar amounts. But he doesn't seem particularly interested in movies--which is the sole reason we care about any of these people and events in the first place. Overwritten on the sentence level, underwritten on the content level, and ultimately very, very tiresome.

  18. 5 out of 5

    H.J. Moat

    To my shame, I am a great lover of celebrity gossip. This book allowed me to indulge in that passion whilst still retaining literary respectability on the bus. Basically it's several hundred pages of celebrity gossip from the late Sixties to the mid Eighties in the context of how it shaped the New Hollywood movement in the film industry. The New Hollywood movement being when directors and writers like Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader started making 'difficult' films, films To my shame, I am a great lover of celebrity gossip. This book allowed me to indulge in that passion whilst still retaining literary respectability on the bus. Basically it's several hundred pages of celebrity gossip from the late Sixties to the mid Eighties in the context of how it shaped the New Hollywood movement in the film industry. The New Hollywood movement being when directors and writers like Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader started making 'difficult' films, films with drugs and violence and unhappy endings, films that critics and film students now love to gush over. The book tells the story of how Taxi Driver, Bonnie and Clyde, Easy Rider, The Godfather and their ilk were made, and how they changed both Hollywood and the world outside of it. To be honest, I don't really like any of the films covered in Easy Riders except for Star Wars (and Lucas and Spielberg are covered here as the exceptions rather than the rule), I'm more of a Hollywood's Golden Era kind of gal. But I do find the film industry and the people in it fascinating so it didn't really impede my enjoyment. Actually, since most the people involved with New Hollywood sound awful maybe its better their films don't hold a special place in my heart. The book seems to be largely pulled together from extensive interviews Biskind has done with actors, producers, writers and directors so it does come across as very authoritative and it's pretty hilarious that many of them having conflicting accounts of what went on (there are quite a lot of instances of 'X says this never happened' after a quote from Y). One thing that niggled was that although there are copious references to drug taking and bad behaviour, there's probably a lot of sexual assault stuff that got left out (James Toback's name pops up now and then and we all know what people are saying about him now) so it's not entirely warts and all. Still, I do think it's an absolute must-read for anyone mad on films.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rui Alves de Sousa

    Ao fim de cinquenta sôfregas páginas de uma mixórdia de factos misturados com fofoquices dignas de documentário do Biography Channel sobre famosos (onde vão buscar o filho da prima do enteado de fulano tal para falar mal dele), e apesar do tema central do livro (a Nova Hollywood) me interessar muitíssimo, tive de pôr de lado este livro por agora. Quem sabe se um dia, com mais força de vontade e mais paciência para aturar o paleio (por vezes digno de uma alcoviteira) do autor, voltarei a atacar e Ao fim de cinquenta sôfregas páginas de uma mixórdia de factos misturados com fofoquices dignas de documentário do Biography Channel sobre famosos (onde vão buscar o filho da prima do enteado de fulano tal para falar mal dele), e apesar do tema central do livro (a Nova Hollywood) me interessar muitíssimo, tive de pôr de lado este livro por agora. Quem sabe se um dia, com mais força de vontade e mais paciência para aturar o paleio (por vezes digno de uma alcoviteira) do autor, voltarei a atacar este livro de fio a pavio. Senão, farei o que costumo fazer com muitas biografias e livros de não-ficcção: ir directamente para as partes que me interessam, saltitando de um lado para o outro da obra.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Luis Paez

    If you're a filmmaker, I highly recommend this book, Interesting and entertaining look at directors and producers from the 70's like Francis Ford Coppola, Denis Hopper, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Warren Beatty and many more. Goes through the transition of directors before and what they've become. Taking you through classic pictures and how they were made.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    I suppose this book might be compared to Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle for its revelations and its exposé of darker aspects and distasteful facts of Hollywood, as Sinclair did with the meatpacking industry. So if you don’t want to see how the cinematic sausage is made, avoid it. But only the naive will be scandalized by the “news” that the players in Hollywood (a state of mind, not a state...or town...or even on the map in any legit form) partake of drugs and treat sex like a commodity to be traded I suppose this book might be compared to Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle for its revelations and its exposé of darker aspects and distasteful facts of Hollywood, as Sinclair did with the meatpacking industry. So if you don’t want to see how the cinematic sausage is made, avoid it. But only the naive will be scandalized by the “news” that the players in Hollywood (a state of mind, not a state...or town...or even on the map in any legit form) partake of drugs and treat sex like a commodity to be traded, or that backstabbing is their favorite hobby and money is their god. The value in ER,RB is finding out how some of America’s best directors fought their way to success, “against all odds” as, over time, thousands of advertising blurbs have screamed. Especially the story of tic-ridden, neurotic and superstitious Marty Scorsese, low-born and disadvantaged, should give hope to any schlemiel who has a dream and some ambition. The take-off point of this story of young Hollywood (i.e., independents and rebels) assaulting the bastions built and maintained -- to the point of collapse -- by the old guard of Warner, et al in the front office and Hawks, Ford, Cukor, et al directing their pictures is obvious from the title. The beginning of the revolution is Easy Rider, that barely coherent film by hippies Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, two rather unsavory products of the ‘60s. That film also provided Jack Nicholson’s breakthrough performance and his first major exposure after a series of Roger Corman exploitation quickies. Once the stage is set for “The New Hollywood” by the success of Easy Rider, eventually the trinity of George Lucas, Coppola, and Spielberg are installed in the filmic firmament, with Star Wars, The Godfather, and Jaws, respectively. Intermingled with stories of these game-changing blockbusters and the upsides and downsides of the directors' successes are the details of the difficulties facing Hollywood as a whole, including the poor treatment of women, the danger of inflated egos, drug use, and the hit or miss aspects of gauging audience's taste as they hunt for the next blockbuster. Meanwhile a conflicted Martin Scorsese (Raging Bull), who can't decide if he wants to be an auteur or popular director as he snorts a fortune of coke, and the oblivious Peter (“I can do no wrong!”) Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show) find their own personal hells it would take them years to exit. In the end, like Bogdanovich, director Michael Cimino (The Deer Hunter) was hailed as a genius based on one film and given carte blanche on his next, the notorious Heaven’s Gate. Now known primarily as one of the biggest flops of all time, its spectacular failure led to the collapse of United Artists, as well as the end of the new “director’s Hollywood” that characterized the ‘70s and a return to the discipline of the studio system of filmmaking. For the new, young directors who thought they could do it all, this was the endgame. Other writers and directors like Paul Schrader and Robert Towne make appearances in ER,RB, as do producers (Barry Diller, et al), and various agents and moneymen, including the colorful producer of The Cotton Club and long-time Hollywood player and “bad boy” Robert Evans. (His continued existence after all he’s put himself through continues to defy logic. For his own take on things read his The Kid Stays in the Picture.) Meanwhile, the only director/star who comes out of this tale possessing what resembles common sense is Warren Beatty, who the author goes to great pains to paint as an annoying perfectionist. But in general, his sins appear to be of much lower degree (his womanizing notwithstanding) than the others. While they were falling apart he kept himself together and spent his time learning to play the game, getting the job done without the personal angst, self-destruction and B.S. others brought to the table. And although his looks got him his start, he wound up being much more than just a pretty face. Those interested in the nuts and bolts of the industry -- as well as the flesh and fantasy of Hollywood -- should find ER,RB a rewarding read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Henry Sheppard

    Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood is an amazing book. It deals with the late 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s: heady days, when a youthful, energetic, free-thinking generation of film directors rose up, seized the reins of Hollywood, and attempted a revolution. Arthur Penn, Dennis Hopper, John Schlesinger, Robert Altman, Bob Rafelson, Peter Bogdanovich, William Friedkin, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Robert Towne, Martin Scorsese, War Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood is an amazing book. It deals with the late 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s: heady days, when a youthful, energetic, free-thinking generation of film directors rose up, seized the reins of Hollywood, and attempted a revolution. Arthur Penn, Dennis Hopper, John Schlesinger, Robert Altman, Bob Rafelson, Peter Bogdanovich, William Friedkin, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Robert Towne, Martin Scorsese, Warren Beatty, Robert Benton, George Lucas, Hal Ashby, Roman Polanski, Brian De Palma, Jonathan Demme, John Milius and Paul Schrader are just a few of the characters who stalk the pages of this book. We know them by the films they made: Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Easy Rider (1969), Midnight Cowboy (1969), MASH (1970), Five Easy Pieces (1970), The Last Picture Show (1971), The French Connection (1971), The Godfather (1972), The Last Detail (1973), Dillinger (1973), Chinatown (1974), Jaws (1975), Crazy Mama (1975), Taxi Driver (1976), Carrie (1976), Star Wars (1977), Heaven Can Wait (1978), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), American Gigolo (1980), and Personal Best (1982). For those of us a distance away from Hollywood, who watched the films and enjoyed them, it was easy to assume these people had been gifted a charmed life; their obvious talent had opened doors and enabled them to make the movies they wanted, to enjoy the process and reap the rewards. The truth was not that simple. For the most part they were driven, tortured souls, who plotted, schemed and bluffed their way to their opportunities. Most of those who enjoyed blockbuster success were crushed by that success. All of them paid a high price. "We had the notion that it was the equipment which would give us the means of production," said Coppola. "Of course, we learned much later that it wasn't the equipment, it was the money." Because the fact of the matter is that although individual revolutionaries succeeded, the revolution failed. The New Hollywood directors were like free-range chickens; they were let out of the coop to run around the barnyard and imagined they were free. But when they ceased laying those eggs, they were slaughtered. p.434 With success came money, and the money brought in cocaine... by the truckloads. The drugs and money fueled jealousy, paranoia, arrogance and greed. Friendships splintered. AIDS, madness, suicide and murder thinned the ranks. It's a remarkable cautionary tale. I wasn't there; I can't testify to the truth of every detail, but I can tell you that it is a riveting read. Highly recommended.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    An insider look at Hollywood and film-making in the 1970's, with a particular emphasis on the major directors and producers of the era, it's a vicious and nasty piece of work. The major players are directors like Coppola, Scorsese, Lucas, Spielberg, Altman, Friedkin, Ashby, Rafelson, and more. Warren Beatty, Hopper, Nicholson, Bob Evans, Bert Schneider are also major players and the books spares none of them. It's particularly interesting to follow the reactions of these guys as they claw their w An insider look at Hollywood and film-making in the 1970's, with a particular emphasis on the major directors and producers of the era, it's a vicious and nasty piece of work. The major players are directors like Coppola, Scorsese, Lucas, Spielberg, Altman, Friedkin, Ashby, Rafelson, and more. Warren Beatty, Hopper, Nicholson, Bob Evans, Bert Schneider are also major players and the books spares none of them. It's particularly interesting to follow the reactions of these guys as they claw their way out of the old school studio systems of Hollywood to get to make their own pictures their own way and produce what they felt were great works of art and tried to collect critical raves. With success came greater power and control and was met with a raging indulgence in excess, resulting in the destruction of much of what they fought for. Drugs and sex are strewn all over this book, along with raging paranoia, mental illness, massive egotism, and incredibly bad behavior by some pretty crappy people. Some of them seem to have realized their failures and flaws, others not so much. The stench of arrogance and egotism still reeks off a lot of these guys (it's almost entirely a book about men; there were almost no female directors, writers or producers back then), especially when they talk about film today. It's a fascinating book. I'm not sure Biskind really understood just exactly what his book uncovered here; he seems too comfortable accepting the belief that the studios seized power back from the directors and "artists" after seeing the money available from blockbusters in a natural reaction to the opportunity and pushing them out to put control back at the top. It's not wrong exactly, but after illustrating how the raging egotism, drug abuse, paranoia, etc. from some of these guys crashed movie after movie with cost overruns and inability to overcome their personal demons to complete the work, it seems clear that the studios also took control back from the directors because most of these guys couldn't handle the responsibility of having that level of power and control. These guys destroyed themselves for the most part, leaving behind a legacy of occasionally brilliant film-making and wasted opportunities and talent.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Paul Lyons

    If there ever was a Renaissance in film, the 1970's would be among the first to claim it. In its ten-year span, the decade would produce some of the finest motion pictures ever made. As chronicled in Peter Biskind's 1998 tome "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls," the road to these classic movies was paved by sex, drugs, lies, deceit, arrogance, hubris, insanity, infidelity, manipulation, compromise, and yes...rock and roll. Actor-director-producer-Warren Beatty, producer Bert Schneider, producer-director If there ever was a Renaissance in film, the 1970's would be among the first to claim it. In its ten-year span, the decade would produce some of the finest motion pictures ever made. As chronicled in Peter Biskind's 1998 tome "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls," the road to these classic movies was paved by sex, drugs, lies, deceit, arrogance, hubris, insanity, infidelity, manipulation, compromise, and yes...rock and roll. Actor-director-producer-Warren Beatty, producer Bert Schneider, producer-director Bob Rafelson, Actor-director Dennis Hopper, screenwriter-director Robert Towne, director Hal Ashby, director Peter Bogdanovich, writer-director Paul Schrader, director Brian DePalma, director Robert Altman, director William Friedkin, director Francis Ford Coppola, director Martin Scorsese, Warner Bros. Execs John Calley and Frank Wells, Universal exec Ned Tannen, Paramount executive-producer Robert Evans, Paramount executive-producer Don Simpson, director George Lucas, and director Steven Spielberg. These are (most of) the major players who made 70's cinema what it was, and thus were the focus of "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls." The stories are fascinating, with Warren Beatty as arguably the nexus of it all. The author proclaims the 70s movies wave began in 1967, with the release of BONNIE AND CLYDE as the first maverick film out of the gate...a film that defied the old Hollywood guard with its nod to the 60's counterculture, sex, and violence. And it was Warren Beatty who made it all happen. Despite having only one hit film to his name, as an actor, Warren Beatty took on the role of ambitious producer and used every skill he had as Hollywood player and tenacious hustler and willed BONNIE AND CLYDE into existence. Better still, Beatty's no-holds-barred persistence not only got the film made, he also made it a hit, with himself reaping an enormous profit. After BONNIE AND CLYDE, Warren Beatty remained a fixture of 70's cinema. From MCCABE & MRS. MILLER to SHAMPOO and THE FORTUNE through HEAVEN CAN WAIT and 1981's REDS. The other heart of "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls" is producer Bert Schneider. A tall, handsome wealthy son of Columbia Pictures President Abraham Schneider, Bert partnered with Bob Rafelson in the 1960's in making the hit TV series "The Monkees," and would later form BBS. At BBS, Schneider would produce EASY RIDER as well as 70's classics like FIVE EASY PIECES, THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, THE KING OF MARVIN GARDENS, and DAYS OF HEAVEN. Peter Biskind devotes a fair amount of the book to Schneider, his hard-partying ways, his girlfriends, his marriages, his infidelities, his triumphs and his failures. Drugs played a giant part of Schneider's life, as did an unchecked passion. He won an Oscar for a documentary he produced, then shocked the Motion Picture Academy by reading a note from a North Vietnamese leader. Then there is legendary producer Robert Evans. As head of Paramount production, Evans was part of the making of such classics as ROSEMARY'S BABY, LOVE STORY, and THE GODFATHER. As a producer at Paramount, Evans made CHINATOWN, MARATHON MAN and POPEYE. Yet Evans too was mired in drug problems that took the wind out of his sails and gave his life nothing but trouble. Yet (arguably) the point of "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls" is that the Hollywood of the 1970's was ruled not by the producer, or agent or studio head, but by the maestro who gave the films life: the director. Unlike any other decade, the 1970s was the decade when directors ruled for better or worse. Throughout the book, the author takes great care at chronicling the careers of the story makers. Robert Altman with the highs of MASH, and NASHVILLE, and the low of POPEYE. William Friedkin with the highs of THE FRENCH CONNECTION and THE EXORCIST, and the lows of SORCERER, and everything after. Peter Bogdanovich's highs of THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, WHAT'S UP DOC?, and PAPER MOON, and the lows DAISY MILLER, and AT LONG LAST LOVE. Martin Scorsese's high with MEAN STREETS, ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE and TAXI DRIVER, and his low of NEW YORK, NEW YORK. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg are more or less thrown under the bus by the author as the "men who ruined Hollywood." Both directors were men who made populist, highly commercial blockbusters that flew in the opposite direction of the commercialized "art" made by their peers Coppola, Scorsese, Altman, Bogdanovich, Freidkin, etc...Lucas's AMERICAN GRAFFITI and Spielberg's JAWS were both gigantic hits, and Spielberg's CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND was another home run for the director. Yet the nail in the coffin for the "great 70's cinema"...the cinema of the auteur, the European-stylized films with rich characters and downbeat endings...was STAR WARS. Once STAR WARS became the massive worldwide phenomenon as it was, nothing in Hollywood was ever the same. For the directors, the author lays the heart of the 70s in the hands of two men: Hal Ashby and Francis Ford Coppola. Ashby cut his teeth as an editor before became a hot director with HAROLD & MAUDE, THE LAST DETAIL, SHAMPOO, BOUND FOR GLORY, COMING HOME and BEING THERE. Yet Ashby' life and career was spoiled by excessive drug use, and mismanagement by studios and stars alike, leading to a troublesome 80's film career and his untimely death. Francis Ford Coppola had an incredible track record in the 1970s. He won a screenplay Oscar for 1970's PATTON, directed THE GODFATHER, THE CONVERSATION, THE GODFATHER PART II, and APOCALYPSE NOW. Yet his brilliance came at a cost. Coppola was a spendthrift megalomaniac with big ideals and a big personality to match. He was a great showman and salesman, yet he also was prone to infidelity, drug use, excess, hypocrisy and outright lunacy. Coppola gambled big, and lost big. He was a genius, but also a tyrant. If everything in "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls" is indeed true, then every movie director (especially the great directors) is a walking nightmare...a true tyrannical despot of some form or another. Peter Biskind lets no one off the hook in his book. Scorsese's drug use and anxiety runs rampant through the pages, as does the unpleasant everything that is Paul Schrader. Bob Rafelson was difficult person to work with, and burned bridges along the way. Altman was defiant beyond his own good, and sometimes cruel. Bogdanovich was full of himself, and was more into pretending to be a director than actually directing. William Friedkin comes off as one of the worst human beings who ever lived, a petulant jerk prone to screaming fits of rage who manage to insult every hand that fed him. Needless to say, there is much to discuss about Peter Biskind's "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls." Yes, the book overstays welcome, as it continues the story into far less interesting 1980's. The accounts written about are debatable at times, especially with some parties denying them completely. However, most of the book is excellent and well-researched. It's an engaging and entertaining read no doubt, especially for anyone who loves those great 1970's films.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Craig Werner

    Like the 70s and the film that helped define it, this book is a slightly incoherent, somewhat frustrating, and for all of that engrossing mess. The book's part industry insider-style summary of wheeling and dealing; part tawdry gossip sheet--I really don't want to know any more about who slept or didn't sleep (according to the obligary "X denies that she slept with Y" addendum) with whom; and part overview of some of the most interesting films ever made in the US. The thesis is clear enough: the Like the 70s and the film that helped define it, this book is a slightly incoherent, somewhat frustrating, and for all of that engrossing mess. The book's part industry insider-style summary of wheeling and dealing; part tawdry gossip sheet--I really don't want to know any more about who slept or didn't sleep (according to the obligary "X denies that she slept with Y" addendum) with whom; and part overview of some of the most interesting films ever made in the US. The thesis is clear enough: the young directors who blew away the Old Hollywood system in the late 60s blew their chance at creating a lasting alternative cinema in the 70s. The culprits were drugs--lots and lots and lots of drugs--sexual indulgence, creative self-indulgence, and a collective failure to live up to the communal ideas they'd started out with. Biskind's not really a very good writer; the style is pedestrian, the approach to evidence utterly non-critical; if he heard a story, that's good enough for him. And there's just about no insight into the films. He evaluates the success of movies primarily on whether they made a lot of money. I was a bit surprised to hear him referring to movies like The Last Picture Show, Raging Bull, and The King of Comedy, all of which I either love or have a deep respect for, as failures because they didn't make the investors a zillion dollars. I can't remember a single moment that gave me new insight into the films. Nonetheless, the stories have a kind of "car wreck" fascination; Dennis Hopper is, to use the vernacular of the time, a trip and a half. Most of the protagonists come off as jerks--Coppola, Bogdanovich, Spielberg, Ashby, etc. You definitely wouldn't want to have been a woman around any of them. But, for all that, they were interesting jerks and if you want to know about them, this is the best book I know of.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Carol Storm

    Best book I have ever read on movies and the movie business! (I make one exception, an old out of print book called FROM SCARFACE TO SCARLETT, Hollywood Films in The Thirties, which is similar in scope, interest, and insightfulness.) This book gives you EVERYTHING about Seventies American films. It traces the development of early masterpieces like EASY RIDER, and THE GODFATHER, the rise of less challenging commercial successes like STAR WARS and JAWS, and even the unspeakably awful excesses and se Best book I have ever read on movies and the movie business! (I make one exception, an old out of print book called FROM SCARFACE TO SCARLETT, Hollywood Films in The Thirties, which is similar in scope, interest, and insightfulness.) This book gives you EVERYTHING about Seventies American films. It traces the development of early masterpieces like EASY RIDER, and THE GODFATHER, the rise of less challenging commercial successes like STAR WARS and JAWS, and even the unspeakably awful excesses and self-indulgence that produced nightmares like HEAVEN'S GATE. The balance between sexy gossip and insightful film criticism is really remarkable -- especially on some of the more deranged and repulsive directors, like Billy Friedkin. You can really (and I mean REALLY) see his loathing for women in THE EXORCIST, but the way his personal relationships are described in this book completely cements the coffin lid shut. This guy was bad news, and it's no accident his films are almost completely forgotten today. (But druids and tree lovers, don't forget to check out his lost masterpiece, THE GUARDIAN.) It's also remarkable the way the author is able to analyze the way market forces impacted even the most beloved masterpieces, like THE GODFATHER. Biskind demonstrates how financial pressures in the Seventies forced each hit film to be "all things to all audiences." The only complaint I have is that some of the greatest films of this time period, such as A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, THE WILD BUNCH, and CHINATOWN, were made by directors not featured in this book. I only wish Peter Biskind could come back and do a similarly epic study of those great films too!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    Easy Riders, Raging Bulls is undeniably fun to read – if it wasn’t I would never have finished. Biskind though dwells on relationships, personal lives and people that simply aren’t very interesting for far too much of the book. Lucas and Kael are boring human beings and yet so many pages are wasted on them. If the fat was trimmed, these stories could be told in a quarter of the length. I wish Biskind spent time discussing De Palma, who turned out some fantastic genre work in the 70s – stuff like Easy Riders, Raging Bulls is undeniably fun to read – if it wasn’t I would never have finished. Biskind though dwells on relationships, personal lives and people that simply aren’t very interesting for far too much of the book. Lucas and Kael are boring human beings and yet so many pages are wasted on them. If the fat was trimmed, these stories could be told in a quarter of the length. I wish Biskind spent time discussing De Palma, who turned out some fantastic genre work in the 70s – stuff like The Fury, Sisters, Carrie, Dressed to Kill – these films are barely mentioned and De Palma only ever used to talk about some other filmmaker. In a decade where filmmakers had creative freedom and were expressing themselves however they pleased, De Palma was a sort of a counter-balance, keeping the genre stuff alive whilst people spent time making dramas. The fact his career has continued strongly since then, it would have made for an interesting chapter. I also can’t say I learnt that much from the book. After reading The Friedkin Connection, I got the idea how the 70s worked for filmmakers and Easy Riders just reiterates what Billy said tenfold – but with less invest because you are spending 2 pages on the production of a film, rather than 50 like Friedkin does. As a snapshot of a decade of great filmmaking, it is a good book and it has made me want to watch many films I’ve missed (I watched The Long Goodbye recently – amazing!).

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tim Boroughs

    This is an engrossing and splendidly written cultural history of Hollywood in the 1960's and 70's and it examines how the film school educated directors like Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola came to dominate the US film industry in this period, and swept aside the old Hollywood movie factories by making highly idiosyncratic movies influenced by European "new wave" cinema. The result was fabulous movies like Bonnie and Clyde, Taxi Driver and Apocalypse Now, which were gritty, confronting This is an engrossing and splendidly written cultural history of Hollywood in the 1960's and 70's and it examines how the film school educated directors like Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola came to dominate the US film industry in this period, and swept aside the old Hollywood movie factories by making highly idiosyncratic movies influenced by European "new wave" cinema. The result was fabulous movies like Bonnie and Clyde, Taxi Driver and Apocalypse Now, which were gritty, confronting and realistic depictions of their respective social contexts and highly developed character studies in their own right. The subject matter is fascinating because Biskind highlights the extreme and obsessive personalities of these film makers and the book is peppered with incredible anecdotes such as Dennis Hopper and his superhuman daily tote of drug and alcohol and Faye Dunaway throwing a cup of piss at Roman Polanski. The book is well laid out and explains the back story to the making of these iconic movies and explores the cultural impact of this generation of film makers who saved us briefly from the tawdry sentimental bollocks which had been the mainstay of the studio system for the previous four decades. Biskind writes extremely well in a highly engaging way and I found myself entertained for the entire book. If you are picking up that I love this book then you are right! Beautiful work Mr Biskind!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Wilson

    One of the great books about cinema. Easy Riders Raging Bulls is salacious and gossipy, yet simultaneosuly a brilliant dissection of filmmakers, producers and, crucially, the best American films from the best period of American filmmaking that we have yet seen. Biskind paints devilish pictures of William Friedkin, Francis Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Dennis Hopper, and nerdish portraits of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas; the arrogance of Robert Altman, Bob Rafelson and Peter Bogdanovich is as One of the great books about cinema. Easy Riders Raging Bulls is salacious and gossipy, yet simultaneosuly a brilliant dissection of filmmakers, producers and, crucially, the best American films from the best period of American filmmaking that we have yet seen. Biskind paints devilish pictures of William Friedkin, Francis Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Dennis Hopper, and nerdish portraits of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas; the arrogance of Robert Altman, Bob Rafelson and Peter Bogdanovich is astounding, and Biskind unstrained relish for Warren Beatty is clear for all to see. With the amount drugs, sex and scandal, according to Biskind, swirling around this group of incredible filmmakers it is a wonder we saw any good films at all before they burned out! But what a set of films we got, the first half of the novel feels like a list of masterpiece after masterpiece, of the likes we are unlikely to see again - The Last Picture Show, Five Easy Pieces, The Last Detail, The Godfather, The Conversation, French Connection, Mean Streets etc etc. And the second half of the novel shows how all these great and talented people blew it. And how we ended up with the 1980s, probably the single worst decade for cinema. Biskind is an engaging writer, with a great eye for rumour and anecdote; and his opinion on individual films is authoriative and informed, making his status as a Hollywood biographer more or less unparalleled.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    This fascinating, compulsively readable book documents the brief but glorious era (late 60’s through the mid-70’s) where personal filmmaking flourished in America, trumping the dictates of studio-dominated product for a time, resulting in great movies like Five Easy Pieces, The Last Picture Show, The Godfather pts 1 & 2, The Conversation, Chinatown, The Last Detail, Nashville, Taxi Driver, The Exorcist, and so many others. The period was so artistically rich it became known as Hollywood’s se This fascinating, compulsively readable book documents the brief but glorious era (late 60’s through the mid-70’s) where personal filmmaking flourished in America, trumping the dictates of studio-dominated product for a time, resulting in great movies like Five Easy Pieces, The Last Picture Show, The Godfather pts 1 & 2, The Conversation, Chinatown, The Last Detail, Nashville, Taxi Driver, The Exorcist, and so many others. The period was so artistically rich it became known as Hollywood’s second golden era. Peter Biskind’s autopsy of this auteur-driven period is quite gruesome, especially when he’s exhaustively detailing the monstrous excesses of its star directors, among them Francis Ford Coppola (an apparently bipolar megalomaniac), Peter Bogdanovich (insufferable twerp), George Lucas (emotionally cold and sterile), and William Friedkin (sociopathic sonofabitch). In the end as we all know, the studios took back control and the 80's happened (shudder), while the majority of the directors, save Spielberg and Scorcese, unable to resist the excesses of the era as well as the demands of their unleashed egos, mostly self-destructed. I really have to read Biskind’s book about the Independent Studios of the 90’s now.

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