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Easy Riders Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-And Rock 'N Roll Generation Save [Kindle Edition]

Peter Biskind
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In 1969, a low-budget biker movie, Easy Rider, shocked Hollywood with its stunning success. An unabashed celebration of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll (onscreen and off), Easy Rider heralded a heady decade in which a rebellious wave of talented young filmmakers invigorated the movie industry. In Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, Peter Biskind takes us on the wild ride that was Hollywood in the '70s, an era that produced such modern classics as The Godfather, Chinatown, Shampoo, Nashville, Taxi Driver, and Jaws.

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls vividly chronicles the exuberance and excess of the times: the startling success of Easy Rider and the equally alarming circumstances under which it was made, with drugs, booze, and violent rivalry between costars Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda dominating the set; how a small production company named BBS became the guiding spirit of the youth rebellion in Hollywood and how, along the way, some of its executives helped smuggle Huey Newton out of the country; how director Hal Ashby was busted for drugs and thrown in jail in Toronto; why Martin Scorsese attended the Academy Awards with an FBI escort when Taxi Driver was nominated; how George Lucas, gripped by anxiety, compulsively cut off his own hair while writing Star Wars, how a modest house on Nicholas Beach occupied by actresses Margot Kidder and Jennifer Salt became the unofficial headquarters for the New Hollywood; how Billy Friedkin tried to humiliate Paramount boss Barry Diller; and how screenwriter/director Paul Schrader played Russian roulette in his hot tub. It was a time when an "anything goes" experimentation prevailed both on the screen and off.

After the success of Easy Rider, young film-school graduates suddenly found themselves in demand, and directors such as Francis Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich, George Lucas, and Martin Scorsese became powerful figures. Even the new generation of film stars -- Nicholson, De Niro, Hoffman, Pacino, and Dunaway -- seemed a breed apart from the traditional Hollywood actors. Ironically, the renaissance would come to an end with Jaws and Star Wars, hugely successful films that would create a blockbuster mentality and crush innovation.

Based on hundreds of interviews with the directors themselves, producers, stars, agents, writers, studio executives, spouses, and ex-spouses, this is the full, candid story of Hollywood's last golden age. Never before have so many celebrities talked so frankly about one another and about the drugs, sex, and money that made so many of them crash and burn.

By turns hilarious and shocking, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls is the ultimate behind-the-scenes account of Hollywood at work and play.

Editorial Reviews Review

Not only is Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls the best book in recent memory on turn-of-the-'70s film, it is beyond question the best book we'll ever get on the subject. Why? Because once the big names who spilled the beans to Biskind find out that other people spilled an equally piquant quantity of beans, nobody will dare speak to another writer with such candor, humor, and venom again.

Biskind did hundreds of interviews with people who make the president look accessible: Scorsese, Spielberg, Lucas, Coppola, Geffen, Beatty, Kael, Towne, Altman. He also spoke with countless spurned spouses and burned partners, alleged victims of assault by knife, pistol, and bodily fluids. Rather more responsible than some of his sources, Biskind always carefully notes the denials as well as the astounding stories he has compiled. He tells you about Scorsese running naked down Mulholland Drive after his girlfriend, crying, "Don't leave me!"; grave robbing on the set of Apocalypse Now; Faye Dunaway apparently flinging urine in Roman Polanski's face while filming Chinatown; Michael O'Donoghue's LSD-fueled swan dive onto a patio; Coppola's mad plan for a 10-hour film of Goethe's Elective Affinities in 3-D; the ocean suicide attempt Hal "Captain Wacky" Ashby gave up when he couldn't find a swimsuit that pleased him; countless dalliances with porn stars; Russian roulette games and psychotherapy sessions in hot tubs. But he also soberly gives both sides ample chance to testify.

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls is also more than a fistful of dazzling anecdotes. Methodically, as thrillingly as a movie attorney, Biskind builds the case that Hollywood was revived by wild ones who then betrayed their own dreams, slit their own throats, and destroyed an art form by producing that mindless, inhuman modern behemoth, the blockbuster.

When Spielberg was making the first true blockbuster, Jaws, he sneaked Lucas in one day when nobody was around, got him to put his head in the shark's mechanical mouth, and closed the shark's mouth on him. The gizmo broke and got stuck, but the two young men somehow extricated Lucas's head and hightailed it like Tom and Huck. As Peter Biskind's scathing, funny, wise book demonstrates, they only thought they had escaped. --Tim Appelo

From Library Journal

A former executive editor of Premiere on 1970s Hollywood.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scandalously fascinating insight into 70s Hollywood.... November 29, 2000
This book is a terrific read: an amazingly revealing insight into the workings of the Hollywood machine and a convincing explanation of why the film industry is the way it is today. Fascinating for any film fan but truly essential for those particularly interested in Coppola, Scorcese, Altman and the other enfants terribles of the 70s. I learned more than I ever thought I would about the strange habits, curious peccadilloes and psychological frailties of these legendary directors and producers. Seminal figures such as Dennis Hopper, William Friedkin, Peter Bogdanovich and Scorsese all come across as frighteningly deranged, emphasising the fine line that separates genius from insanity - and many of these characters clearly ended up on the wrong side of the divide. One of Biskind's great strengths is that he seeks to portray all sides of the story, and it's hard not to believe the majority of what is reported simply for the fact that if wasn't true you can bet your life that lawsuits would have stopped publication in its tracks.
The spirit of the times engendered by the rise of the anti-Vietnam, hippy counterculture, generated a climate where a new form of creativity was allowed to enter the mainstream for the first time. This produced a fabulous glut of films - Bonnie and Clyde, The Godfather, The Exorcist, Taxi Driver, The Deerhunter, Star Wars, MASH and dozens of others. Biskind's belief is that the rise of the super director destroyed this astounding period in Hollywood history - egos and pay checks became so over inflated that eventually the studios realised that they had to seize back control.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Those Who Do Not Learn From History... October 10, 2001
In Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, Peter Biskind puts the filmmaking of the 1970s in perspective in a way that wouldn't have been possible in the 1980s (or even early-'90s). Aside from the fascinating stories behind the most significant films of the era, like The Last Picture Show or The Exorcist, he sheds light on the state of filmmaking today. The current movie landscape--for better or worse--wouldn't look the way it does if not for those award-winning blockbusters or for the high profile flops like Daisy Miller and Sorcerer...which just happened to have been made by the same people. Peter Bogdanovich (The Cat's Meow) and William Friedkin (Rules of Engagement) are only just starting to recover from the turbulent era in which they experienced their greatest triumphs and most resounding defeats. Biskind gives lesser known filmmakers, like the late, great Hal Ashby (Harold and Maude), their due, as well.

Those looking for the definitive book on the filmmaking of the 1970s should be forewarned that this is mostly an overview of an era and doesn't cover every picture or every director, but it's a compulsively readable account of a time we aren't likely to see again. At his worst--and as many have already noted--Biskind can be more gossipy than necessary, but that may just draw in those movie fans who've never actually picked up a book about filmmaking before. Maybe it could even lead them to pick up Andrew Sarris' classic American Cinema next (or the other side of the coin: Kenneth Anger's Hollywood Babylon series).

One way or the other, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls is a worthy addition to Stephen Bach's Final Cut (about the making of Heaven's Gate...and unmaking of United Artists) and David McClintick's Indecent Exposure (about former Columbia prexy David Begelman's fall from Hollywood grace) in revealing the human beings--and the human cost--that helped to shape what is now seen as a high water mark in cinema history. Just ask Quentin Tarantino or P.T. Anderson.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sad loss of paradise in Hollywood. August 19, 1999
By A Customer
"...But it should have been perfect [but] in the end, we f***ed it all up. It should have been so sweet too, but it turned out to be the last time that street guys like us were ever given something that f***in' valuable again".
-Nicky Santoro in the film, "Casino".
A common thread in some of Martin Scorsese's films is the "loss of paradise" theme. How cool was the gangster world of "Goodfellas" before Henry Hill screwed it up by dealing with drugs? Or how cool was Saul Rothstein's world in Vegas before he screwed it up by marrying a scam artist?
In both of these films the chararacters were given the world and in the end the messed it all up. Have you ever wondered why Mr. Scorsese might have gravitated towards these themes? Well, after reading Peter Biskind's "Easy Riders, Raging Bull", I think you might find the answer.
It's a fascinating read about how, for a brief moment, Hollywood went loopy and handed over it's power to the street guys, the directors. Scorsese, Hopper, Beatty, Lucas, Spielberg, Coppola, Friedkin, etc. They became the town's "White Knights" and saved Hollywood from literally going senile.
Now, I don't know how many of the book's stories are actually true, but what the hell! It's a fun - lurid read! The only drawback is the depressing ending, which, of course, is how the young innovative directors scewed up and were never given something so valuable, as running Hollywood, again.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to put down.
About halfway through and find it very interesting to get what happened behind the scenes with some if my favorite movies and stars.
Published 4 days ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Read If You Dare
Now, this book does talk about the films of the late 60's-early-80's quite well. It does list examples. It even has good citings done the way all written work should be cited. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Brian Gagnon
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great job! Just what I ordered!
Published 1 month ago by Matthew Sheldon
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Thank you for meeting my expectations
Published 2 months ago by gingi rochelle
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Lots of trashy gossip -- delicious!
Published 3 months ago by TheDeb
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
The best book ever on the history of filmmaking as we know it today.
Published 3 months ago by filmy
5.0 out of 5 stars WONDERFUL BOOK.
This is a stellar book. Irreplaceable for study of film in the New Hollywood era. Some salacious stories that make for juicy tidbits.
Published 7 months ago by J. Granger
4.0 out of 5 stars great read
So enjoyed this exhilarating history of 70s cinema. Genius, insanity, sex, drugs & rock and roll. Amazing that most of them survived.
Published 9 months ago by Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Gossip and New Hollywood
Peter Biskind is a cross between Hedda Hopper and Nikki Finke! This is my second time reading this book and decided to re-read it and I enjoyed it a lot more the second time... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Elizabeth Lovett
4.0 out of 5 stars Galloping Through 1970's Amercan Film
This was a fun, gossipy read. Ther are so many names though, you need a white board to remember them. Highly enjoyable..
Published 11 months ago by Pepper10
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More About the Author

Peter Biskind is the author of five previous books, including Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'n' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood. He is a contributor to Vanity Fair and was formerly the executive editor of Premiere magazine. He lives with his family in Columbia County, New York.

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