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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The life of one of America's most gifted writers, October 6, 2006
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This review is from: Mad As Hell: The Life and Work of Paddy Chayefsky (Paperback)
Shaun Considine has done us all a favor by writing an outstanding biography of Paddy Chayefsky, the brilliant television, play and screen writer whose legacy includes "Marty", "The Hospital" and "Network". In addition to his writing, Chayevsky is also remembered for his withering response to Vanessa Redgrave's anti-Semitic tirade at the Academy Awards ("A simple thank you would have sufficed.") Fascinating from start to finish, the book contains a plethora of lively anecodates, and is populated by a large cast of notable characters from the 50's, '60's & '70's -- Burt Lancaster, Bob Fosse, Kim Novak, Arthur Miller, Marilyn Monroe, George C. Scott, Sidney Lumet, George C. Scott, and Nancy Marchant, to name a few.

In many ways Chayefsky lived a sad and angry life -- he was chronically depressed, his wife Susan was reclusive to the point of agoraphobia,and his son Dan emotionally troubled. Yet Chayevsky life's was also exciting, productive and successful. Surrounded by devoted and talented friends, he lived large -- full of spit and vinegar, wit, egotism and brilliance.

Chayevksy knew his own worth as a writer; he didn't lack for confidence and he wasn't humble. Despite frustration after frustration, disappointment and betrayal, Chayevksy kept coming back with new ideas and projects. His failures are as interesting as his successes. After finishing the book, I want to go back and read the scripts that never made it to the screen.

Chaveysky was passionate about his writing and demanded artistic control over his work. In a world where writers were seen as paid lackeys, Chayevsky stood up for the rights of the screenwriter as no one else has. He was just good enough to get the concessions he demanded and in so doing, he paved the way for the writers who followed him. And as screenwriters go, I don't think anyone has ever surpassed him. Chayevsky remains the best example of "The Schreiber Theory", a belief that truly great films are created not by the directors or actors, who play supportive roles, but by the auteur.

In this book, Chayevsky comes across as a man of strong, immoveable convictions and towering humanity. His moral compass made him immune to the political flights of fantasy of his generation. An avowed critic of communism and political extremism of any ilk, he remained a defender of human rights and proud supporter of Israel.

You can't read "Mad As Hell" without concluding that Chayevsky was deeply flawed. He was self absorbed, controlling and prone to temper tantrums. And yet, having read this absorbing biography, I respect and love the man even more. He was both insightful and brutally honest with himself. As he said in his deathbed note to his wife Susan: "I tried...I really tried." (Note: They is a special circle in hell for director Ken Russell for his despicable treatment of Chayevksy during the filming of "Altered States", which may well have contributed to Chayevksy's premature death.)

Considine does a wonderful job of letting Chayevsky's family members, friends and colleagues tell the story of his remarkable life.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mad as Hell and Still a Genius, October 2, 2003
By 
The JuRK (Our Vast, Cultural Desert) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mad As Hell: The Life and Work of Paddy Chayefsky (Paperback)
"...(Chayesfky) called a trusted friend at NBC, John Chancellor. He asked Chancellor if it was possible for an anchorman to go nuts on TV. 'Every day,' replied Chancellor."
Paddy Chayefsky wrote NETWORK. That would've been enough to put him in the top grade of all Hollywood screenwriters by itself. Twenty-five years after NETWORK hit the screens, there were dozens of articles that his script wasn't just a satire of the media, it was a genuine prophecy.
But Chayefsky has also done what no other writer has yet to do: he's won three Oscars for screenwriting (the other films were MARTY and THE HOSPITAL).
The man is definitely work reading about. Even if I didn't have an interest in screenwriting, I believe I would still find this book interesting for its look into the "Golden Age of Television" and the behind-the-scenes stories of Chayefsky's film career. The author has done a wonderful job of coming up with a lot of great details and fascinating anecdotes about everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Sam Peckinpah to Bob Fosse to Burt Lancaster.
Paddy Chayefsky was the real deal as a writer and I know his work will be praised and studied for decades to come. Shaun Considine has done everyone a favor by giving us a look into Chayefsky's life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the read, July 18, 2014
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InsultinSultan (Baltimore, MD United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mad As Hell: The Life and Work of Paddy Chayefsky (Paperback)
A thorough work on Paddy's life. A chance to get into his head without being a psychiatrist. This is also a good book about movies and stars and how the business works, even beyond just his life.
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Mad As Hell: The Life and Work of Paddy Chayefsky
Mad As Hell: The Life and Work of Paddy Chayefsky by Shaun Considine (Paperback - September 12, 2000)
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