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Who the Hell's in It: Portraits and Conversations Hardcover – September 28, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (September 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375400109
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375400100
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #402,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While Who the Devil Made It allowed Bogdanovich to chat with Hollywood's great directors, this work finds him hobnobbing with some of the screen's legendary actors. He arranges the profiles according to when he met the subjects. Bogdanovich began as an actor, studying under Stella Adler, but met many of his subjects as a journalist for Esquire and other publications in the 1960s. Some of those encounters resulted in lifelong friendships with stars like Cary Grant and Jerry Lewis, but once Bogdanovich began writing and directing his own movies (like the Oscar-nominated The Last Picture Show), several relationships became professional, too, which leads to tales of working with legends like Boris Karloff and Audrey Hepburn at the end of their careers, as well as a heartbreakingly poignant chapter on the making of River Phoenix's last film. There's someone for just about every sort of film buff: from Bogart and Bacall to Sinatra and Martin, from John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart to John Cassavetes and Ben Gazzara. Despite the strong autobiographical context, Bogdanovich never dominates, always giving his stars center stage and ending each chapter with a list of recommended viewing. Those who like classic movies will fall in love with this book and, despite its nearly 600 pages, they'll find themselves wishing for more. 120 photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

As they did with his 1997 compendium on film directors, Who the Devil Made It, critics embraced Bogdanovich’s Who the Hell’s in It, his paean to legendary Hollywood actors, most of whom are now dead. Reviewers applaud the detail and care with which Bogdanovich paints his subjects—Audrey Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich, among them—and the professional insight he brings to this collection. "Inside the bon vivant and raconteur that is today’s Bogdanovich," writes the Washington Post, "is an honest-to-goodness film historian." They agree Bogdanovich is singular when he allows Lauren Bacall to reminisce about Bogey and prompts Jerry Lewis to hold forth on Dean Martin. However, several conclude that Bogdanovich’s friendship with his principals sometimes obscures his ability to view them with the cold eye necessary for objective analysis.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By S. Berner VINE VOICE on October 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're looking for a book that spills the dirt on some of the biggest names in Hollywood (when Hollywood WAS Hollywood), this ain't it! Bogdanovich, as he did with the great directors in "Who The Devil Made It?", has penned love-letters to some of tinsel town's greatest performers. As with the first volume, almost all of these pieces are told from the personal viewpoint of his inter-actions with each of the stars, a ploy that could become tedious in less capable hands. It is important to remember, however, that, before he was a director, and sometime actor, Bogdanovich was one of the best writers on the art of film, a talent he retains to this day. The pieces vary in length from less than 10 pages to an almost novella length essay on Jerry Lewis. The problem, if any, is that the short pieces often seem TOO short and the longer ones, especially the Lewis piece, could have stood a little trimming. But, all in all, these mash notes (you won't find many negative comments on any of his subjects) are beautifully written and speak of a time and place we shall never see again. If you love film, this is your next big read!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Peter Bogdanovich, the director of such films as The Last Picture Show and The Cat's Meow, has compiled in this book a group of essays, each one about a specific actor, many, if not all, of them legendary (the actors, not the essays). The actors range from Stella Adler, the legendary acting coach, to River Phoenix, the tragic model for fatal drug overdoses.

Some of the chapters are less involving than others, and this can be attributed to Bogdanovich's limited relationships with some of the subjects in the book. However, some of the chapters are also incredibly gripping, as Bogdanovich paints personal portraits of those close to him throughout his years in film.

My personal favorite chapter was about the aforementioned Phoenix, who was a train wreck waiting to happen, but as Bogdanovich tells it, he was also an unbelievable talent and just a great guy to be around - that is, while he was still around.

The other actor that really captured my attention was John Cassevetes, who is probably more well-known as a pioneering director and producer of independent films. Bogdo (as Cassevetes referred to him) is able to explain some of Cassevetes's genius and cavalier attitude towards filmmaking, which was basically "I'm making this film the way I want - you're either in or out." You just have to respect that.

Overall, the book is uneven, and it almost has to be, with such a wide array of Peter-profiled personalities. This gets a recommendation for those interested in classic Hollywood film lore and the "real" lives of screen legends.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on October 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book and flipping through it came upon some still pictures of John Wayne from several of his movies. This made me turn the pages back to the beginning of that chapter and read it. Then I turned the page and the next chapter was Henry Fonda. I was getting tired of standing up so I took it home with me.

The author has been working with actors virtually all of his life. And he has done this, not as a reporter, but as one of their own. He's acted, directed, written, just about everything in the movie business. In this book he is not writing from second hand reports, he knew and associated with the people he is writing about. Well in a few cases he knew people around them, like Arthur Miller, Marilyn Monroe's husband.

This book has 25 chapters, one each for 25 of the most memorable people Hollywood has produced.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Louise A. Evans on March 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you love the old movies and their stars, you'll love reading Mr. B's reminiscences. He met and worked with so many of them! His wonderful writing style is conversational, not scholarly, which is not to say that he doesn't know his subject. Peter Bogdonovich loves and understands movies and moviemaking, and has a great appreciation for actors and actresses. His book is a great read!!
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unlike other books of this type, all the articles came from personal interviews. this gave the book an intimacy that other biographical works do not have. if you are a jerry lewis fan, there are over 50 pages of insightful information and a more personal look into the thinking of jerry lewis. the article on humphry bogart, though shorter, was also quite insightful. on a whole, i would say that this is possibly the most interesting and unique book of this genre that i can remember reading. leah k.
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