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Being Hal Ashby: Life of a Hollywood Rebel (Screen Classics) Hardcover – March 19, 2009
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"Ashby's quiet genius brought us the some of the best American films of the '70s―Harold and Maude, The Last Detail, Shampoo, Coming Home, and Being There―movies which have not lost their compassion, relevance or unforced artfulness with the passage of time. Dawson's biography provides a thorough and insightful overview of why Ashby was so highly regarded by friends and colleagues, not just as a filmmaker, but as a remarkable human being." ―Lee Hill, author of A Grand Guy: The Art and Life of Terry Southern"
"Film scholars have frequently lamented the lack of a Hal Ashby biography. Now, there is one and it will long remain the definitive study. In addition to making a close analysis of Ashby's work, Nick Dawson has also sought out the people best qualified to provide the most informed and incisive insights into his personal life and professional achievement. There should be no excuse to deny Ashby his place among the most important American directors of the post-studio era." ―David Parkinson, author of History of Film"
"Scrupulously researched and sensitively rendered, Being Hal Ashby is the definitive biography of a protean, gone-too-soon talent." ―David Stenn, author of Bombshell: The Life and Death of Jean Harlow"
"Finally somebody has put down in print―and in fascinating, intricate detail―what so many have known for so long, and in doing so has deepened our knowledge of Ashby's contributions to American cinema. Hal Ashby and his films are deserving of great attention; Nick Dawson's book is the first important step towards making this so." ―Aaron Hunter, Department of Film Studies, Queen's University Belfast"
"Finally, a book―and a very good one indeed―on Hal Ashby, the neglected, least appreciated director of the 1970s. Hopefully, Dawson's excellent volume will revive his reputation and get him the attention he deserves." ―Peter Biskind, author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood"
"Glides through Ashby's wrecked personal relationships, wisely choosing to dwell instead on the work of a man whose career consumed his life. A worthwhile portrait by a capable biographer." ―Kirkus Reviews"
"Dawson, an editor at FilmsInFocus, has written a superb biography of this troubled, talented man." ―Tucson Citizen"
"Penetrating, insightful, with keen and precise discussions of each of the director's films, this book is a celebration of Ashby's work and his rebellious spirit." ―John Foote,Incontention.com"
"Mention Hal Ashby's name these days and eyes usually glaze with nonrecognition. Start listing the late filmmaker's movies and they glimmer with admiration . . . . Author Nick Dawson, who wasn't born when Ashby thrived, aims to end that anonymity." ―tampabay.com"
"In the first real biography of Ashby, FilmInFocus editor Dawson delivers a book that is simultaneously informative, insightful, and genuinely fun to read." ―Library Journal"
"In this groundbreaking and exhaustively researched biography, Nick Dawson draws on firsthand interviews and personal papers from the Ashby's estate to offer an intimate look at the tumultuous life of an artist unwilling to conform or compromise." ―Turner Classic Movies"
"Dawson's superlative biography is sure to renew interest in the director of Harold and Maude, The Last Detail and Being There. He has written a comprehensive and sympathetic book, generously quoting from interviews from family and collaborators from every period of Ashby's life, as well as from personal letters. . . . Being Hal Ashby joins Patrick McGilligan's Robert Altman: Jumping off the liff as one of the definitive books on Seventies cinema." ―Film Comment"
"Depicts the director refusing to capitulate to an increasingly corporate industry."―Village Voice"
"[Hal's] bad luck, bad decisions, self-destruction due to excess, and stubborn refusal to get his deteriorating health checked out... [are] excellently recounted [this] book."―indieWIRE"
"Dawson's impeccably researched and admirably clear-eyed biography reclaims Ashby from the fog of myth and sets his career in perspective, reminding us again what a loss his death was." ―DGA Quarterly"
"It's obvious that Nick Dawson has a deep appreciation of the director's work and his enthusiasm is contagious. . . . When a book inspires me to reevaluate my own opinions about a filmmaker's career, it's well worth recommending." ―Cinebeats"
"Dawson depicts Ashby's professional and personal relationships in a way that is fittingly yet painfully human." ―Anniston Star"
"Dawson's brilliantly-written biography will long remain the definitive literary exploration of Ashby's work." ―Hugh Lilly, Insequential"
"Films and books strive toward a common goal: telling a story. And very few modern filmmakers are as good at spinning a yard as the late Ashby was, the subject of a penetrating and applause-worthy biography written by film journalist Nick Dawson." ―Pop Matters"
"Rebel is a biography that finally tells the full story of Ashby's unlikely journey from Ogden, Utah to Hollywood." ―Facets Features"
"Nick Dawson should be teaching a course in how to write a Hollywood biography. Being Hal Ashby is note perfect, with the appropriate attention paid to the art and to the artist's messy life." ―Creative Loafing"
"The legendary director . . . has finally become the subject of a long-overdue biography." ―Splice Today"
"[Ashby's] speedy rise and spectacular swan dive from Tinseltown's high board is an old story, but a fascinating read as relayed by Nick Dawson in his scrupulously researched Being Hal Ashby: Life of a Hollywood Rebel." ―Sunday Star Ledger"
"A rigorously researched, page-turning biography of the iconic director that is highly recommended." ―Filmmaker Magazine"
"A fascinating and fun read for anyone acquainted with Ashby's work." ―GreenCine Daily"
"Dawson [excels] when reporting on film, and both Beatty and Ashby remain object lessons of filmmakers taking chances at the top, not simply as first-timers with nothing to lose." ―Bookforum"
"Nick Dawson has written the first biography of Ashby, a work that examines the director's tormented personal life and childhood, and traces the troubled personal skein into an exemplary body of work in motion pictures." ―Editors Guild Magazine"―
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Author Dawson spent a decade researching and writing this biography, and the results do shed much light on Ashby's life. But aside from filling in the factual gaps, the book seeks to recognize Ashby's artistry, clarifying what his specific strengths were and refuting the absurd idea that this deep and protean artist was merely a hired gun. Invariably it was those films confiscated and re-cut by the suits that tanked; most of the films on which Ashby was allowed to complete his vision were commercial and critical hits. Dawson also debunks Ashby's rep as a drug casualty: while Hal did love his weed, and famously slept only a few hours per night, the book makes it clear that he remained professional to the end.
Sometimes I wish that Dawson were more penetrating--in regard to the films as well as the psychology of the subject himself--but in terms of raw material, this book is an invaluable first step in re-evaluating a great but strangely forgotten artist.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well written! The best review I can give a biography is that you're left feeling like you knew the subject personally. This book accomplishes that.Published 16 months ago by Greg G.
Great book about Ashby, editing, Hollywood and how movies get made - or don't.Published 17 months ago by Artie S.
Solid overview of a great American director, much needed and deserved. Landlord, The Last Detail, Shampoo, Harold and Maude, vastly underrated and worthy of review.Published on May 22, 2014 by doinel
This is an absolutely wonderful biography. Nick Dawson has given this iconic director the book he deserves.... A page turner that fills in the story with great detail.Published on March 5, 2014 by larry nelson