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Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America Hardcover – January 12, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In his refreshing biography, Biskind (Easy Riders, Raging Bulls) examines Beatty's dual—and often dueling—status as Hollywood legend and notorious womanizer without letting either subsume the other. Beatty's film career began with a starring role in director Elia Kazan's Splendor in the Grass opposite Natalie Wood, the first of his co-stars with whom he had relationships (the list includes Leslie Caron, Julie Christie, Diane Keaton, and Annette Bening, whom he married). As producer and star of 1967's Bonnie and Clyde, Beatty inhabited the brief and violent life of the titular bank robber in a film Pauline Kael called the most exciting American movie since The Manchurian Candidate. From 1971's McCabe & Mrs. Miller, now considered one of the finest westerns of all time, to his Oscar-winning turn as director in 1981's Reds (which he both produced and starred in), Beatty had a hand in some of New Hollywood's most important films. But Biskind does not gloss over the fact that Beatty has not had a box office hit since 1990's Dick Tracy, nor does he ignore the string of flops that have deflated the actor's career (Ishtar, Bugsy, Love Affair, etc.). Yet his respect for Beatty never dwindles, and readers are left with a complicated portrait of a complicated man, arguably a great actor of his generation. (Jan. 5)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Warren Beatty’s exalted status as celebrity movie star and womanizer have rather obscured his credentials as a filmmaker who shares with Orson Welles the distinction of receiving four Academy Award nominations for a single film. And Beatty turned that trick twice, for Heaven Can Wait and Reds, winning Best Director honors for the latter. Biskind does justice by both aspects of the Hollywood legend. Cinephiles will most appreciate his detailed accounts of the filming of such modern classics as Bonnie and Clyde, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, and Shampoo, as well as the legendary flop Ishtar and the brash, ambitious political comedy Bulworth. For those more interested in Beatty’s love life, there’s plenty of dish on relationships with Julie Christie, Diane Keaton, Madonna, and multitudes of other girlfriends, well-known and not. Biskind also covers Beatty’s dabbling in politics, particularly his friendship with failed presidential candidate Gary Hart. What really distinguish this highly readable biography are the notoriously evasive Beatty’s cooperation—to a point—with its realization and Biskind’s access to many of the star’s colleagues and lovers. --Gordon Flagg
Top customer reviews
Does he focus substantially on who Beatty dates? Yes. Nice quote from Cher, " yea, I did him when I was 16 because my Mom and friends really liked him." Does he also focus on his film history and the story behind the story? Yes, and I think very well. For example the history of Beatty's breakthrough to the elite, Bonnie and Clyde, runs a short parallel story of the writers who controlled the story and wrote it for Truffaunt who entertained directing the movie.
Another great insight is his influences from the old communists like Kazan and Odet. Beatty seemed to try and bridge his influences by not being just a young actor. But a young actor wanting to know the old legends and work with them.
But working with Beatty was no picnic. How can a man with so much at his fingertips be such an ass to work with? Can't you look in the mirror and recognize some faults. Only in Hollywood could you get away with this.
This book isn't perfect and another reviewer alludes to some misinformation. BUT, if you follow Hollywood and want to know a lot behind the scenes and how an icon became an icon, deserved or not, this is a GREAT book.
The author does spend a lot of time contextualizing Beatty inside Hollywood during the 60s and 70s, and details all of his high-flying relationships with many of the most famous beauties of the age.
And I found the making of Reds, or even Dick Tracy, to be interesting as a film buff and student of history and pop culture.
But at the end of the day, I found myself asking "why"?
Why did I invest so much time into this deeply flawed, above-average movie star -- while you can compare him to Orson Welles, he is by no means anywhere close to Orson Welles.
So the question remains, why? What did I get out of this book, other than to be mildly entertained and informed about films which were sometimes good, other times not.
On balance I would recommend this only for film or pop culture purists interested in the period -- it didn't really resonate for me much beyond that.
At the end, I was close to loathing Beatty, but actually I found myself pitying him for living such a empty, self-gratifying life. But, apparently, that is the conclusion that nearly everyone associated with him comes to over time. That being the case, Biskind has proven his worth once more--despite what might be an all-time record use of four letter words in seemingly every paragraph--as the reigning king of Hollywood biographers.
Most recent customer reviews
Oh, I'm a fan. I LOVED Bonnie and Clyde, Heaven Can Wait and Bugsy.Read more