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Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America Hardcover – January 12, 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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)
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From Booklist

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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (January 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743246586
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743246583
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.7 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,477,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Peter Biskind is a reknowned film writer who has a special affinity for the 1960s and 70s, a time when the movie industry experienced a tectonic shift and Warren Beatty was at its epicenter. Beatty is perhaps the single greatest example of a living artist who straddled both "old" and "new" Hollywood, so a complete bio of him serves also as a historical document of the evolution of film making. Readers seeking nothing more than sexual gossip will likely be somewhat disappointed, as Beatty's legendary exploits are presented against the much larger canvas of his arduous, sometimes decades-long struggles to bring films such as Reds to fruition. In Biskind's capable hands Beatty transcends easy categorization and is revealed to be fiercely intelligent, visionary, and eccentric -- in other words, very complex and much like the era in which he rose to prominence. I found Star to be a compelling read and, in the end, a most respectful attempt to capture the man in full.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
More interesting that Warren Beatty's conquests, beyond-belief narcissism and generally callous behavior toward his colleagues is what is revealed about the challenges of getting a movie to the screen. If you are interested in the larger overview of movie-making, getting through the more superficial stuff is worth the effort.
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Format: Hardcover
Both the book `Star' and the subject itself, Warren Beatty seem to be filled with contradictions. Peter Biskind gives Beatty credit for what he says are his unmatched successes, but then on the same page will write of the flops and terrible difficulties Warren creates for those who surround him, both professionally and in his love affairs. The contradictions are constant, even those who hate him can't help but liking him. As stories of Beatty's life in Hollywood are explained, they are followed with statements such as: "Beatty now insists that none of this ever happened...and in 1971, when asked if it was true, Beatty said, 'Probably. Possibly'."
Of course the book has details of Beatty's many affairs, but then as Biskind also explains in his introduction, he decided not to include Warren's marriage with Annette Bening, so if you are looking for that part of Beatty's life it is not included, nor is his life before the movie 'Splendor in the Grass'. What is integrated are the details of Beatty's professional career and the difficulties that developed on his movie sets.
This is not really a personal biography since those close to him, his sister, his friends and most of his former lovers will not give interviews. Most of the details are professional and concern his ability to bed almost any woman who crosses his path. Even though Beatty gave permission for this book, he has, like many others before him who authorize biographies then disputed some of what is written.
The cover proclaims "How Warren Beatty seduced America". That question is really never answered; but if you are a fan of Warren Beatty or someone who wishes to read about the moviemaking process and Hollywood community you might enjoy the 600+ pages of information contained in this book.
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Format: Hardcover
... came away wondering if Beatty deserved *this* much analysis.

Oh, I'm a fan. I LOVED Bonnie and Clyde, Heaven Can Wait and Bugsy. I appreciated Bullworth, Shampoo and Reds. I enjoyed reading about how these films came to be. Those are six very good films.

Consider Paul Newman or especially Robert Redford, Beatty's contemporary and, it seems, his chief competitor. (I love how whenever the aging Beatty met someone who worked with the equally aging Redford, he'd get all catty and ask, "How's his skin?") When thinking of those two, I'd be hard put to limit myself to six films that rocked me.

So then you realize that it isn't just what's on film that makes Beatty fascinating. It's also his prodigious, legendary love life. And it's covered in some detail here. I was surprised by the vulgarity of much of it, because Beatty is so reticent and classy in personal interviews. But I wasn't offended ... At least not by the women.

I was offended by the laissez-faire attitude both Beatty and his biographer display toward David McLeod. Beatty's cousin and personal assistant was a serial child molester and fugitive who was found dead after years on the lam in Canada. The book seems to take the view that McLeod was the victim, not the young people he exploited. And that is appalling.

I also wonder where Annette Bening fits into this. While she was the one who got the Great Seducer to walk down the aisle, she is not presented as any more interesting or important to Beatty than Diane Keaton or Leslie Caron or Joan Collins or Natalie Wood, and perhaps a bit less interesting or important to him than Joyce Hyser, Michelle Phillips and Julie Christie. So why Annette? She's portrayed as more suitable as a wife and mother than Madonna, but then, who's not?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I hate to admit it, but I really enjoyed this book.The author rises above the obvious wonderful gossip, giving us a good look into how Hollywood and celebrity politics work. The message ultimately is depressing, however, once it sinks in how much influence and power people can have because they are gorgeous and had a lot of luck with early roles.
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