Wednesday, February 27, 2008

E.R., R.B.

As I recently mentioned, I just finished reading Pictures at a Revolution by Mark Harris, which is about the five movies nominated for the Best Picture Oscar in 1967, and how they reflected momentous changes in Hollywood. I'll have a full review of that book up on Pajiba next week.

For now, though, it's kick-started a movie book spree. (This has been happening a lot lately, and it's a trend I'm happy about -- I'm currently trying to hold together coalitions of books about William James, Dostoevsky, and movies. At some point, I'll have too many plates in the air -- a terrible metaphor for reading -- but for now it's fun.) So I'm about a hundred pages into Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind, which starts with Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate, the moment that Harris expands into his book. When Biskind gets to Easy Rider, you see why one reviewer called the book "that rarity, a Hollywood exposé that you can read mouth agape, slurping up scandal and titillation so fast you're in danger of choking -- without feeling ashamed of yourself."

Well, maybe a little ashamed. The book is gossipy before all else. There are great moments when Biskind relates some astoundingly gross or dangerous act of human behavior and adds an asterisk at the end. The asterisk leads you to a note like this one: "Geffen says this never happened."

This is a delightfully typical paragraph:
Paranoid to the end, Hopper demanded Feinstein's exposed stock, saying, "I don't trust you -- gimme all your film, I want it in my room!" Feinstein started throwing the film cans at him, whereupon Dennis jumped him, kicked and pummeled him. They went flying through a door into the room shared by Basil and Black. According to Dennis, Peter was in bed with both women. The two men paused for a second to contemplate this spectacle, and then Feinstein heaved a television set at Dennis. (Says Black, "I was never in bed with Peter Fonda, believe me.")


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