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Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood

Written by Peter Biskind

Narrated by Dick Hill


Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood

Written by Peter Biskind

Narrated by Dick Hill

ratings:
4/5 (26 ratings)
Length:
23 hours
Released:
Nov 1, 2008
ISBN:
9781423371106
Format:
Audiobook

Description

When the low-budget biker movie EASY RIDER shocked Hollywood with its success in 1969, a new Hollywood era was born. This was an age when talented filmmakers such as Scorcese, Coppola, and Spielberg, along with a new breed of actors, including DeNiro, Pacino, and Nicholson, became the powerful figures who would make such modern classics as THE GODFATHER, CHINATOWN, TAXI DRIVER, and JAWS, Easy Rider, Raging Bulls follows the wild ride that was Hollywood in the 70's - an unabashed celebration of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll (both on screen and off) and a climate where innovation and experimentation reigned supreme.

"Peter Biskind's great, scathing, news-packed history...is one hell of an elixir--salty with flavorsome gossip, sour with the aftertaste of misspent careers, intoxicating with one revelation after another...an 'A.'" --Mark Harris, Entertainment Weekly
Released:
Nov 1, 2008
ISBN:
9781423371106
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

Peter Biskind edited the bestselling My Lunches with Orson, a collection of conversations with Orson Welles, and is author of numerous bestsellers, including Easy Riders, Raging Bulls and Down and Dirty Pictures, as well as his seminal work on films of the fifties, Seeing is Believing. A contributing editor at Vanity Fair, his writing has appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, and Rolling Stone, among other publications. He lives in upstate New York.


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What people think about Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

3.9
26 ratings / 11 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    Great for all movie lovers.
    One of the most intriguing books I’ve ever read.
  • (4/5)
    Until reading "Easy Riders, Raging bulls" I hadn't realised how important "Bonnie and Clyde" was to the rise of the auteur. However, I didn't need to read "Easy Riders ..." to know that most people in the film business are somewhat nuts. Biskind is a fine writer but seems to want to write in an "edgy" way, which sometimes jars. Still, "Easy Riders ..." is full of behind the scene anecdotes that humanise some of the movie figures we read about, and in some cases shows exactly that they are somewhat nuts. Or in Dennis Hopper's case, extremely nuts.
  • (1/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Interesting book... Shame the audiobook cuts off 5 chapters before the finish.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (1/5)
    This is supposed to be a history of the change in movie-making from the studio system to the "auteur" method. What I chiefly learned from this book is that Hollywood truly is an amoral swamp and there are no good guys there, and probably never have been. All of the wunderkinds from the 70s are nasty little brats whose sole concern is making their movies and they really don't care what happens to anyone while they do it, including wives and children. I don't generally go to movies because they cost too much and the audience has no manners. I am now thoroughly put off renting or borrowing them because of the wretched moral state of those who make them.A book like this is why I never ever want to hear the political opinions of any Hollywood star. They are silly vapid amoral creatures who think their great wealth qualifies them as intelligent and thoughtful, completely forgetting that they make their living reciting someone else's words. Once I hear the idiotic, and almost invariably hypocritical, opinions of Hollywood folks, I never want to see their movies again. This book did not help. Making movies seems to be exactly like making hot dogs: one should simply never learn what goes on behind the scenes.
  • (3/5)
    If you're hoping for some insight into the creative decision making behind your favourite films, this is not the book for you. Easy Riders Raging Bulls is a squalid journey into the private lives of the great film directors of the 70s. It's more concerned with cataloguing the drugs, the damaged lifestyles and the back room business decisions than anything to do with the creative process. The exhaustive parade of bad behaviour can grow tiresome as you try to keep track of all the players and their mistresses. It also turns out that everyone in Hollywood speaks the same grubby language. This too can become a chore to read. Biskind has an unhelpful habit of absorbing the obscenities into his commentary, so we are given phrases like "Spielberg knew he was f*cked". This style of reporting brings the tone down further than it needs to be, adding to the impression that what you thought was a well researched cultural history is actually just a gossip column. (I've quoted the above sentence from memory, it might have been Lucas or Scorsese not Spielberg.) But it is a cultural history and the book is not without its insights. A fascinating read, if you're up for being disillusioned by your heroes. Enlightening, demoralising and ultimately a bit of a downer which reveals how most of the successful people in Hollywood are in fact pretty miserable.
  • (4/5)
    Before Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda made Easy Rider, Hollywood was controlled by the studio system. Directors were considered employees who worked for producers. While many of them became known for a signature style, they did not have full creative control over their work. The producers and the studios had final say.Dennis Hopper and his contemporaries meant to change that. In France, Jean-Luc Goddard and Francios Truffaut among others where changing the game. They were auteur directors who controlled every aspect of their movies, from concept, to script, to cinematography, to editing.Peter Biskind, in his book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, traces the early days of American independent movie-making. He follows a cast of well respected directors: Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogdanovich, Francis Ford Coppola, William Friedkin, Hal Ashby, George Lucas, Stephen Spielberg, Robert Altman and several others. Looking at their collective body of work it's impressive to see what a great decade the 1970's were for American film: Nashville, The Last Detail, M*A*S*H, The French Connection, The Exorcist, The Last Picture Show, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Star Wars, Badlands, Taxi Driver, Jaws, Raging Bull. All made against the odds while their creators struggled to maintain complete control over them by working outside of the Hollywood studio system. Mr. Biskind has done his research. The story of each filmmaker is extensively detailed. Their character; their peccadilloes; their struggle with the studio, their peers and themselves is thoroughly examined. For instance, who knew that Peter Bogdanovich kept a piece of celery in his pillow because the smell helped him sleep. While I was reading the New Yorker reviews Pauline Kael wrote in the early 1980's when I became a serious film goer, I was unaware of how important she was to film makers throughout the 1970's. Her backing was the factor that made several of the above mentioned films possible. Film critics had the power to make or break a movie in the 1970's when films were released slowly to build word-of-mouth as they entered theatres across America. This makes Easy Riders, Raging Bulls interesting reading for film buffs like me, and I suspect even for those with only a passing interest in the topic. However, I did have three problems with Mr. Biskind's book. First, he makes a habit of repeating salacious stories that cannot be confirmed. He relates a particularly unflattering anecdote about a film maker as though it is true, only to insert "the film maker denies this" afterwards. I suppose that it's difficult to write a book when so many incidentscome down to "he said" "she said," but I found Mr. Biskind too often went with whatever version was more sensational. The second problem I had with Easy Riders, Raging Bulls is also one of content. For my taste, there was too much about the film maker's personal lives, their sex lives in particular. I would have liked more analysis of their films than details about their sex lives. Though their sex lives were epic. Epic. Really. You've no idea. Finally, why is there no examination of Woody Allen? Mr. Allen spent the 1970's as a true auteur, making some of his best work: Annie Hall, Manhattan. Nor does Mr. Biskind look at John Sayles or John Cassavettes who never hit the big time the way Spielberg or Coppola did, but always remained in creative control of their work.In then end, almost all of the directors Mr. Biskind covers fell victim to the cliche of Hollywood. Fame became too much for them. Their self-absorption and their self-aggrandizement grew to such heights that they over-reached, drove away those who had helped them early in their careers only to wind up producing a disaster that ruined their careers: Popeye, At Long Last Love, One from the Heart, The Last Movie, 1941, Personal Best. Some, like Robert Altman and Steven Spielberg recovered from their flops and continued to produce good work, while others faded into Hollywood's sidelines. By the end of the decade, the studios and the producers were back in power, and American movies were generally worse than they were in the mid-1960's. Can anyone imagine a line around the block in 2011 for a movie that didn't have an alien or a cartoon superhero in it? Pauline Kael saw this coming. Towards the end of her career she became known for her argument that Star Wars and E.T. had become the norm, infantilizing American movies. This did not make George Lucas happy. In fact he named one of the villains in his movie Willow after her, General Kael. Mr. Lucas would most likely deny this, of course. But Easy Riders, Raging Bulls remains your best source for a look at the last great decade of American movies.
  • (3/5)
    The writing can be hard to follow, but the subject matter makes up for that. There's an enormous amount of name-dropping, including names you probably never heard of before (producers, studio execs, and various assistant whatevers), and when the author mentions 6 or 7 in one paragraph and then says 'He says...' or 'He continues...' and begins a quote, you can't be sure who he's quoting. (I think he must have been required to mention these people in the book in order to get them to spill.)That said, this is a great look into Hollywood of the 1970's. It's amazing to be reminded that in 1973, 'The Sting,' 'The Excorcist,' and 'American Graffiti' were nominated for Best Picture, but 'Serpico' and 'The Last Detail' didn't make the cut! Talk about a golden age.Among other things, we learn that Dennis Hopper was a guy who beat up women (Michelle Phillips divorced him in about a week when he tried to hit her), and liked to threaten people (Rip Torn immediately disarmed him when Dennis tried it on him), and Marlon Brando took him for a punk and that's why he refused to act in any scenes with him in Apocalypse Now.We also learn of the almost unanimous naked ambition of all the people who made it, whilst telling themselves and anybody who would listent that they were the peace and love generation and money was beneath them. Money per se may have been beneath them, but mansions and Mercedes were their universal dream.
  • (4/5)
    Though the subheading of the book is 'How the Sex n drugs n Rock n Roll Generation Saved Hollywood' it may have more accurately been titled 'How the Sex n Drugs n Rock n Roll Generation Saved Hollywood Before Imploding". The author, in chronicling the tales of the new generation of film-makers that wanted to be 'auteurs' and successfully challenged the studio system in the early 70s, also weaves a cautionary tale of how within success can lie the seeds of one's own undoing. Here we see the scrambling for success and recognition while desperately trying to retain some sort of integrity to one's vision. We also see meglomanical egos clashing, fuelled by sex and drugs and money.This is an gripping, if sometimes depressing look at the turmoil within Hollywood, and the lives of some of the most spectacular directors of the 70s. Its focus is firmly on the lives, relationships, deals, and habits of the film-makers of the era, so while it provides fascinating insights into what was happening on the sets of the films (including M.A.S.H., Jaws, Apocalypse Now, the Exorcist, Chinatown, the French Connection and many others that were spectacular failures) it spends less time analysing the movies themselves. This is a book about the making of movies, rather than movies, and an insightful and startling book it is.
  • (4/5)
    Rather too much gossip and trivia and not enough of his genuinely insightful interepretations of the radical shift in how movies were photographed and plotted in the 1960's. Especially annoying is his habit of referring to principals as "Bob" or "Tom" -- when, in fact, he has talked about several people with the same first name, so you're wondering, "which Bob is this?" This is especially irritating because he will introduce someone with both his or her names, but then, with no transitions, mention them again 100 pages later by their first names only. I hate it when I have to keep lreferring to the index to try to keep people straight.
  • (4/5)
    BBC Four: How did you go about researching Easy Riders, Raging Bulls?Peter Biskind: I'd been working at Premiere magazine as an editor/writer for a considerable amount of time and given my age I was very interested in that generation of directors and actors. Whenever I interviewed people like Scorsese or Paul Schrader they waxed poetically about the 1970s when they did their best work. That kind of background stuff was what always got cut out of the Premiere articles. It dawned on me that it might be interesting to do a book about this whole generation, especially as it was increasingly evident to me that movies made during this era were vastly superior to what was being made in the 1950s and 60s and certainly anything made after. Indeed this was the last Golden Age of movies.BBC Four: The book is full of conflicting anecdotes and stories. Did you anticipate that kind of minefield?PB: I guess so. Obviously a lot of this material was 30 or 40 years old so people's memories were not good. Usually if a story was important and colourful enough I would try to interview several different people involved and weave it together or actually state the contradictory sides. With some famous conflicts, like whether Robert Evans saved The Godfather Part II, I just finally despaired about getting the truth out.BBC Four: Do you have any favourite stories that you feel sum up the whole era?PB: There's so many of them. The whole Apocalypse Now story is very revealing. It's an extreme version of what happened to all of those people. One of the themes of the book is the sort of auto-destruction of this whole generation. Partly through drugs, but also through power and success at an early age. Billy Friedkin says that when you become successful you become to some degree isolated from the community you grew up with before you were famous. He said, "Once you take your first tennis lesson it's all over". I always thought that was a telling comment.BBC Four: How much were the directors to blame for the end of that era of creativity?PB: I think the directors were to blame for their arrogance and insularity and that was fuelled by cocaine in many cases. In the beginning they were grateful to be able to make movies through the studio system. They were careful to stay on budget and were to some degree humble. But as they became more powerful they disregarded the shooting schedule and they went way over budget. They were disdainful of the studios, which to some degree is understandable, but they went way over board. They to some degree destroyed themselves. Not all of them but enough of them to make it factor in their decline.BBC Four: What do you think of the current state of American cinema?PB: I think you have to distinguish between Hollywood studio films and what people are now calling "Indiewood" films, distributed by studios, like Adaptation, About Schmidt and Far From Heaven. I think a lot of those films are pretty good. I think the straight studio films, the big budget spectacles, most of them are not good. Although I did quite enjoy Spider-man. But that middle-range is quite good.BBC Four: And the blame for rubbish films should be laid at the feet of George Lucas?PB: I'm sure you don't mean that really. George Lucas made Star Wars and he didn't know it was going to be that successful. Really the blame is on the economic system: on human nature and on capitalism. Obviously if you stumble upon a Star Wars that makes more money than God then you want to make another one. I don't think Lucas is really at fault. I guess you can say the way he conducted his career after those first three films then maybe you could blame him in terms of what you do with your money once you get there.BBC Four: It's fair to say that a lot of the people mentioned in the book were not very pleased when it came out, isn't it?PB: Not everybody in the book. I think several of the principal characters didn't appreciate it and bad mouthed it. Other people responded differently and are fine with it. Some are philosophical and say if you can't take the heat then get out of the kitchen. Nobody likes to have some of their more personal peccadilloes aired in public. My feeling was you couldn't really understand some of these people without talking to some degree about their personal lives. In part some of their collapse was how they conducted themselves personally.
  • (5/5)
    About the 70’s directors and collaboration and how they helped each other out. And everything else to do with the 70’s.Great book showing the collaboration of directors and how they became too big for their britches. Money = lose artistic vision is pervading message. Also, drugs and cheating on your wife is bad. George Lucas and Spielberg never did, and look at them.