Peter ashley park and ride reviews
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter BiskindHowever much is true, however much really happened that way, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How The Sex N Drugs N Rock N Generation Saved Hollywood by Peter Biskind remains one of my favorite non-fiction reads. For those who hear film history and think Titanic, in 1967, the major American film studios were in such disarray and the counterculture seemed to be overturning conventions with such speed that a new generation of filmmakers, by and large under the age of 30, (and universally white males), briefly seized the controls. This director-driven era of American film lasted ten years and generated such groundbreaking pictures as:
Easy Rider, M*A*S*H, The Last Picture Show, The Godfather, American Graffiti, The Exorcist, Mean Streets, Chinatown, Jaws, Shampoo, Taxi Driver, Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Apocalypse Now and Raging Bull. Biskind, the former executive editor of Premiere magazine goes behind the scenes of each film and others to explore the creative hubris that resulted in these ever being made and the personal hubris that destroyed the careers of many involved, as well as ultimately turning control from the artisans back over to the financiers.
Some choice excerpts:
-- [Peter] Fondas call couldnt have come at a better moment for [Dennis] Hopper. He had hit rock bottom. A wild and disheveled sometime actor, talented photographer, and pioneering collector of Pop Art, a former pal and acolyte of James Dean, whom he had met on the set of Rebel Without a Cause, Hopper had been blackballed for crossing swords with director Henry Hathaway. He was in the habit of buttonholing studio types at parties and hectoring them about the industry--it was rotting from within, it was dead--the Ancient Mariner on acid. He kept saying, Heads are going to roll, the old order is going to fall, all you dinosaurs are going to die. He argued that Hollywood had to be run on socialist principles, that what was needed was an infusion of money channeled to young people like himself. He recalled, I was desperate. Id nail a producer in a corner and demand to know, Why am I not directing? Why am I not acting? Who wants to deal with a maniac like that? They smirked, moved away.
-- Now that The Last Picture Show was happening, Bogdanovich finally got around to reading the book. Peter was in a funk. He was a New York boy, what did he know from small town Texas? Polly [Platt] liked the book because it spoke to her experience growing up in the Midwest. There were all these movies about this, but they were all fake, she says, Everything thats in that book, the taking off of the bra, hanging it on the car mirror, the hands that were cold and the girl who would only let him touch her tits, just barely getting your hand up this girls leg, were experiences Id had as a young woman. There were parts of the womans body that were completely off limits in America. These were things that it was just impossible to show in Hollywood films, whereas in European films, like Blow-Up, you saw pubic hair.
-- Most films used professional extras; the same faces would turn up again and again, looking like cookie cutouts. Francis didnt want to use professionals, because he didnt want The Godfather to look like other movies. He wanted the faces to look authentic, so he spent a lot of time casting the extras. Says [Gray] Frederickson, That was not the way Hollywood had ever done things before, and it freaked them out. Extras were extras. To the studio, it was just time wasted. The day they shot Clemenza with the cannoli, Jack Ballard, Paramounts head of physical production, told Francis, If you dont finish on time today, youre not gonna come to work tomorrow. Rumors flew that, indeed, Coppola was going to be fired.
-- Usually, when studio executives screen a picture, they exit without comment. After Ashley, Calley, and Wells saw The Exorcist for the first time, they just sat there, dumbfounded. Calley asked, rhetorically, What in the fuck did we just see? They loved it, but did not know what they had, and decided to release it in no more than thirty theaters, where it was to play exclusively for six months, a terrible release pattern for a potential blockbuster, as The Godfather had shown. Nor did Warners preview the picture. They were afraid to. Says [William] Friedkin, If The Exorcist had previewed it would have never come out. Cause people would have written on the cards, This is terrible, you have a little girl masturbating with a crucifix, you dirty Jew bastard. Those were the kind of notes we got anyway, afterward. But if wed gotten them before, they would have died.
-- Meanwhile, [Paul] Schrader continued to write furiously. He desperately wanted to direct. Somewhere in between how Obsession and Yakuza turned out I realized that if you were a critic or a novelist, you lived by your words, he says. When youre a screenwriter, that didnt happen. Youre half an artist. If you wanted to be in control of your own life, you had to be a filmmaker. He rewrote the Taxi Driver script, wanted it to be an American Notes from the Underground, an American Pickpocket. He read the diary of Arthur Bremer, the man who shot George Wallace. One night, in a New York hotel, he picked up a girl in a bar. When he got her to his room, he realized that she was 1. a hooker, 2. underage, and 3. a junkie. At the end of the night, I sent Marty [Scorsese] a note saying, Iris is in my room. Were having breakfast at nine. Will you please join us? A lot of the character of Iris was rewritten from this girl who had the concentration span of about twenty seconds.
-- Lucas felt he was ready to screen Star Wars. The special effects werent finished, and George had cut in black and white dogfights from old World War II films, but you got the general idea. DePalma, Spielberg, Huyck and Katz, Cocks, and Scorsese met at the Burbank airport. It was foggy, and the flight to San Francisco was delayed. When it finally took off, Scorsese wasnt on board. He was as nervous about Star Wars as Lucas was about New York, New York. He hated flying, but Huyck and Katz thought, Well, hes really competitive, he really didnt want to see it, didnt want to know about the film. As Scorsese puts it, Youd have the anxiety--if its better than yours, or even if it isnt better than yours, you think it is. And your friends will tell you it is. And you believe it. For years.
-- Simply put, the success of Star Wars, coupled with the failure of New York, New York, meant that the kinds of movies Scorsese made were replaced by kinds of movies that Lucas (and Spielberg) made. As [John] Milius put it, When I was at USC, people were flocking to Blow-Up, not going to the theaters to the jolted by a cheap amusement park ride. But [Lucas and Spielberg] showed there was twice as much money out there, and the studios couldnt resist that. No one had any idea you could get as rich as this, like ancient Rome. You can clearly blame them. And Friedkin, Star Wars swept all the chips off the table. What happened with Star Wars was when like McDonalds got a foothold, the taste for good food just disappeared. Now were in a period of devolution. Everything has gone backward toward a big sucking hole.
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls has my highest recommendation for students and others discovering the key films of the era and are looking for more information about this gilded age in Hollywood. Biskind really does his work, getting superstars like Warren Beatty and Steven Spielberg on the record as well as those who worked behind the scenes--like film editors Marcia Lucas and Paul Hirsch--who never became famous. Theres gossip (the author has contributed to Vanity Fair) and probably a bit of exaggeration or even misrepresentation on a few fronts, but Biskind covers multiple sides of any event pretty well. None better than the test screening of Star Wars in San Francisco.
With the effects and sound finally finished, Lucas screened it again at the Northpoint, just like Graffiti. Marcia had taken a week off from New York, New York to help George. Previews always mean recutting, Lucas said gloomily, anticipating the worst. The suits were there, Ladd and his executives. Marcia had always said, If the audience doesnt cheer when Han Solo comes in at the last second in the Millennium Falcon to help Luke when hes being chased by Darth Vader, the picture doesnt work. From the opening shot of the majestic Imperial Starship drifting over the heads of the audience across the black vastness of space studded with stars blinking like diamonds, the place was electric. They made the jump to hyperspace, and you could see bodies flying around the room in excitement, recalls Hirsch. When they get to that shot where the Millennium Falcon appears at the last minute, not only did they cheer, they stood up in their seats and raised their arms like a home run in the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series. I looked over at Marcia and she gave me a look like, I guess it works, ya know? So we came out, I said to George, So whaddya think? He said, I guess we wont recut it after all.
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London Day 6 Part 1: Kensington Palace, Hyde Park, Sherlock Holmes Gift Shop, Peter Pan Statue
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