Monday, September 27, 2010

BOOK REVIEWS: Hollywood Hellraisers - Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson

Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson at the 62nd A...Image via WikipediaBy Andy Webb

Back in 2009, Robert Sellers gave us the first of the "Hollywood Hellraisers" books which focussed upon the lives and careers of legendary hellraisers Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole and Oliver Reed.

Now he has given us another book in the series, "Hollywood Hellraisers: The Wild Lives and Fast Times of Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson", which focuses on the wild lives of Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson, 4 acting legends who are as famous for their exploits as they are for their acting.

Coming in at just over 300 pages you may feel that Sellers barely scratches the surface as he covers the lives of these 4 acting legends. But what he does is craft the book so that the lives of these 4 acting legends almost crossover so we discover how they started in similar ways, became friends, ended up sharing some of the same sexual conquests and so on whilst also giving those expected elements of looking at their childhoods through to adult life. It gives it a feeling of an ongoing story with 4 principle players whose lives are full of sex,drugs, drinking, wild parties and of course a movie career.

How Robert Sellers achieves this is that each of the actors lives share the same timeline, so whilst we learn about Brando's break into acting you also learn what Hopper, Nicholson and Beatty were up to at the same time. It makes it fascinating because whilst at times the actors are separate entities there is always something linking them such as other actors like James Dean or acting coaching. It's actually quite surprising how interweaved these 4 actors lives were even in their younger days.

But as you would probably expect where "Hollywood Hellraisers: The Wild Lives and Fast Times of Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson" is at its most fascinating is in the way it opens up the lives of these 4 notorious Hollywood hellraisers. It's almost comical the way these stars lived from Brando's semi paranoia, Hopper's drug fuelled madness and the womanizing antics of Beatty and Nicholson. But it's also interesting, especially when it tackles subjects such as the shooting at Brando's home, the murder of Sharon Tate who was a close friend of Warren Beatty and so on.

For me personally I enjoyed the look into the life of Brando, the fact he often never learned his lines and had someone reciting them in his ear. Also the fact that he was forced to act again as he needed the money. But the lives of the other 3 actors are just as fascinating especially that of Dennis Hopper and his maverick tendencies when it came to his career. As such you also get a real insight into the cult classic "Easy Rider" and the numerous issues which came whilst making it. But at the same time there is also a tender side to the Dennis Hopper part of the book especially how it highlights that the death of his close friend James Dean seriously affected him.

The Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty parts of the book are just as good and there is something rather comical about the way they managed to score one sexual conquest after another. But at the same time whilst reading "Hollywood Hellraisers: The Wild Lives and Fast Times of Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson" you also understand that both men had serious power in and outside of Hollywood with Beatty having his finger on the pulse of everything go on.

What this all comes down to is that Robert Sellers "Hollywood Hellraisers: The Wild Lives and Fast Times of Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson" is a cracking read full of fascinating information on these 4 Hollywood legends. In fact it's not only so full of information but also so well written that you feel like you have read an in-depth biography on each of the legends instead of approximately 80 pages on each.

Andy Webb writes movies reviews covering everything from the classics through to modern. To read reviews by Andy Webb please visit The Movie Scene.

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  1. I want to create a website similar to sparknotes. How do they get their book reviews?

  2. Hi Brad,

    Great to hear from an eminent webmeister such as yourself!! To answer your question - I don't know. I get my book reviews from Ezine Articles, but the quality varies enormously so I read each one meticulously before posting.



    Dr Robert Muller.