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Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

How the Sex-Drugs-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood
Narrated by: Dick Hill
Length: 23 hrs and 41 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (455 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

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 70s - an unabashed celebration of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll (both on screen and off) and a climate where innovation and experimentation reigned supreme.

©1999 Peter Biskind (P)2008 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"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.'" ( Entertainment Weekly)

What members say

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  • Dubi
  • New York, NY
  • 12-14-13

Great Dish, Sketchy Analysis

This book is chock full of great inside baseball on the making of many of the great classic movies of the late 1960s and 1970s -- the Godfather series, Bonnie & Clyde, Scorsese's classics, Robert Altman, etc. etc. There is loads of juicy gossip about the directors, actors and other Hollywood figures who made them. That alone is worth the price of admission. (Although to be fair, quite a number of directors, including Coppolla, Spielberg, Altman, and others, have accused the author of everything from skewing these stories, to half-truths, to outright lies, so take it with a grain of salt.)

The analysis from the point of view of film history left me feeling like something was missing -- the audience. So many of these now-classic films were made under protest or fraught with production problems or in some cases just total accidents. By contrast, there were many labors of love, pet projects and can't-miss efforts that failed. Yet the analysis never looks at the vagaries of public tastes, opinions and reactions as the overriding determinant of what works and what doesn't, sometimes in the short term, sometimes in the long run (Raging Bull, for example, was a critical and commercial flop upon its initial release, only to become an enduring classic over the course of time).

In addition to overlooking the impact of audiences and lionizing some questionable characters who often stumbled into their success, the history of 1970s cinema as presented here is myopic. To draw a straight line from the groundbreaking Bonnie and Clyde through the ruinous Heaven's Gate is a mistake, because there is one line that goes up to Jaws and Star Wars and another that emerges from the indelible impact of the commercial success of those two blockbusters -- that impact is not overlooked, but neither is it treated as the watershed it truly was.

But more than that, there is no more than token mention of the groundbreaking Hollywood filmmaking of the post-war era that set the stage for the "New Hollywood" and the independent cinema that emerged from the ashes of Heaven's Gate. Kudos to the author for giving so much attention to the often forgotten Hal Ashby, but others that emerged from the live TV dramas of the 1950s are barely mentioned (e.g. the Sidneys, Lumet and Pollack) or not mentioned at all (most egregiously, George Roy Hill), even though they were responsible for some of the seminal films of the era.

Likewise, the ruination of Hollywood that we are left with at the conclusion of this book is greatly exaggerated. There is no mention that The Secaucus Seven had already launched a new wave of indie film, to be followed by the likes of Jarmusch, the Coens, Spike Lee, Soderbergh, et.al. in the 1980s, that Hollywood still had some tricks up its sleeve (John Hughes, Barry Levinson, Rob Reiner, Ridley Scott, Oliver Stone, James Cameron -- how many remember that The Terminator was an independent film that was a total sleeper when it first came out?), that Miramax was already founded before the end of the 1980s (notwithstanding the ultimate fate of one of its co-founders), that the midnight movie craze had already launched crackpot auteurs like David Lynch and John Waters, that there were still a lot of good imports from other countries (despite this book's assertion that foreign film became irrelevant once Hollywood was allowed to show nudity and sex).

And newsflash for the author: Woody Allen has directed something live fifty movies since the only one of his credits that is mentioned in this book (What's New Pussycat, which he didn't even direct). Many of the most important of those were part of New Hollywood and immediately thereafter.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Celia
  • New Orleans LA
  • 09-30-12

If you studied film in the '70's...

If you could sum up Easy Riders, Raging Bulls in three words, what would they be?

Real Eye Opener!

What did you like best about this story?

This book is fascinating if you studied film in the '70's or are a film buff. We idolized these guys, analyzed their movies with great seriousness, intently picked apart all the details, wrote papers on them...hearing the back story here completely floored me. All these guys are people just like us, only they were given free reign to go berserk professionally, financially and many times personally. I adored this book, I laughed out loud all the way through it. An amazing bunch of guys (and a few of the wives and girlfriends stand out too), they made movies I've never stopped loving, but this book did me a favor and brought them out of my college days' perceived god status of them and brought them down to earth.

Have you listened to any of Dick Hill???s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes, just as good. He is only suited for a certain type of book and this is definitely one of them!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Way too long to do that but I HATED to finally reach the end. In theory, yes.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • BH FL
  • Deerfield Beach, FL
  • 03-18-09

The total info on Hollywood

This is a great education about the wonderkids of Hollywood. I'm sure the people talked about by the author would love to have this book banned. Sorry, no banning in America. They are just like you and me, except they make millions of dollars and live in unreal worlds. If you like living history and gossip, you'll love this book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Boring

I struggled through half of the book but could not finish it. It's an endless chain of unrelated incidents bent on showing how horrible the new age directors of the 70's were. I am also not a fan of Dick Hill's narration where everything sounds like a scream.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • charlotte
  • christchurch, New Zealand
  • 05-19-15

A in-depth look at Hollywood in the late 60s to ea

Would you listen to Easy Riders, Raging Bulls again? Why?

Yes, I've listened to this about 5 times now, and overtime is as good as the first.

What other book might you compare Easy Riders, Raging Bulls to and why?

Well, I think Peter Biskind's books are in a league of their own, very informative and interesting.

What about Dick Hill’s performance did you like?

He did a great narration and is very enthralling

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

I don't think you could make a film of this book, there is way too much to be conveyed. It's so in-depth, I really enjoyed it

Any additional comments?

Please more Peter Biskind books!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

23 Hours of Wading through Sludge

I don't doubt that most, if not all, of this book's revelations about Hollywood's hero directors and producers of the 1970s are true. It's just that after a while, tale after tale of drugs, sex, megalomania, insecurity, outright insanity and more drugs begins to wear one down. No attempt is made to explore or illuminate the creative brilliance and the process behind it that filmmakers like Scorsese, Coppola and Friedkin unleashed in the 1970s; rather, it unloads a triple serving of dirty laundry alone, leaving the reader wondering how timeless films like The Godfather and Taxi Driver actually managed to get completed. If you're looking for a balanced review of Hollywood history, look elsewhere. If you enjoy gawking at car wrecks, you may just love this book!
The book's structure is somewhat frustrating at times, taking an almost purely chronological approach. This means the author frequently jumps between the stories of several different movies in production before finishing any of them, and the large cast of characters can get confusing with so much skipping around.
The narrator does a great job. His tone and reading style perfectly fit the nature of the material.
I found myself wanting to rewatch (or see for the first time) many of the films covered in the book. Film aficionados should probably add it to their reading list, but be forewarned that you're probably going to want to take a shower after you finish!


6 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Hurray for Hollywood?

A fascinating story about the filmmakers that arrived in the 60s and 70s who tried to recreate Hollywood. At the end what they were able to do was put the power back to the studios by creating the blockbuster movie.

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Great Listen for Movie Lovers

Love the weave of this narrative, going into and out of all of the production stories and behind the scenes profiles of each of these earth shattering / Hollywood changing films. For movie lovers, you should definitely read all of Peter Biskind's stuff. I was mesmerized for 23+ hours. Perfect drive time listening.

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Comprehensive director history 1970s

it was a very detailed of all the directors of 1970s. I would recommend happily

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Smart, Detailed and Hilariously Funny

A terrifically entertaining history of Hollywood from the late sixties to early eighties, Wonderful in it’s messy, silly political incorrectness. Highly recommended.

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  • Colin
  • 11-09-17

Hard Hitting and often Difficult...

This is a fascinating book, documenting the period from the early 70s when a new, young crowd of film-makers descended on Hollywood determined to break the established system where the studio was king, and everyone else did as they were told. But be warned, this is hard-edged and often difficult reading, as the young crowd tasted initial success, only to create an environment worse than the system they sought to overthrow. Much, much worse…

In telling the tale, the writer looks closely at a number of seminal films from the 70s, including Bonnie & Clyde, Easy Rider, French Connection, Jaws, Apocalypse Now and, of course, The Godfather. In every case, these were films made by directors looking to make their mark in the world, whilst at the same time refusing to give way to the studios when they questioned the director’s approach. The ‘inner circle’ of this group of mavericks include Scorsese, Spielberg, Lucas, Coppola, Bogdanovich and Freidkin, and the book looks at their careers during the 70s, from early struggles and failures, through to the breakthrough films that made them famous, and then to the long, painful fall from grace, as all but Spielberg struggle to recreate their early successes.

Nobody comes out of this book with any integrity. I suppose it’s a fact of life that reasonable people don’t become movie directors, but this bunch are nothing more than petulant, indulged children, who see no problem with throwing tantrums (and often other things) on the set or even in public.

Without doubt, the worst of the bunch is Scorsese, who’s temper tantrums are legendary. On one occasion, whilst staying at a plush Hollywood hotel, Scorsese’s wife is on the ‘phone with a business partner, and she is getting angry at him. Marty Scorsese snatches the ‘phone from her, screams abuse at the caller, and then rips the ‘phone out of the wall. Then, still vibrating with anger, he goes downstairs to the lobby to call the guy on a payphone, so he can continue to scream at him.

Lucas, frets over whether his idea for ‘Star Wars’ is actually any good. This mood is not helped by De Palma, Scorsese and Coppola telling him it’s a rubbish idea and he should make ‘Art Films’. Only Spielberg is supportive. When the original Star Wars becomes the biggest grossing film ever, Lucas becomes an overnight megalomaniac, and refuses to help, or even talk to, his former confederates.

And if you think they treated each other poorly, wait until you read how they treated those on the periphery of their universes. Writers, Editors, Backers, Actors and, especially, would-be actress/models are simply used and thrown away like Kleenex.

And one by one, they all follow the same path, as success instils in each an arrogance and ego of unbelievable proportions. Coppola sets the bar here; following the outstanding success of his Godfather films, he sets off to Manilla to shoot Apocalypse Now. He is told by locals that monsoon season is coming, and typhoons are a regular event where he aims to shoot. Does he listen? He does not, and instead builds enormous million-dollar sets in the middle of nowhere, and then throws a tantrum and starts firing people when, as predicted, the whole thing is destroyed by a typhoon.

This book leaves you with the impression that the film-makers of the 70s were simply making it up as they went. Most times they got it wrong, but every so often things fell into place, and a classic was born.

Narration by Dick Hill is excellent, and keeps you engaged throughout.

Recommended

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • piers
  • 01-01-13

Bitchy and Sensationalist intrigue from Hollywood

This is great value for money, its a long and interesting listen.



A friend recommended this book years ago and I couldn't get into it. But it really works as an audio book.

No one really comes out of this book well apart from perhaps Jack Nicholson. These great women and men are reduced to ego-maniac, childish bullies and nerds. Biskind's style is very sensationalist,scurrilous and yet compelling.



The narrator is superb and his delivery is measured, waspish and hilarious.



A great listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Baz
  • 07-16-18

An unflinching account of 1970s cinema

A great listen. Exhaustively researched movie geekdom interwoven with remarkable anecdotes that depict the characters involved.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-15-17

Sex and Drugs and Raging Bull

I've never really 'got' the 60s. The counter-culture that produced this generation of movie makers holds even less appeal after listening to this book. It's very good on the darker side of their natures, less good in celebrating their artistic successes. But I listened to it all - it was oddly compelling.

The narrators halting delivery and demotic turns of phrase took a while to get used to. But he did enunciate clearly, and cynically, as befitted the authors view of those involved.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • CTC
  • 07-19-16

As seductive as the decade it describes

Enthralling account of one of the most imaginative periods in Hollywood. Great insight into the stories behind done of the best movies of all time; The Exorcist, Chinatown, The Godfather and many more. I couldn't stop listening.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr Matthew Pearl
  • 08-26-15

Incredible, an education

Strongly recommend to any lover of film, brilliantly told, a completely immersive experience, the story of these films and directors would make compelling cinema