Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

  • by Peter Biskind
  • Narrated by Dick Hill
  • 23 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.


What the Critics Say

"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)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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!

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- Scott

Great Dish, Sketchy Analysis

What did you like best about Easy Riders, Raging Bulls? What did you like least?

This book is chock full of great inside baseball on the making of many of the great classic movies of the late 60s and 70s and juicy gossip about the directors, actors and other Hollywood figures who made them. That alone is worth the price of admission.

On the other hand, 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 even total accidents, and by contrast, so many of the labors of love and pet projects and can't-miss efforts were failures, yet the analysis never looks at the vagaries of public tastes, opinions and reactions and the overriding determinant of what works and what doesn't.

Would you recommend Easy Riders, Raging Bulls to your friends? Why or why not?

I would recommend the book to friends because of all the salacious detail and the many forgotten facts (e.g. Raging Bull was critical and commercial flop when it was first released). But I would warn them that beyond that, the analysis was less than rigorous.

Which character – as performed by Dick Hill – was your favorite?

Not really relevant in a non-fiction work that touched on many, many different real-life characters and quoted scores of people. But Hill does a good job of narrating those many quotes.

Was Easy Riders, Raging Bulls worth the listening time?

Because the analysis was suspect, it can be argued that at 24 hours, it was overlong. It would have worked better as an inside look at the making of these movies without the analysis, in which case it would have probably come in at a more manageable 16-18 hours.

Any additional comments?

In addition to overlooking the impact of audiences and lionizing some questionable characters who often stumbled into their success, the history of 70s cinema as presented here is myopic. First of all, to draw a straight line from Bonnie and Clyde through Heaven's Gate is a mistake, because there is one line that goes up to Jaws and Star Wars and another than emerges from the impact of those two blockbusters (the book does not overlook that impact, but it doesn't treat it 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 50s are barely mentioned (e.g. Lumet) 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 makes no mention of the fact that The Return of the Secaucus Seven had already launched indie film, to be followed by the likes of Jarmusch, the Coens, Spike Lee, Soderbergh, et.al. in the 80s, that Hollywood still had some tricks up its sleeve (John Hughes, Barry Levinson, Rob Reiner, Ridley Scott, Oliver Stone, James Cameron -- how many people 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 80s, that the midnight movie phenomenon had already launched auteurs like David Lynch and John Waters, and that there were still a lot of good imports coming from other countries (despite this book's assertion that foreign film became irrelevant once Hollywood films were allowed to show nudity and sex).

And newsflash for the author: Woody Allen has directed 45 movies since the only one that is mentioned in this book (What's New Pussycat, which he didn't even direct), many of the most important of those during the New Hollywood era and immediately thereafter.

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- Dubi "People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-01-2008
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio