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Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  6,992 ratings  ·  480 reviews
This down-and-dirty romp through Hollywood in the 1970s introduces the young filmmakers--Coppola, Scorsese, Lucas, Spielberg, Altman, and Beatty--and recreates an era that transformed American culture forever.
Paperback, 512 pages
Published April 4th 1999 by Simon Schuster (first published September 27th 1998)
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 ·  6,992 ratings  ·  480 reviews

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Joe Valdez
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, film-tv
However 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 m ...more
Oct 23, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone wondering what it was like when Hollywood made good movies
Shelves: hollyrock
This book is alternately fabulous and frustrating. In the fabulous column, Biskind is to be commended for his incredibly thorough research. How he got an interview with producer Bert Schneider is beyond my comprehension -- the guy is a total recluse, and one of the most fascinating figures in Hollywood history. I love the way he puts across the story-telling abilities of his interviewees...instead of distilling the information in cold, analytical prose, he lets everybody from Bruce Dern to Warre ...more
Jason Coleman
Apr 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: greatest-hits
The upshot of this book's negative reviews seems to be that it is too full of gossip. I'm trying to imagine someone who buys a book about the film industry and is surprised, much less disappointed, by encountering gossip.

According to Biskind, the great party house in the early '70s was the little A-frame Margot Kidder and Jennifer Salt rented for $400 a month on Nicholas Beach near Malibu. Nowadays Kidder says that Biskind exaggerated its debauchery, that it was really a pretty mellow scene. I f
Maybe some day I'll come back to this and write the sumptuous review it deserves. However, right now, I feel a bit like Chinatown screenwriter Robert Towne after he'd written the script for Hal Ashby's and Warren Beatty's Shampoo: I've hit the old writer's-block wall. I took a ton of notes on this, because it had so many good insights and quotes, but it's just not gelling. So rather than go into the ample details of this sweeping and awesome chronicle of 1970s Hollywood, let me simply recommend ...more
"Directors don’t have much power anymore, the executives make unheard of amounts of money, and budgets are more out of control than they ever were. And there hasn’t been a classic in ten years."
- Francis Ford Coppola

After Bonnie and Clyde opened, Stefan Kanfer defined the New Hollywood in the most perfect way: "disregard for time-honored pieties of plot, chronology, and motivation; a promiscuous jumbling together of comedy and tragedy; ditto heroes and villains; sexual boldness; and a new, iron
A.J. Howard
My thoughts on Easy Riders, Raging Bulls can be summarized by two comparisons:

1. Game Change: Both books let gossip get in the way of solid storytelling. Game Change would give paragraphs of great accounts of political strategy (which is right in my wheelhouse) then get sidetracked with anecdotes of how Elizabeth Edwards is a bitch, John Edwards is a dandy, and what Hilary Clinton wore at a particular campaign event. Not all of it was completely useless, and some of it was quite fun, but it chea
Mar 17, 2012 rated it did not like it
The book had the potential to be awesome and interesting and really informative. A lot of amazing movies were made in the 1970's. A lot of interesting things happened in Hollywood as to how movies were made, and the balances of power. Picking up this book, that is what it alludes to be about. It will talk about the New Hollywood directors - Scorsese, Lucas, Spielberg, Coppola, etc etc, and what they did to movies, how they challenged the studio system, how they made some of their most famous mov ...more
Mar 09, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction, film, 2013
Biskind's book disappointed me tremendously. The author dwelled on bad behavior instead of providing key insights into film making. It lacked social and historical context (just passing mentions of Vietnam and the Manson killings, etc.), despite the fact that the author must have done a tremendous amount of research. Granted, a good portion of the players here are not admirable on a personal level, and some may even be irredeemable … but the book never demonstrated, for me, a respect for the art ...more
Thor Garcia
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the more curious quotes in Easy Riders, Raging Bulls comes from Terry Southern, the principal screenwriter of Easy Rider: “In my mind, the ending (of Easy Rider) was to be an indictment of blue-collar America, the people I thought were responsible for the Vietnam War.”*

O.K.—hold on. That’s a nutty thing to say, Terry. It wasn’t “blue-collar America” that was running the military-industrial Cold War economy, conspiring to invade and destroy Vietnam and injure Americans in body and soul.

Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It stunned me to realise that it’s over twenty years since this was published. I have the original hardback, which means it’s over twenty years since I read it. That makes me feel old. As if I should already be staggering around the garden, entertaining grandchildren with pieces of orange in my mouth.

This charge through the world of New Hollywood of the 1970s remains a compulsive read. Starting with bad behaviour on the set of EASY RIDER (well, actually a bit before that, with the suggestion tha
Casts a wide enough net to get a general sense of the era but it's a house of cards built on a lot of he said she said. Hard to take anything at face value. The main thing that sticks with me is that Biskind spends a lot of time setting this era as some grand tragedy that these talented directors and writers and producers were too self-involved and self-destructive to take down the Hollywood establishment. Then within the last five pages he asks himself: "Could another group of directors have do ...more
Sep 27, 2009 rated it liked it
Peter Biskind is a yenta! The book is hefty with gossip of all kinds, which is too bad because he's talking about the revolution in films in the 60's to early 80's. When he does talk about how the movies changed, both in cinematography, plot development, in every way, Biskind is insightful and intelligent, but he doesn't dwell on such matters for very long.

Worse, you're reading along about one topic and suddenly there is a paragraph about another time or other people which you may vaguely recall
Jul 27, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: film-and-tv
Unfortunately this is less of the untold story of the birth of the Auteur directors of 70's (you know the ones...Coppola, Scorsese, DE Palma, ect.) and more a gossipy, vindictive, and mean spirited expose of how terrible all those people where at all times...the whole book seems petty and dishonest. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I believe that these people are saints that should be above all criticism, it's that the writing and the editing of this book is so focused on telling you how drug a ...more
Stephen McQuiggan
Nov 29, 2018 rated it liked it
A handful of mavericks dream of breaking the studios' stranglehold, of making Art that will be screened across the world, but they are beguiled by mountains of cash and their own megalomania and by the time Star Wars hits, they're finished. Roll credits.
It's hard to warm to anyone in this book - the hubris of Coppola, the wife-beating Hopper, Lucas the nerdy bore, Scorsese the paranoid brat, or Spielberg the money-grabbing sellout. You'd think such decadence would be an interesting read but for
Spencer Rich
Jun 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Sort of an overrated genre, but it was interesting reading about Rafelson and Schneider. Also, plenty of good anecdotes about the interactions of all the others in the New Hollywood. Could have gone into more detail about Beatty and Fonda. It didn't even mention Lilith, for example. ...more
Jun 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: popular-culture
I always wonder how this book ever got published, because I don't think there's anything good in it about any of the directors and actors highlighted therein. Not Coppola, not Bogdanovich, not Ashby or Lucas or Spielberg or Scorse. To a man, they are portrayed as selfish, ruthless, megalomaniacal, self-destructive. I almost wonder just how accurate this book - surely they can't all be this nuts?

Leaving aside the salacious details, and boy, are there some, this is a quite fascinating look at how
May 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: cineaphiles
Fantastic portrait of the best dozen years of American film and the insane circumstances that created them. Essential reading for any aspiring film dork. One part cultural anthropology, one part film criticism, one part gossip rag. Sample Dennis Hopper shenanigans (in the early 80s):

"Still convinced the mob was on his tail, he pulled a 'geographic,' ending up in L.A. shooting coke and heroin, and then on to Mexico, where he had an acting gig. Suffering from DTs and hallucinations, he stripped of
Nicolò Grasso
An incredible book from beginning to end. Peter Biskind turns what could have been a didactic and academic look at cinema of the 1970s into a terrific work of non-fiction that reads like a novel. You get to know all the key players of the era, how that decade had so many great classics, and how everything and everyone was doomed to fail if they didn't embrace the mainstream. It demystifies many of these figures, humanizing actors, directors, and producers in a way that is funny, enlightening, di ...more
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’m a messy bitch who LIVES for drama and movies. This book delivers on all fronts.
Christopher Saunders
Raucous, kaleidoscopic portrait of New Hollywood in the ‘70s, when a fresh generation of ambitious young directors obliterated the studio system. Biskind’s narrative is familiar to any film buff: in his telling, the young auteurs (Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich, Martin Scorsese, Bob Rafelson, Robert Altman etc.) that took over Hollywood were heroes, eschewing conventional tastes, embracing artistic techniques more commonly found in European art cinema than Hollywood programmers and foll ...more
H.J. Moat
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
To my shame, I am a great lover of celebrity gossip. This book allowed me to indulge in that passion whilst still retaining literary respectability on the bus. Basically it's several hundred pages of celebrity gossip from the late Sixties to the mid Eighties in the context of how it shaped the New Hollywood movement in the film industry. The New Hollywood movement being when directors and writers like Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader started making 'difficult' films, films ...more
John Maxim
Jan 26, 2017 rated it liked it
There are some really amazing stories of some of the best films made in the seventies and the people that made them. Of course I expected sex and drugs to be a big part of the book, its on the cover. And if everything in this book is to be believed then filmmakers are some of the worst people there are and they are all lucky to have lived past the age of 40. They are extremely lucky AIDS wasn't much of a thing until the 80's. But I honestly got a little bored with the sex/drugs/gossip TMZ-of-the ...more
Jul 19, 2012 rated it liked it
An interesting read, however it was different book than I was expecting. It has been a few years since I have read "Down & Dirty Pictures," by Biskind, and forgot about my gripes with that book, which is really all my fault.

The worst parts of the book read like TMZ from the seventies, in which you find out who banged who, who did what drug, and why this person is an asshole. I understand the fascination of that, but I was hoping to read more about the actual films that were created. When this oc
Jake Angermeier
Mar 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jake by: Adam, sort of.
I stole this from a buddies bookshelf for a read on a plane ride back home. I think it might be a college textbook, but I'm not all that sure. Ir-regardless, it is an excellent account of the film industry revolution during the 60's and 70's. It focuses more on the directors and not the actors, which is good because most of the decent directors of that time were completely out of their minds. I find that I use this book ( yeah, I kept it) as a source of reference up to several times a week and h ...more
Hunter Duesing
Jul 09, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
While it's a damn entertaining read, Biskind gets some of his facts wrong, making most of this book suspect as a work chronicling the history of the generation of movie brats that revolutionized Hollywood in the late sixties through the early eighties. Biskind also gets lost reporting lurid details of decadence among the Hollywood hippies during this time, which have a sleazy appeal but ultimately adds up to dated gossip. However, I do appreciate how Biskind refuses to coddle and praise this gen ...more
James Perkins
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most movie books are about the actors we see on-screen; this one paints a detailed picture of the up-and-coming directors from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s. Some of those who survived and are still around to reminisce on those heady, druggy days include Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now), Steven Spielberg (Jaws), George Lucas (Star Wars), Martin Scorsese (Raging Bull), William Friedkin (The Exorcist), Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show), and Warren Beatty (Bonnie and Clyde). This tom ...more
Aug 15, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in 70's cinema/gossip
This book was poorly written, to say the least. It pretty much read like a teen scream gossip rag. Biskind doesn't even feel obligated to use complete sentences. I felt guilty reading it, like I was investing too much time in something not worthy of it. That being said, I was pretty into the book otherwise. I learned a lot of really fascinating gossip about some of my favorite American directors and the Dennis Hopper stories were off the hook. Overall, I'm glad I read all 430 pages of this. ...more
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cinema
This is not a book about filmmaking. It's about culture, society, and everyday life in one of the wildest times in the modern history of the U.S. and its representation in cinema.

Biskind showing us the end of the Holly wood studio system and the beginning of the period that will be named as New Hollywood. He pictures the life of the main players in the 70-s cinema. Mostly he writes about film directors because it was a short time when they played the most significant role in Hollywood cinema an
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
You can say Peter Biskind is being a jerk to the generation of filmmakers who revolutionized Hollywood in the 1970s with this gossipy, mean yet thorough retelling of the rise and crash of "The New Hollywood" or you could argue that this group of boy geniuses pretty much got what they deserved as a group of young artists given too much too fast who lost it and ruined others in the process through their own greed and arrogance. Doesn't mean it couldn't have been a better book (there are times when ...more
Luis Paez
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you're a filmmaker, I highly recommend this book, Interesting and entertaining look at directors and producers from the 70's like Francis Ford Coppola, Denis Hopper, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Warren Beatty and many more. Goes through the transition of directors before and what they've become. Taking you through classic pictures and how they were made. ...more
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Peter Biskind is a cultural critic and film historian. He was the editor-in-chief of American Film magazine from 1981 to 1986, and the executive editor of Premiere from 1986 to 1996. His writing has appeared in scores of national publications, including Rolling Stone, Paris Match, the Nation, The New York Times, the Times of London, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as film journals such as Sight ...more

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