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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Infamous Players: A Tale of Movies, the Mob (and Sex)

When Peter Bart was a young reporter in Los Angeles for the New York Times he met a young executive at Paramount Pictures called Robert Evans.  To his surprise, Evans chose Bart to help him turn the struggling studio around and swept him into the wild and decadent world of the Hollywood of the late sixties and early seventies. Infamous Players is the story of these crazy, but inspiring years.

Bart and Evans had a tough time getting their ideas past the manic boss, Charlie Bluhdorn.  Obsessed by old musicals, he wanted to make hopeless films like Paint Your Wagon.  Bart tells amusing anecdotes about the making of this movie which starred a drunken Lee Marvin and the young Clint Eastwood, who couldn’t sing.
Soon Bart became more successful and he tells the stories behind films, such as Love Story and The Godfather.  He reveals the tale of Evans and Ali McGraw’s marriage and how it was difficult to part Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie during a steamy scene during the filming of Don’t Look Now.

He also analyses the characters of stars like Robert Redford and Steve McQueen.  He relates details of some of their early movies and McGraw's romance with McQueen, as well as telling how the directors, Coppola and Roman Polanski began their careers.

Apparently the Hollywood of this time was filled with drugs and riotous parties with lots of women.  Bart, to his credit, came through all this unscathed.  However, investments by the Mafia in Hollywood seemed to be almost the least of its problems as the constant partying and the ravage of drugs led many to self-destruction.
This was an interesting book but I was disappointed with the quality of the writing.  The narrative was extremely disjointed and the actual writing was rather pedestrian.  It was difficult to read when I almost reached the end. I felt at times that Bart was bored with it and just wanted to finish the book.  This was surprising because he was a leading journalist.  However, I’d still be willing to try his other books to see if they’re any better.

Peter Bart discussing The Godfather

Pictures of Peter Bart 

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