Over the decades, the rebel-hero of Bonnie and Clyde , producer and star of Shampoo and Heaven Can Wait, has shunned would-be biographers. Oddly, Biskind seems to have decided to ignore, or at best only hint at, a troubled family background, while barely touching on the relationship between his subject and his famous older sister, Shirley MacLaine.
The career details are an expansion of what will already be familiar to readers of Easy Riders and, to be fair to Fields, they are somewhat tedious , but it is the libido that is the throbbing pulse of the narrative.
In the opening chapter, Biskind tells us that Beatty made love to Joan Collins relentlessly, accepting calls while inside her; that he was not prey to premature ejaculation and that he would give women multiple orgasms before thinking of himself. Fuelled with vitamins as well as being something of an amateur medic and psychiatrist, Beatty was, Biskind continues, a possessive sexual partner as his many lovers, including Leslie Caron, Julie Christie, Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and Papas and Diane Keaton were to find out.
She ran rings around her fifty-ish lover, taunting him about his age and refusing to succumb to his lust for control. He insisted on take after take in the pursuit of some elusive screen moment; he fought with his co-stars, his production team and financiers; occasionally he was responsible for a work of genius.
He also saw himself as a political mover, disastrously backing firstly George McGovern and then Gary Hart. In , the proposal, emanating from conservative-turned-Democrat, Arianna Huffington that Beatty run for president was apparently given serious consideration. In the end, Beatty saw out recent years cold-shouldered by Hollywood and best known for his new-found domesticity in the arms of Annette Bening and their four children. Poetic justice, some might say.
Ruth Barton is a lecturer in film studies at Trinity College Dublin. Anti-immigrant and anti-Traveller claims need to be challenged robustly if this country is to avoid the virus that has infected so many other countries. Please update your billing details here to continue enjoying your access to the most informative and considered journalism in the UK.
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Star: The Life and Wild Times of Warren Beatty
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Warren Beatty: Brilliant man-god struck down by his own lightning
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