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Hellraisers The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, and Oliver Reed

Updated on September 20, 2010

They don't make them like they use to, what am I on about, stars, iconic actors, larger than life performers. That is something you will probably feel after your read about the exploits of acting legends Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, and Oliver Reed in Roberts Sellers "Hellraisers The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, and Oliver Reed". Reading about what a drunken Oliver Reed or an inebriated Peter O'Toole got up to back in the day makes the current crop of popular actors sound like choir boys rather than supposedly big stars.

Technically "Hellraisers The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, and Oliver Reed" is a biography of these 4 titans of stage and screen, chronologically giving us details of their lives growing up through to, in the cases of Richard Burton, Richard Harris and Oliver Reed, their final days as Peter O'Toole is the proverbial "Last Man Standing". As is the case with Sellers later book "Hollywood Hellraisers: The Wild Lives and Fast Times of Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson", the lives of these men are told in segments which interweave and overlap as their careers and social paths crossed. But to be frank it's not an in-depth biography, it doesn't go into great detail about their childhood or personal loves, although it does go into more detail when it came to their turbulent relationships and various womanizing ways.

Quite strangely for a book which covers the lives and careers of 4 great actors it's surprisingly skimpy when it comes to the various movies which they appeared in. It goes through many of these stars movies giving you a balance of some of the great movies which they appeared in and some of the complete turkeys but the detail about each one is lacking. As such "Hellraisers The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, and Oliver Reed" struggles to get across how brilliant these actors were, how mesmerising a performance was from them and why despite being notorious for their social exploits were constantly in demand. Though what is nice is that several co-stars chip in with an anecdote or two about the time spent with these great actors, more often or not ending up with a visit to a pub and a mammoth drinking session.

And that is really what "Hellraisers The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, and Oliver Reed" ends up, a book of fabulous anecdotes about the inebriated exploits of these actors. In a way it's frightening when you read not only about the excessive drinking which could end up in days of inebriated oblivion but also the mischief which usually occurred after. And as such there are some wonderful nostalgic anecdotes such as the one where a bladdered Oliver Reed appeared on the Michael Parkinson chat show.

What is sad is not so much that author Robert Sellers enjoys regaling us with all these anecdotes but that you never really understand how great these stars were and how even greater they could have been if they didn't end up hitting the bottle to excess. You look at Richard Burton one of Britain's greatest actors yet his movie career consisted of more bad movies than good and you get a sense that if he hadn't been such a great lover of drink maybe his movie career would have been even greater. And the same can be said for Richard Harris and Oliver Reed although O'Toole has seemed to have made more good movies than bad.

What this all means is that if you were to read "Hellraisers The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, and Oliver Reed" expecting a look at the lives and careers of these iconic actors you will probably end up disappointed by the lack of detail. But if you enjoy reading anecdotes about how acting legends behaved and more often than not misbehaved then this will be right up your street. No matter which one thing does come across from reading "Hellraisers The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, and Oliver Reed" and that is the stars of today are nothing like the stars of the past.


Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1 edition (December 8, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN: 0312553994

About Me

Andy Webb writes movies reviews covering anything from the classics through to modern. To read reviews by Andy Webb at The Movie Scene.


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