SEARCH:  
Twitter Facebook RSS Feed
No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Monday 29th January 2007

The Devils Guide to Hollywood by Joe Eszterhas


Duckworth, £12.99, pp.397

What a minute? Do we really need another volume of autobiographical musings from Joe Eszterhas? The former Hollywood scriptwriter always promises to scandalise us with plenty of juicy gossip, but the main revelation in his two previous volumes was that he'd slept with Sharon Stone. Sure enough, if you look up Stone in the index of The Devil's Guide to Hollywood she appears on pages 39, 41, 43, 44, 47, 72, 78, 80-81, 102, 103, 104, 105, 109, 142, 145, 159, 166, 169, 172, 179, 191, 211, 220, 305-306, 310, 316, 322, 323, 325 and 327. "I'm jealous that Bill Goldman has won two Oscars and I've won none," writes Eszterhas on page 72. "But I bet Bill Goldman is jealous that I've bedded Sharon Stone."Has anyone ever got so much mileage out of a one-night stand? When it comes to kissing-and-telling, Joe Eszterhas puts Alicia Duvall to shame.

As with Clive James's multiple volumes of memoirs, Eszterhas's output is subject to the law of diminishing returns. It's not as if he left anything out of the two other books. We already know that Basic Instinct was the box office champ of 1992, that he was paid $4 million for a four-page outline of One Night Stand and that his movies have grossed over $1 billion worldwide since he told us this in Hollywood Animal (2004). He claims to be a reformed alcoholic, but his prose has a very drunken feel to it. It's bombastic and overbearing, full of self-aggrandising stories that don't ring true. ("I left a gigantic dent in the William Morris Agency's conference table by smashing it with my African Dogon walking stick.") Above all, it's repetitive. Reading his books is like being cornered by an aggressive drunk in a bar.

The Devil's Guide to Hollywood differs from his previous books in two main ways: it purports to be a how-to guide for wannabe screenwriters and it contains almost no extended passages of prose. Rather, it is composed almost entirely of little stand-alone gobbets-- anecdotes, observations, old Hollywood lore and, inevitably, stories revealing just how close Eszterhas is to an endless parade of celebrities. "I've never been nominated for an Oscar," he writes on page 114, "but Jon Bon Jovi asked me to fly to Budapest, Hungary, with him and introduce the band onstage in the Hungarian language." (He's clearly rankled by the fact that he's never won an Oscar.)

To give the devil his due, this book isn't entirely worthless. It's brimming with great quotations, such as this one from Paddy Chayefsky's Oscar acceptance speech for Network: "I would like to suggest to Miss Vanessa Redgrave that her winning an Academy Award is not a pivotal moment in history, does not require a proclamation, and a simple 'Thank you' would have sufficed." However, nearly all of these gems will be familiar to anyone acquainted with the history of Hollywood--and they were almost certainly compiled by some unacknowledged researcher rather than Eszterhas. The best that can be said of The Devil's Guide to Hollywood is that it's a useful compendium of titbits and factoids about screenwriters.

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that Joe Eszterhas is such a shameless recycler when it comes to his books since he was guilty of the same sin in his movies. In a typical Eszterhas script, an innocent young naïf discovers that the gorgeous lover who has just rocked his or her world has a hidden past that usually involves the mysterious disappearance of their previous sexual partner. This, in essence, was the plot of Jagged Edge, Betrayed, Basic Instinct, Sliver, Showgirls and Jade. Invariably, at some point in this scenario, one of the characters says: "You like to play games, don't you?" Is it any surprise that Eszterhas has never won an Oscar?

The Evening Standard

[ FIXED LINK ] Bookmark and Share





Twitter RT @Jamin2g: Corbyn: “When we celebrate, and it is a cause for celebration, the achievements of Venezuela, in jobs, in housing, in health,…  (37 minutes ago)

BEST OF THE WEB

Is classical liberalism conservative? by Yarom Hazony - jerusalemletters.com
The Implosion of Western Liberalism by Patrick Lee Miller - quillette.com
The Eton of the East End - Daily Mail
The reactionary temptation by Andrew Sullivan - nymag.com
The book that scandalised New York intellectuals by Louis Menand - newyorker.com
To understand Britain today, look to the 17th Century by Adrian Wooldridge - economist.com
The crisis in France by Christopher Caldwell - city-journal.org
A Visit to Michaela School by Patrick Alexander - prospectmagazine.co.uk
Why parenting may not matter by Brian Boutwell - quillette.com
Trump Establishment's Cultural Significance Explained by Michael Wolff - newsweek.com
Branching histories of the 2016 referendum by Dominic Cummings - dominiccummings.wordpress.com
Putin's Real Long Game by Molly K McKew - politico.com
The Flight 93 Election by Publius Decius Mus - claremont.org
How the education gap is tearing politics apart by David Runciman - theguardian.com
What's wrong with identity politics by Graeme Archer - conservativehome.com
Grammars and the grain of truth by Jonathan Porter
Anti-Brexit: Britain's new class war by John O'Sullivan - nationalreview.com
The English Revolt by Robert Tombs - newstatesman.com
Democracies end when they are too democratic by Andrew Sullivan - nymag.com
Human beings really are making progress by Steven Pinker - edge.org
What ISIS really wants by Graeme Wood - theatlantic.com
A society ripe for Submission by Douglas Murray - quadrant.org.au
Beware the soft Stalinists of the campus by David Aaronovitch - thetimes.co.uk
Why I'm a Conservative Teacher by Jonathan Porter - conservativeteachers.com
Corbyn's Inconvenient Truth – He wanted the IRA to win - youtu.be
Corbyn's first seven days - theguardian.com
Corbin's cabinet chaos by Darren McCaffrey - news.sky.com
Why I've become Tory scum by Tony Parsons - gq-magazine.co.uk
Inside Westminster's free school - telegraph.co.uk
Jeremy Corbyn's politics are a fantasy – just like Alice in Wonderland by Tony Blair - theguardian.com
Robert Conquest obit - telegraph.co.uk
Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite – it's so much worse than that - news.stv.tv
In defence of free schools by Toby Young - standpointmag.co.uk
 

BLOGROLL

Andrew Lilico
Andrew Neil
Andrew Sullivan
Arts and Letters Daily
Bagehot's Notebook
BBC News
BBC Sport
Benedict Brogan
Brendan O'Neill
Bruce Anderson
Coffee House
Conservative Home
Damian McBride
Damian Thompson
Dan Hodges
Daniel Hannon
Ed West
Frank Furedi
Guido Fawkes
Harry Phibbs
Iain Dale
Iain Martin
James Delingpole
James Wolcott
Joe Murphy
John Rentoul
Labour List
Mark Steyn
Matt Drudge
Mehdi Hasan
Melanie Phillips
Michael Wolff
Nick Cohen
Nick Robinson
Nikki Finke
Normblog
Paul Waugh
Peter Hitchens
Political Betting
Right Minds
Rob Long
Rod Liddle
Slate
Sophy Ridge
Stephen Pollard
The Arts Desk
The Corner
The Daily Beast
The First Post
The Omnivore
The Onion
Tim Shipman
Tim Stanley
Tom Shone
 

COLUMNISTS

AA Gill
Aidan Hartley
Allison Pearson
Allister Heath
AO Scott
Boris Johnson
Charles Moore
Cosmo Landesman
Daniel Finkelstein
David Brooks
Fraser Nelson
George Monbiot
Giles Coren
Henry Winter
James Delingpole
Jan Moir
Janan Ganesh
Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Warner
Jim White
Jonathan Freedland
Lloyd Evans
Manohla Dargis
Martin Samuel
Mary Ann Sieghart
Matthew d'Ancona
Matthew Norman
Maureen Dowd
Michiko Kakutani
Owen Jones
Patrick O'Flynn
Paul Krugman
Peter Bradshaw
Peter Oborne
Philip Collins
Polly Toynbee
Quentin Letts
Rachel Johnson
Rod Liddle
Roy Greenslade
Tim Montgomerie
Trevor Kavanagh
 
UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the book on Amazon.com


  • UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the book on Amazon.com


  • Audio Book Cover

  • Buy the audio book from
    Whole Story Audio
  • DVD Cover

  • Buy the DVD from Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the DVD from Amazon.com


  • IMdb Page on the film