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The life of Hollywood’s number one movie actor, the elusive Robert De Niro, who shuns the limelight and rarely gives interviews, written by the leading film critic and biographer of Spielberg, Kubrick, Woody Allen and George Lucas.
Robert De Niro is the pre-eminent Hollywood character performer of our time: film portraits like the young Don Vito Corleone in THE GODFATHER II, Jake La Motta in RAGING BULL and Travis Bickle in TAXI DRIVER are some of the most vivid ever put on celluloid. De Niro cannot be cast to type, prefers to work for old friends like Martin Scorsese, and (apart from FRANKENSTEIN) has never played anything but 20th-century roles.
John Baxter calls him ‘the archetypal empty bottle which only becomes visible when it’s filled by a role’: which makes him such a tempting subject for one of Hollywood’s finest historian/biographers.
As well as his film roles, Baxter examines De Niro’s often controversial private life, his collaborations with directors like Martin Scorsese and performers like Harvey Keitel and Meryl Streep, and his increasingly ambitious off-screen activities.
‘Amusing and eminently readable’ Empire
‘Not recommended for the faint-hearted’ Sunday Telegraph
‘Excellent. Baxter’s analysis of De Niro as an actor is fascinating’ Julie Evans, Manchester Evening News
‘Baxter is fascinating on the making of De Niro’s great movies’ Sunday Tribune (Dublin)
‘Informative and highly readable’ Allan Hunter, Herald (Glasgow)
About the author
John Baxter is a film critic, novelist, biographer and broadcaster, whose books include The Hollywood Exiles, The Cinema of Josef von Sternberg, The Cinema of John Ford, and biographies of Ken Russell, Fellini, Buñuel, Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick, Woody Allen and George Lucas. Born and brought up in Australia, he has worked in London, taught in the United States, and now lives in Paris.
According to prolific film biographer Baxter (The Hollywood Exiles, etc.), "Rage is Robert De Niro's gift to the cinema." In this unauthorized, carefully researched biography, Baxter traces the enigmatic actor's life, starting with his formative years in Greenwich Village, where De Niro tagged along with Italian street gangs and had a complicated relationship with his gay artist father, a fact that Baxter suggests has greatly informed the actor's choice of morally conflicted characters. Using numerous interviews and anecdotes, Baxter sketches a picture that is never quite flattering, but is empathetic and fascinating. He tells De Niro's story through the prism of the actor's most notable cinematic endeavors (including Taxi Driver and Raging Bull) as well as through his biggest failures. As a result, the book is equal parts life story and film analysis. This works to great effect, since De Niro's artistic choices, many of which involved physical transformations and psychological sparring with his fellow actors, reveal as much, if not more, about his own character as any exposition on the actor's life experience. As Baxter portrays him, De Niro appears more comfortable being anyone other than himself. His total immersion into characters such as Travis Bickle spooked his co-stars but won him great acclaim, despite what the author describes as a career decline that began with The King of Comedy. In subsequent years, Baxter notes, De Niro has rested on his reputation, choosing mediocre but commercially viable projects that would, in turn, fund his entrepreneurial pursuits in his beloved lower Manhattan neighborhood. De Niro remains one of cinema's most enduring presences, a human puzzle, perhaps even unto himself. 40 b/w photos.