The Book: THE GOLDEN TURKEY AWARDS: Nominees and Winners -- The Worst Achievements in Hollywood History. Perigee Books, fourth printing, 1980. Book carries a remainder mark and is otherwise in good condition, with mild age-related browning and some water spotting.
First read: 1980
Owned since: 1980
A really bad movie is its own work of art. Bride of the Monster; The Conqueror; Battlefield Earth ... what distinguishes the truly bad movie from the merely mediocre is the passionate intensity and lack of irony the filmmakers bring to the project.
This book salutes those efforts Hollywood-style, with the Golden Turkey Awards in categories such as The Most Embarrasing Movie Debut of All Time (winner: Paul Newman in The Silver Chalice), The Worst Performance by a Novelist (winner: Norman Mailer in Wild 90), the Most Ludicrous Racial Impersonation in Hollywood History (Marlon Brando in Teahouse of the August Moon), and The Worst Film You Never Saw (Billy Jack Goes to Washington, pulled from distribution before it ever hit the theaters). Lifetime achievements go to Edward D. Wood, Jr. (director); Raquel Welch (actress); and Richard Burton (actor) ("In terms of wasted opportutnities, of promising projects soured through his personal efforts, no one in Hollywood can equal him.")
This book is 27 years old, and long overdue for an update. Who are the worst A-list actors of our generation? What Turkey Awards would you give anything that's come out in the last couple of decades? Leave your suggestions below.
What I Read This Week
Jonathan Coe, THE ROTTER'S CLUB. A sweeping look at three families in 1970s Birmingham, whose structure owes much to both Dickens and Joyce. Four boys of slightly different social classes attend an upper-class boys' school together, as their parents deal with union protests, economic disaster, and even an IRA bombing. Someone I know who grew up in Birmingham lent me this book, saying it was exactly the city he remembered growing up in. I started to read the sequel, The Closed Circle, but returned it to its owner earlier this week. I might pick it back up at the library sometime.
Judith Freeman, THE LONG EMBRACE: Raymond Chandler and the Woman he Loved. About a third of the way into this book, I thought, "Man, I wish I'd written this book." Freeman, a life-long Raymond Chandler fan, decides to track his mysterious wife, Cissy -- 20 years older than Chandler, whose letters had all been burned after her death -- by visiting each of the dozens of addresses the Chandlers had in Los Angeles and La Jolla. In the process, Freeman gives us a biography of Chandler, some plausible speculation about Cissy, and an objective look at Chandler's work in light of what we do know about the central relationship of his life. It's also a cultural history of Los Angeles, and it's must reading for anyone interested in the genre, the era, the place or the man.