cover image Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America

Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America

Peter Biskind, . . Simon & Schuster, $30 (627pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-4658-3

In his refreshing biography, Biskind (Easy Riders, Raging Bulls ) examines Beatty's dual—and often dueling—status as Hollywood legend and notorious womanizer without letting either subsume the other. Beatty's film career began with a starring role in director Elia Kazan's Splendor in the Grass opposite Natalie Wood, the first of his co-stars with whom he had relationships (the list includes Leslie Caron, Julie Christie, Diane Keaton, and Annette Bening, whom he married). As producer and star of 1967's Bonnie and Clyde , Beatty inhabited the brief and violent life of the titular bank robber in a film Pauline Kael called “the most exciting American movie since The Manchurian Candidate .” From 1971's McCabe & Mrs. Miller , now considered one of the finest westerns of all time, to his Oscar-winning turn as director in 1981's Reds (which he both produced and starred in), Beatty had a hand in some of New Hollywood's most important films. But Biskind does not gloss over the fact that Beatty has not had a box office hit since 1990's Dick Tracy , nor does he ignore the string of flops that have deflated the actor's career (Ishtar , Bugsy , Love Affair , etc.). Yet his respect for Beatty never dwindles, and readers are left with a complicated portrait of a complicated man, arguably a great actor of his generation. (Jan. 5)