Item description for Hollywood's Hellfire Club: The Misadventures of John Barrymore, W.C. Fields, Errol Flynn and the Bundy Drive Boys by Gregory William Mank, Charles Heard & Bill Nelson...
They made fans go crazy and censors apoplectic, spent fortunes faster than they made them, forged Rembrandts and hung them in major museums, went on trial for committing statutory rape with necrophiliac teenage girls, reinterpreted Hamlet as an incestuous mama's boy,and swilled immeasurable quantities of spirits during week-long parties on wobbly yachts.
They were "The Bundy Drive Boys," and they made the Rat Pack look like Cub Scouts.
Their self-destructiveness was spectacular, the misanthropy profound, but behind the boozy bravado was a devoted mutual affection. The Bundy Drive Boys' un-bowdlerized stories have never been illustrated so well or told so completely as within Hollywood's Hellfire Club.
Author Gregory William Mank also wrote It's Alive!: The Classic Cinema Saga of Frankenstein and Hollywood Cauldron.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1" Width: 6" Height: 9" Weight: 1.32 lbs.
Release Date Oct 1, 2007
Publisher Feral House
ISBN 1932595244 ISBN13 9781932595246
Availability 0 units.
More About Gregory William Mank, Charles Heard & Bill Nelson
Greg Mank is the author of several well-regarded film history books, including "It's Alive! The Classic Cinema Saga of Frankenstein" and "Karloff and Lugosi: A Haunting Collaboration," as well as many magazine features and DVD commentaries.
Reviews - What do customers think about Hollywood's Hellfire Club: The Misadventures of John Barrymore, W.C. Fields, Errol Flynn and the Bundy Drive Boys?
Ditto! Jul 5, 2008
I can add little to the other reviews except for my enthusiastic recommendation of this book! Mank, one of the best film historians on the beat, liberally mixes careful scholarship with the zest of good storytelling. This makes for part one of a great double-feature if you follow it with Shawn Levy's dynamite RAT PACK CONFIDENTIAL. Ah, for the good old days... when bad behavior had panache! Great read! As another has noted, it's hard not to tear through in a single sitting.
100 Proof Hollywood Mar 23, 2008
There are only two ways you can look at the lives of these legendary "bad boy" actors and comedians. First is head-on, which this book offers in abundance. And second, philosophically, as suggested by one of the most poignant passages in the book, "They all saw the joke of life, and they teach us not to be scared. There is no bogeyman. Get the essence of love and happiness and joy, and share it with people. All that matters is to leave a legacy of happiness, and to give someone else an inspiration--like they gave us." (Rita Saiz, clairvoyant?)
John Barrymore, W.C. Fields, Errol Flynn, and John Decker were among the most talented individuals of their day, and seemingly, among the most tragic, each drowning his pain in alcohol and prematurely snuffing-out their abilities and lives. But they did so in good company: John Carradine, Alan Mowbray, Ben Hecht, and Thomas Mitchell, to name a few. And best of all, there was Gene Fowler, the writer whom they trusted to keep the record straight. And worst of all, there was Sadakichi Hartmann, a pre-counter-culture beatnik/hippie who seemed to be consumed by his worst impulses, and was kept afloat by Barrymore.
But to concentrate on the tragic is to lose sight of the legacy that includes Barrymore's "Svengali" and "Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde," Fields's trenchant satires of American family life, and the transcendent magic of Flynn's swashbuckling heroes. Authors Mank, Heard, and Nelson offer no apologies for these artists, nor do they cast judgement. This is a book that is both repulsive and yet mesmerizing. In the end, we are left not so much mourning the shortened careers of these men, but marveling that their genius allowed them to perform a weird alchemy that transformed so much personal squalor into artistic brilliance.
This is High-Gothic Hollywood storytelling, and maybe it's about time.
Fun and fascinating - Nov 19, 2007
I was a bit nervous when I ordered "Hollywood's Hellfire Club" by Gregory Mank, Charles Heard and Bill Nelson.
I love old Hollywood and the stars of its golden age and although I was not looking for a whitewash of their lives, I was worried it might be a book that just trashed them. And yes, the book shows their lives warts and all, but it was clearly written by people who love these guys and the period of Hollywood they lived in.
The interwoven stories of these friends has the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, but all told in an engrossing way that really wraps you up in the tale. I was familiar with W.C. Fields, Errol Flynn, John Carradine, John Barrymore, Ben Hecht and Gene Fowler but I did not know much about John Decker and Sadakichi Hartmann but reading about their exploits and insanity was funny and fascinating (W.C. Fields as Queen Victoria? And who in their right mind would ever think of a perfume concert?!?)
The book is a very enjoyable read, it grabs you with each persons story and pulls the group together as it tells the tale. Organized by decades, the book is lavishly illustrated and although most of the cast of characters had a lot of sadness in their lives, the book does not get morbid, it more looks at the absurdity and fun these people brought each other, and through their work they brought each of us.
These guys personified perfection in their chosen fields, were perfectly decadent in their private lives and the way "Hollywood's Hellfire Club" is presented makes for a perfectly fascinating story.
Hell bent for destruction Nov 14, 2007
Greg Mank has left the haunted mansion of golden age horror film critiques and heads into Hollywood Babylon territory with his newest book; and what he finds would have Kenneth Anger gasping for breath. Mank, with his coauthors Charles Heard and Bill Nelson, tells the tale of the Bundy Drive Boys, a collective of fast living and hard drinking Hollywood actors, writers and artists--- all committed to their friendship and the right to destroy their careers, their families and themselves by any means necessary. Among the hell-raisers are John Barrymore, W.C. Fields, Errol Flynn, John Decker, William Fowler, John Carradine, Ben Hecht and Sadakichi Hartmann; and their stories of childhood tragedy, incest, rape, cannibalism (in a POW camp), drunken brawls, sexual conquests, and even an art forgery scam, will have your jaw hitting the floor.
I read HOLLYWOOD HELLFIRE CLUB in one sitting. My morbid curiosity (wondering just how much worse can things get for the Bundy Drive boys) simply would not let me put this book down. If you are a fan of Hollywood's Golden Age... or the last person to leave the scene of a train wreck, this book will surely entertain and/or horrify you!