Item description for Donald Cammell: A Life on the Wild Side by Rebecca Umland...
This is the first ever book about the extraordinary life of Donald Cammell (1934-1996), a man whose life is believed by many to be one of the most decadent of the 20th Century. The first film he directed, Performance has been called one of the Great Books of Decadence. The classic British film Performance, starring Mick Jagger and James Fox, established Donald Cammell as one of the great talents of British cinema. Although Performance immediately launched Cammell into the international limelight, his career after Performance proved elusive. He completed only three more feature films before his death by suicide in 1996. Yet it was this elusiveness that elevated Cammell to mythic proportions. Performance's innovative approach and provocative subject matter brought a new sensibility to the modern cinema and inspired a generation of young filmmakers including Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill), Steven Soderbergh (sex, lies, and videotape) Roger Avary (Killing Zoe), and Todd Haynes (Velvet Goldmine). Yet Cammell's other films, Demon Seed, White of the Eye, and Wild Side, are thoroughly compelling and reveal other aspects of the complex, enigmatic artist responsible for Performance. Illustrated with rare stills and previously unpublished personal photographs, Donald Cammell: A Life on the Wild Side is the first biography of the legendary filmmaker and the first to discuss all of his creative work, including his early career as a portrait painter, the completed films, the many unrealized and uncompleted projects, and unpublished screenplays. Comprised of dozens of interviews and many years of extensive research, Donald Cammell: A Life on the Wild Side sheds startling new light on one of Great Britain's most important filmmakers.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.84" Width: 7.24" Height: 1.18" Weight: 2.16 lbs.
Release Date Jun 30, 2006
Publisher FAB Press
ISBN 1903254280 ISBN13 9781903254288
Availability 0 units.
More About Rebecca Umland
REBECCA A. UMLAND is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. She holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Iowa and has published widely on Arthurian literature.
Reviews - What do customers think about Donald Cammell: A Life on the Wild Side?
Needle through the Cammell's Eye Jan 28, 2008
Donald Cammell has intrigued me for many years, since first I read the item in VARIETY that told us that the British born writer/director who had helped to make PERFORMANCE was next going to be making ISHTAR with Dominique Sanda, Marlon Brando and William Burroughs. When ISHTAR failed to materialize that was the beginning of many years of Hollywood hardship for the increasingly difficult and willful Cammell, and the Uhlands spell it all out in a long slow drop to the very bottom of show business.
His background is interesting, but I felt that the art work done by Cammell in the 1950s is on a generally far lower level than his biographers credit it with. It's an illustration style in which someone like Frank Frazetta excelled, but Cammell seems ashamed of his gestural style, as though he were slumming and that might work for some artists but it didn't work here. Happily the 60s were right around the corner and before you know it, Cammell is right up there partying with Keith Richards and Brian Jones, and making one of the most telling pictures of the 1960s (Warner Brothers doubts about the release of PERFORMANCE turned it technically into a 1970s film, for they kept it on the shelf for years until they had to put something out).
The Uhlands happily summarize the different reasons why PERFORMANCE became cult classic, mentioning Mr. Fox's adverse reaction to the film (he became a Christian to get away from its taint), and also the so-called "Performance Trims," a separate film shot by Anita van Pallenberg under the sheets in the famous menage a trois scene . . . We have long wondered at what Cammell did, what Nicolas Roeg did... Well according to the Uhlands, Roeg is just about nothing and Cammell just about everything. As a fellow biographer I must credit the couple with being on target every time they talk about the films themselves--I could read their observations all day--but about the man himself they are sometimes puzzlingly vague. They have him on a pedestal so high it's like we're looking at him from his ankles and what we see isn't so flattering, and so the book suffers from a certain split in focus.
To my taste they seem to depend overmuch on the unsupported testimony of one key figure, the estimable editor Frank Mazzola, who comes up with all sorts of assertions the Uhlands are more or less forced to swallow wholesale. Did or did not Vladimir Nabokov write Cammell a letter of praise regarding his PALE FIRE screenplay? Despite every lick of evidence that says "No he didn't," Frank Mazzola says he did, and so we're given that as a fact. Or a "fact."
And some curious lacunae--the Hollywood legend whom Cammell used to shoot new American footage for the Italian SIMONA--Frank calls him only "Samson" and it becomes obscured that this figure must actually be Samson De Brier, the key associate of Kenneth Anger. But all in all a marvelous biography of a man whom time played some tricks in the short run, but in the long run time will endow him with great fame.
Why, you all work for me ! Aug 16, 2006
Overall one would have to say the Umlands' did an excellent job on a difficult subject though I'm not sure about " Anita Pallenberg & Michelle Breton " being world famous actresses -ever. Cammell died around the corner and up the street from me my first year in Los Angeles and having grown up on a lot of British Auteurism in Dublin in the late Seventies & Early Eighties it struck me as profoundly sad that he had somehow managed to come unstuck in the hills & canyons of Hollywood. That said, Donald comes across as a royal pain in the arse in spite of Rebecca Umland's sympathetic portrayal of the " tortured " artist. One got the feeling by the end of the book that Donald Cammell would have been better served sticking with the Royal Academy and a career in illustration. Certainly the family background lent itself to something closer to the classics and less about the popular medium of Cinema and even less so the fusion of rock n' roll and cinema. He wanders through this Biography, lost or at the very least a bit of a bloody dilletante. I think very telling is the close friendship that was forged with Brian Jones and the complete and utter hatred he and Keith Richards had for each other. Telling because Brian Jones suffered the same malaise. Brian was in love with being in The Stones, Donald was in love with being a movie director but in both cases the sheer hard graft of it seemed to be lacking. Good read, finely illustrated, great fotos and they do a wonderful job of NOT scrubbing around in the scandalous.
a fine book on an enigma Aug 11, 2006
I've been waiting a long time for this book. Performance, the film Cammell wrote and co-directed with Nicolas Roeg, is an actual artistic act of magical transformation, and a masterpiece. But the last 25 years of Cammell's life have been a mystery overshadowed by his 1996 suicide. Here at last is a comprehensive, almost scholarly examination of the man and his career, in great detail and with a fine feel for the times (like Marianne Faithfull's comment that compared to Cammell the young Rolling Stones were "lightweights"). The book dispells the myths told about his suicide (which I won't spoil for you), but reveals tantalizing information about his forgotten projects -- man, do I want to see Tilt and Simona (even if I can't unfortunately see Donald's version) -- and I want to track down a copy of Duffy too.
A worthwhile study, beautifully designed and composed. Thanks to everyone who made this possible.