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De Niro
Cover of De Niro
De Niro
A Biography

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.

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.

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About the Author-
  • John Baxter is a film critic, novelist, biographer and broadcaster, whose books on the cinema include 'The Hollywood Exiles', 'The Cinema of John Ford', and highly praised biographies of Ken Russell, Fellini, Bunuel, 'Steven Spielberg' and 'Stanley Kubrick'. His biography of 'Woody Allen' was published by HarperCollins in November 1998.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 1, 2004
    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.

  • Library Journal

    May 15, 2004
    Robert De Niro's ability to inhabit his characters completely makes him one of our greatest actors. Despite his fame-or perhaps because of it-he rarely gives interviews, which may explain the dearth of material available on him. Drawing on his own research and interviews with friends and colleagues, Baxter, a British film critic and the author of more than 15 film books, has written a detailed, unauthorized overview of De Niro's life and career. A native of New York City, De Niro was the only child of artist parents who had an unconventional marriage (Baxter asserts that De Niro's father was gay). At 17, shy, lonely, and with few prospects, he decided to train as an actor, toiling long and hard before his breakthrough in Taxi Driver. Though there are some juicy tidbits here, the book's strength lies in Baxter's detailed critique of De Niro's movies and career and the inclusion of a filmography. Unfortunately, the text is marred by an irritating, sometimes overly dramatic point of view, as when Baxter puts thoughts in De Niro's head and words in his mouth. Nevertheless, given the scarcity of literature on the actor, this will make a welcome addition to performing arts collections.-Rosellen Brewer, Monterey Cty. Free Libs., Salinas, CA

    Copyright 2004 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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