Hellraisers. I’ve not laughed at a book (as much as I did with this one) for quite some time. These four men were womanisers, adulterers, violent, drug takers and above all, boozers of the highest calibre. When Peter O’Toole, Richard Burton, Richard Harris or Oliver Reed approached, one never knew if one was going to receive a kiss, a bear hug or a punch in the teeth.

It must have been and indeed it was, Hell to be married to these men. However, it was never boring and proceeded to a soundtrack of smashed glass, the clink of glasses and the thump of bodies. Come on admit it, there’s a part of everyone who admires these guys for their unwillingness to compromise and their ability to have one Hell of a good time. Who would you rather spend an evening (or more likely a couple of days with) Richard Burton or the wreckage that is Elizabeth Taylor; Oliver Reed or Tom Cruise and his fifteen bodyguards?

No doubt about it these guys were talented. No forget it- they were stars. Only NZ’s finest Russell Crowe shows signs of being up to them and significantly, he was a big pal of Richard Harris. Towards the end it does get a little sad as the health scares mount up, but the photographs alone are worth opening up the book. As I curl up with it during one of my “early nights” I cannot but feel a twinge of envy.

2 thoughts on “Hellraisers!

  1. Philip 17 November 2008 / 9:49 am

    Hi Mark
    I,m sure this is an interesting book but I wouldn’t say these guys didn’t compromise. Thier lives were one big compromise in that all three were tremendously talented but wasted their talents as they got more famous, more rich and pampered. Peter O’Toole is the only one whose career had a lot of good stuff in it but Burton – despite a few good films in his later years – squandered his gift on some truly awful films (sit through appalling films like “Bluebeard” or “Raid on Rommel” and you’ll see) and Richard Harris gradually sunk into dud movies that may have been only ever planned as tax losses and those Europuddings that have no discernible setting and a whole host of tired actors – the kind of movies you see in a video outlet and think “I wonder why I haven’t heard of that” and then watch it and realise why you hadn’t!

  2. Andrew 19 November 2008 / 1:09 pm

    What a cracking book. I’m not sure how many of the stories are true – can you really drink that much? but they certainly are great stories, and one area where they didn’t compromise was in their dedication to have a good time whatever the consequences.

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