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Harvard, Hollywood, Hitmen, and Holy Men (Hardback)

A Memoir

P&S History > Humanities > Biography & Memoirs

Imprint: University Press of Kentucky
Series: Screen Classics
Pages: 312
ISBN: 9780813196671
Published: 31st January 2023
Casemate UK Academic

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The movie director Paul Williams is a real-life Forrest Gump. Williams' experiences form a unique and often wild constellation of encounters with star power, political power, and spiritual power - a life cycle that led to fame and fortune and to integrity and anonymity.     

In a mad childhood created by an autocratic English teacher father and an infantilizing mother, he develops a precocious visual acuity to avoid wallops and a writing ability that mollified his father. This skill set wins him a scholarship to Harvard, where he needs to learn how the Wisemen think. He seeks out tutors who reveal themselves: Kissinger, Skinner, Galbraith, Erikson, Alpert, Leary, the Hubleys and Jean Renoir. Howard Gardner is his roommate and Michael Crichton is an editor friend on the college daily, The Crimson. After months, his lover reveals she is the heiress of a great American fortune.


A member of the inner circle of the "Movie Brats" who led the charge of American New Wave cinema in the 1970s, Williams' idiosyncrasies make him a darling of the era. His stories about his pals - Scorcese, Voight, Christie, DePalma, Coppola, Dreyfuss, Spielberg, De Niro, Lucas - shed new light on a world bursting with creativity and possibility. He helps Terrence Malick make his first film, tries to adjust to the tyranny of the fabulously wealthy, and turns down the offer to direct the smash hits Animal House and Stepford Wives, and to partner on a new Parisian restaurant - The Hard Rock Cafe; and turns down Lorne Michaels' offer to help him create Saturday Night Live. With amazing honesty, Williams recounts the unexpected details of making his own seminal cult classics, Out of It (1969), The Revolutionary (1970) and Dealing (1972). And his adventures with Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver in Algiers, Fidel Castro in Havana, Huey P. Newton in Oakland, and Pope John Paul II in Vatican City.


Harvard, Hollywood, Hitmen and Holy Men is an extraordinary odyssey - large, experimental, fearlessly audacious and eventually self-knowing. Through his anecdotes, shocking and delightful in their humor and authenticity, Williams takes readers on his unique journey to answer life's big questions - with aides Mescalito (the Peyote guide), Ichazo (the Gurdjieffian Sufi master), and Dilgo Khyentse (the current Dali Lama's principal teacher), and finally, Vivian (a transcendent redhead).

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