A candid, revealing memoir from the acclaimed film producer and director.
Throughout the book, Winkler explores the exigencies of conceiving, financing, casting, and shooting a movie as well as the incessant troubleshooting, placating of the intemperate or churlish, cajoling, pleading, negotiating, and always thinking fast on one's feet—not to mention promotion, securing distribution, and other responsibilities. Beginning his career as a talent agent and manager, the author, with longtime partner Bob Chartoff, produced such Academy Award–winning films as Rocky, Raging Bull, Goodfellas and The Right Stuff while also directing other films. At 87, he's still at it. His diary is the chief wellspring of a highly detailed account of 50 years on the hot seat. Winkler chronicles the development of many well-regarded movies as well as the aborted attempts and misfires both accountable and unaccountable. Because the author moves in linear fashion from film to film, a certain sameness begins to creep into the telling. But this is more than compensated for by the diversity of the films discussed, Winkler’s palpable love of the industry, his insider's knowledge, and the generosity he extends to colleagues—not to say that the author doesn’t call out the occasional lout. Winkler also celebrates many longtime friends and associates, none more affectionately than (the late) Chartoff, Martin Scorsese, and Robert De Niro. Winkler’s writing style is breezy, consistently modest, and amiable. Like many in the business with an emotional investment, he occasionally overrates a film or a performance. However, as a screenwriter himself, Winkler knows a clunker when he sees it. You don’t win so many awards if you don't know what you're doing.
Any film buff would love to join Winkler for a long conversation over drinks and dinner. At their best, his recollections are as rich as his films are memorable.