Celebrity biographer Eliot (Steve McQueen, 2011, etc.) highlights American actor and producer Michael Douglas, considering his life and career through a competitive lens.
The author proposes that Douglas was driven by both his parents’ divorce and his legendary father Kirk’s career—the son constantly sought to emerge from his father’s shadow. In addition to covering Kirk’s formative years as the child of Russian Jewish immigrants and his journey in Hollywood, Eliot examines Michael’s struggles and successes, his personal and professional relationships (with emphasis on his marriage to Catherine Zeta-Jones as the height of his personal life) and his diagnosis and recovery from cancer. References to his father, replete with discouraging remarks, punctuate the narrative in sometimes heavy-handed ways, though Eliot concludes by surmising an eventual peace between father and son. Readers seeking a deep, insightful examination of the actor will likely be disappointed, and casual, lazy descriptions hamper the writing. Of the role played by Melanie Griffith in Shining Through, Eliot remarks that her character “…is spying for America in the heart of Berlin during World War II and [is] somehow able to slip in and out of Germany more easily than a teenage hottie gets past security at a Justin Bieber concert.” Of Sharon Stone’s memorable turn in Basic Instinct: “One quick flash of her pubic hair would make her a star—if not at the morning-after water coolers, like Fatal Attraction, then in the night-before wet dreams of the film’s vast male viewers.” Despite such moments, film buffs will appreciate chapters on One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the Oscar-winning film Douglas co-produced, as well as behind-the-scenes glimpses of such popular fare as Romancing the Stone and mentions of other stars, from Jack Nicholson to Danny DeVito.
A fleeting account of ambition tempered by experience, with special emphasis on reconciling past and present and finding a renewed sense of family.