MAD AS HELL: The Life and Work of Paddy Chayefsky by Shaun Considine
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MAD AS HELL: The Life and Work of Paddy Chayefsky

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A worthwhile biography of a worthy subject: Paddy Chayefsky, probably the finest writer to emerge from television. The author of gossipy books about Barbra Streisand and the Bette Davis -- Joan Crawford feud (Bette and Joan, 1989, etc.) would seem to be an odd author to chronicle the life of a serious writer, but Considine's admiration for Chayefsky's work shines through every page of this absorbing book. Clearly bored with some of the traditional baggage of biography, Considine hustles through Chayefsky's early life in a few brief, awkward chapters. However, from the moment Chayefsky turned his hand to writing, Considine stretches out to provide richly detailed accounts of each of his productions. Chayefsky's first great success came in 1953 with his original television drama Marty, a pioneering work in the naturalistic style whose film version, two years later, brought Chayefsky the first of three Academy Awards. Considine reveals that Chayefsky had a brief affair with leading lady Kim Novak during the filming of Middle of the Night (a revelation that is too coyly teased at in the book's introduction). Career setbacks plagued Chayefsky in the '60s as he attempted to widen the scope of his work, but he staged a remarkable comeback in the '70s with the films The Hospital and Network. If Considine's book seems to cover five parts career to one part life, it quickly becomes evident that this was how Chayefsky lived. A psychological portrait emerges of a deeply divided man with an unhappy wife and a troubled son. Only after a horrible experience with what would be his last film, Altered States, did Chayefsky finally began to integrate his personality and find some peace, only to die as he turned to new work. An exceptional book that, it is hoped, will prompt a reappraisal of the entire range of Paddy Chayefsky's writing.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0595120296
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Random House