Harvard, Hollywood, Hitmen, and Holy Men: A Memoir

Univ. of Kentucky. Feb. 2023. 320p. ISBN 9780813196671. $27.95. FILM
In the late ’60s and early ’70s, Williams directed a handful of movies about the counterculture, using actors such as Jon Voight and Robert Duvall, and he produced films by Terrence Malick and Brian De Palma. His story starts well enough—childhood, college, making films, meeting Eldridge Cleaver, Huey Newton, and Fidel Castro. But halfway through, the book goes seriously off track; as much space is devoted to drug and out-of-body experiences as to his dwindling career, and the experiences are described in overlong and overheated prose. Julie Christie asked him to leave his second wife for her, and he said he couldn’t: his baby daughter needed two stable years with mother and father to build foundational trust. But two years later, wife and child were long gone, and Williams was off with another woman. He turned down working on The Stepford Wives, Animal House, and Annie. All earned scads of money but none for him, and shortage of money is a recurring preoccupation in this book.
VERDICT This memoir is muddled. Only for confirmed film enthusiasts.
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