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Book Review

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Blade Runners, Deer Hunters and Blowing the Bloody Doors Off: My Life in Cult Movies (Hardback)


Author: Michael Deeley with Matthew Field
Publisher: The History Press
RRP: £20.00
ISBN: 978 0 7509 8592 5
Publication Date: 24 October 2017

Michael Deeley may not be a name which a casual cinema goer may recognise, but in his career, as a producer, he has been responsible for bringing to the screen some important and memorable films.

Blade Runners: Deer Hunters & Blowing the Bloody Door Off: My Life in Cult Movies (2017. 297 pages) is an autobiography co-written by Deeley and Matthew Field.

Deeley was born in nineteen thirty-two and following a spell in the army was knocking about wondering what to do next when he was offered a job in film editing. Like most enterprising young men he realised that there was more money to be made in producing films than just working on them.

The book gives the reader a detailed account of what a producer actually does. It may be an actor's or director's name which brings in the punters, but it is the producer who hires people for both of these roles.

Hollywood has increasingly, since the latter half of the twentieth century, become an industry which provides physical locations and the logistics to get a film out to cinemas, the real film makers have become the producers.

It may seem tangential at this point to mention Mel Brooks's The Producers (1968) but, apart from being a great comedy, it also shows the role of the producer, from finding a project to getting a script written, finding actors and hiring directors as well as having to find the money to make the thing.

Deeley produced few films in his career. There are the tentative first projects, a nudist film which bore little merit, however one of his first features was based on the popular Goons, The Case of the Mukkinese Battle Horn (1956), which shows that he was attracted to projects because they were unusual. I’m sure he could have made a reasonable living creating pot boilers, but Deeley will be remembered for being attracted to some of the standout films of the last fifty years, though I probably don’t count Convoy (1978) or Sandy the Reluctant Nudist (1964) among these.

The book covers much of the trials and tribulations of trying to get a project made, both the highs and lows. His more notable projects included The Italian Job (1969), The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), The Deer Hunter (1978) and Blade Runner (1982) and these films bare the biggest weight of the text.

He holds little back when describing his relationships and thoughts on some of the people he has worked with, especially directors Michael Cimino and Sam Peckinpah for whom he has few good words. To be fair to Deeley he is not falsely maligning these directors, their antics and attitudes have been recorded in numerous other works.

Overall, if you want to gain a deeper insight into how films really get made, a peek behind the magic curtain, then I would highly recommend Deeley’s book which is written in a warm and accessible way.


Charles Packer

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