Provocative biography of the genius behind the cult classic British film Performance, starring Mick Jagger!
When Donald Cammell, the Scottish painter, filmmaker and novelist, committed suicide in 1996, he left behind a handful of unusual, innovative, frequently disturbing films. One of them - Mick Jagger's acting debut Performance - is now an acknowledged masterpiece of world cinema.
Donald Cammell was a wicked guy. I loved Donald, but he was wicked. I know so many people who will want to read this book.
- Roman Polanski
Donald Cammell's extraordinary life was shrouded in both mystery and legend. In this provocative and comprehensive biography, Sam and Rebecca Umland explore Cammell's remarkable life and times, from his father's friendship with the notorious Aleister Crowley, to Donald's early career as a society portrait painter in Chelsea and the beginning of his film career in Paris during the 'Swinging Sixties', via numerous doomed collaborations with Marlon Brando, to his final years of frustration and ultimate tragedy in Hollywood. In an effort to account for his wasted genius, the authors scrutinize revealing patterns in Cammell's life that help to unlock the enigma of his death.
Donald was a fascinating guy. He was interested in the mysteries of life, hinging on the spiritual.
- Mick Jagger
As well as comprehensive chapters dealing with each of Cammell's films, the book includes a complete, authoritative filmography of the work of Donald Cammell, including full credits for each of his films (with a detailed discussion of the cuts made to Performance prior to its release) the unfinished films, and films in which he appeared, including rare footage.
Donald was in love with death. That's why I cast him in Lucifer Rising as Osiris, Lord of Death.
- Kenneth Anger
Illustrated with many examples of Cammell's work as an artist, plus rare and previously unpublished photographs, and 32 stunning pages of full colour poster reproductions and film stills, this book sheds startling new light on one of Great Britain's most fascinating filmmakers.
How many geniuses do you get to work with in one life?
- Frank Mazzola, editor of Donald Cammell's Wild Side.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Exclusive foreword by Frank Mazzola (editor of Demon Seed, and star of Rebel Without a Cause and East of Eden).
1. The Heart of Midlothian, 1934-1942
Discusses Cammell's family background, including his father's inheritance - and loss - of most of the Cammell-Laird shipbuilding fortune, as well as Donald's birth and early years.
2. Fort Augustus, 1942-1943
Cammell suffered at the Abbey School, located at the Benedictine monastery in Fort Augustus, Scotland. This chapter discusses this traumatic moment in Cammell's tragic life.
3. Portraits, 1944-1959
Examines Cammell's development as a painter. He became a celebrated London portrait artist by the age of 20. In 1954 he was admitted to the prestigious Royal Academy of Arts.
Cammell spent some time with a travelling circus. Exclusively revealed here are Cammell's evocative sketches of circus life, and an essay he wrote extolling this dying tradition's virtues, which proved so important in shaping the artist's future endeavours.
4. Parisian Scenes, 1960-1967
Cammell settled in Paris in 1961, where he met the Rolling Stones and Anita Pallenberg, setting the stage for Performance. Extensive discussions of the first films, The Touchables (1968) and Duffy (1968).
5: Performance, 1967-1970
A detailed description of the making of Performance. Includes first-hand eyewitness accounts from members of the cast and crew, as well as previously hidden outtakes, the infamous 'Performance trims'.
6: Entr'acte, 1970-1974
The early seventies film projects, including the ambitious follow-up to Performance, titled Ishtar. Other projects include The Argument (eventually released 1999). Cammell appears as Osiris in Kenneth Anger's Lucifer Rising.
7: Demon Seed, 1975-1979
The making and critical reception of the science fiction/horror film, Demon Seed. Collaborative projects undertaken afterwards: Tilt (released 1979), Jack the Ripper, Hot!, and perhaps most important, his role as writer for hire with Marlon Brando, Fan-Tan.
8: White of the Eye, 1980-1988
Discussion of Cammell's best film since Performance, White of the Eye, which was written in collaboration with China Cammell, whom he married in 1978. Projects undertaken afterwards include 3000 (which became the smash hit Pretty Woman) and another collaboration with Marlon Brando, Jericho.
9: Wild Side, 1989-1995
Cammell's quarrel with Nu Image and the subsequent truncated cut of his last film, released to cable television in 1996. Wild Side was restored, with much fanfare, in 1999. Also discusses the disastrous estrangement with his wife, China, and his emotional and mental decline.
10: Blood of a Poet, 1995-1996
Donald's last, difficult months before his suicide in 1996. The chapter corrects the distortions and misperceptions of the circumstances of his death, providing a detailed discussion of his final hours.
An attempt to explain Cammell's deep-rooted life-long psychological problems, which eventually led to his tragic suicide.
i) Donald Cammell Filmography
ii) Other Works by Donald Cammell
iii) Unproduced Scripts
iv) Selected Bibliography
About the Author
Rebecca and Samuel Umland co-authored From Connecticut Yankees to Fisher Kings: The Use of Arthurian Legend in Hollywood Film (1996) which a reviewer for Choice said 'should be in every library in the world.' They have spoken and published widely on topics ranging from world cinema to the postmodern world of cyberculture. Together, they have written extensive essays on the work of such filmmakers as David Lynch, Ingmar Bergman, and Lars von Trier. Their writing has appeared in numerous countries, including the USA, UK, France, Germany, Australia and Hong Kong.
Size: 244mm x 171mm
Extent: 304 pages, including 32 pages in full colour
Publication Date: May 2006
Market: Cinema / Biography
Edition: First Edition
Cover Price: £16.95 (UK) / $29.95 (US)