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Phallic Frenzy: Ken Russell and His Films

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Ken Russell has made some of the most daring, disturbing, and beautifully photographed films of all time. Drawing from a wealth of historic and literary references, Russell’s subjects are astounding: deranged Ursuline nuns in a 17th-century French province, the inner demons of Mary Shelley and Lord Byron, the sexual angst of Tchaikovsky, the emotionally drained life of Rudolph Valentino, the messianism of a pinball wizard, the fury of lesbian vampires, the introspections of prostitutes. Russell’s movies offer not...

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Phallic Frenzy: Ken Russell and His Films

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Overview

Ken Russell has made some of the most daring, disturbing, and beautifully photographed films of all time. Drawing from a wealth of historic and literary references, Russell’s subjects are astounding: deranged Ursuline nuns in a 17th-century French province, the inner demons of Mary Shelley and Lord Byron, the sexual angst of Tchaikovsky, the emotionally drained life of Rudolph Valentino, the messianism of a pinball wizard, the fury of lesbian vampires, the introspections of prostitutes. Russell’s movies offer not just brazen sensationalism but food for thought; they horrify yet inspire. And through it all, Russell maintains a simultaneously impish and intellectual sense of humor.

            The first full biography of the director, Phallic Frenzy is far from a dry, film-by-film analysis. It shows how Russell’s real life has often been as engaging and vibrant as his film scenarios. Here you’ll learn how Alan Bates and Oliver Reed compared their penis sizes for the nude wrestling scene in Women in Love; how Russell disfigured Paddy Chayevsky’s script for Altered States by having the actors holler out the lines as fast as possible, accompanied by spewed food and streams of spittle; and how Russell was slated to direct Evita, starring Liza Minnelli, and the “creative differences” that ensued. A madcap tale full of wild ideas, surreal situations, and a cavalcade of colorful personalities, Phallic Frenzy is as thrilling a ride as any Ken Russell film.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Joseph Lanza knows more about my life than I do!"  —Ken Russell

"A lively and explicit biography."  —Nerve.com

"A solid, long-overdue reconsideration of director Ken Russell's horrific surrealism."  —PLAY

"It makes for a thrilling read—it vibrates, shimmies, pounds down the pavement of every page."  —Alternative Film Guide

"The core features are discussed in exhaustive detail, blending close analysis with lively anecdote . . . [Lanza] has delved extensively into the more colorful aspects of his subject's life."  —Book Review Digest

"Everything you ever wanted to know—and more—about the wild child of Cinema Britannia."  —Financial Times

Nerve.com
A lively and explicit biography.
Play
A solid, long-overdue reconsideration of director Ken Russell's horrific surrealism.
Book Review Digest
The core features are discussed in exhaustive detail, blending close analysis with lively anecdote . . . [Lanza] has delved extensively into the more colorful aspects of his subject's life.
Financial Times
Everything you ever wanted to know-and more-about the wild child of Cinema Britannia
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556526695
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/1/2007
  • Series: Cappella Bks.
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Joseph Lanza is the author of numerous books, including Elevator Music: A Surreal History of Muzak, Easy-Listening and Other Moodsong; Fragile Geometry: The Films, Philosophy, and Misadventures of Nicolas Roeg; Russ Columbo and the Crooner Mystique; and Vanilla Pop: Sweet Sounds from Frankie Avalon to ABBA.

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     V
Pinocchio's Pecker     1
The Lair of the Black Mamba     8
The Lost Lamour     15
Music for a Mental Breakdown     21
Catholic Space Cadets     27
Pathographer's Progress     36
Art with a Capital T     45
Heaven, Hell, and a Waterfall     53
Cold Days in Purgatory     59
Blowing Bubbles     67
Songs of Superman     82
A Bundle of Tortured Nerves     90
Sacrilegious Bitch! The Devils: Part One     103
Sanctimonious Whores! The Devils: Part Two     119
Naughty, Bawdy Bodies     127
The Coffin and the Codpiece     142
Mahler Sieg Heil!     151
A Sadomasochistic Sesame Street     166
Orpheus Extending     180
Valentino and His Double     192
Waiting for Dracula     211
Faust Freaks     221
Operatic Punks     236
The Deco Dildo     248
Prometheus Ungagged     260
Salome's Salami     270
The Serpent in the Rainbow     278
Moll Flounders     289
From White Worms to BlueBalls     298
The Loch Ness Trickster     316
Source Notes     329
Works of Ken Russell     343
Index     367
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