The Big Goodbye

Sam Wasson

A book that will take its place alongside classics like Easy Riders, Raging Bulls and Robert Evans’ The Kid Stays in the Picture.

18 in stock

Date Published
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Sight & Sound‘s #1 Film Book of 2020

is the Holy Grail of 1970s cinema. Its ending is the most notorious in American film and its closing line of dialogue the most haunting. Here for the first time is the incredible true story of its making. In Sam Wasson’s telling, it becomes the defining story of its most colorful characters. Here is Jack Nicholson at the height of his powers, embarking on his great, doomed love affair with Anjelica Huston. Here is director Roman Polanski, both predator and prey, haunted by the savage murder of his wife, returning to Los Angeles, where the seeds of his own self-destruction are quickly planted. Here is the fevered deal-making of “The Kid” Robert Evans, the most consummate of producers. Here too is Robert Towne’s fabled script, widely considered the greatest original screenplay ever written. Wasson for the first time peels off layers of myth to provide the true account of its creation. Looming over the story of this classic movie is the imminent eclipse of the ’70s filmmaker-friendly studios as they gave way to the corporate Hollywood we know today.

Critic Reviews

This is such a fine book it is already being turned into a film, by the Oscar-winner Ben Affleck . . . The making-of story is terrific – how Polanski, Jack Nicholson and various producers battled through sleaze and tragedy to make timeless art.

Sunday Times 'Books of the Year'
Critic Reviews

Wasson is a canny chronicler of old Hollywood and its outsize personalities...More than that, he understands that style matters, and, like his subjects, he has a flair for it.

The New Yorker
Critic Reviews

Sam Wasson is a fabulous social historian because he finds meaning in situations and stories that would otherwise be forgotten if he didn't sleuth them out, lovingly.

Hilton Als