10 November 2006

If Chins Could Kill

I was sent Bruce Campbell's autobiography, If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor, by the inestimable Lucky Bob, who encouraged me to read it someplace where I wouldn't be concerned about laughing out loud. I am never concerned by such things, and I am already regarded by many people here as not fully sane. But the end of October seems to have reduced my ability to laugh out loud, even in private, at least for a while. So I didn't laugh out loud that much at the book.

But in any other month… well. This is a great book, a great read, funny and warm and full of passion. Mr. Campbell did what most people don't think they can really do—he followed his dream. He wanted to be an actor, because being an actor isn't really very much like working. Or at least that’s how it seemed. For Bruce Campbell, at least, acting turned out to be very much like work, hard sometimes, unpleasant, crazy, not especially remunerative. But throughout it he was what he wanted to do, what he had always dreamed of doing, and so the hardship and the struggle were never so bad, and what might have been grueling work seemed much more fun.

You may not have heard of Bruce Campbell. He admits this much on the back cover. But he also points out that his book isn't just for his fans. It's for anyone who wants to know what life in Hollywood is like for the majority of actors, for the working stiffs who come in every day and do the small roles and don't command $20 million per picture, who don't feed the tabloid machine and don't go testify before Congressional committees about their dimwit political opinions and don't headline summer blockbusters. There are lots of such people, far more than there are big stars, and to some degree Campbell is speaking for all of them.

If Hollywood is a hard place to make a living, but a kid from suburban Detroit with a big chin can make it, then what's to scare the rest of us off from trying our hand at what we really want to do? That's the message that underlies the whole book, and what a great message it is. Bruce Campbell may not be a household name, and you don't get the impression he wants to be anymore, but the friends he ran with as a kid all went out to Hollywood to make their way, and one of those friends (who appears throughout the book) is Sam Raimi, the fellow who made those little movies called Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2. I don't know if you've seen those; they're only the best superhero movies ever made. Clearly you can do well doing what you really want to do.

I could philosophize a while here about how this was exactly the right book for me to read right now, and it was. But I'll spare you. I may not have laughed out loud every other page, but I wouldn't have laughed out loud at much the last couple weeks; doesn't mean I don't appreciate the humor. And whether you're a fan of Evil Dead or Army of Darkness or Brisco County, Jr. (or The Hudsucker Proxy, one of my favorite movies of all time) or not, Bruce Campbell is a funny man, a down-to-Earth guy with a great story to tell and a great way of telling it. You're going to like this book. Go read it.


Lucky Bob said...

I am so sorry you didn't get to laugh out loud. It gives me a much better idea how hard that month was on you. Though I am glad it helped you out. I hoped it would provide some pleasure and a good outlook.

Anonymous said...

The Hudsucker Proxy is such a great movie. I don't know why I like it so much, but I do.

Still waiting for the audio CD of this book where Bruce Campbell narrates. That would be fantastic.

saby said...

I have to agree with you whole heartedly about the book, although I laughed aloud many times. This was the only book where I wasn't able to put it down and read it as soon as I got home from purchasing it. In one sitting mind you, staying up until 5:00a.m. to finish it. I have also reread it too many times to count. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone, Campbell fan or not(although I don't know why you wouldn't be).