Stephen C. Jordan has written a wonderful book...collecting the stories, remembering these long lost days and nights of wine and roses. It is highly recommended. (National Board Of Review, October 2008)
About the Author
Stephen C. Jordan has written articles for several publications including the Portland Press Herald and the Sporting News. He is the author of Bohemian Rogue: The Life of Hollywood Artist John Decker (Scarecrow, 2004).
3.0 out of 5 starssome of them perhaps best remembered by the active participants
ByC. Honoreon January 3, 2015 - Published on Amazon.com
There are two definitive current volumes about this group of rakehells of the 40's (not 30's because John Decker didn't have his house on Bundy drive until 1941). Stephen Jordan and Gregory Mank wrote them. Both are about as different as night and day, but then accounts of the antics of this bohemian group are also different as night and day. Jordan omits Carradine, Alan Mowbray , Thomas Mitchell, and Roland Young, save for brief mentions. Mank, in his volume includes all of these but omits Errol Flynn. The volume written by Jordan makes several glaring errors. Anthony Quinn's film output was indeed prolific, but as prolific as John Carradine, Mickey Rooney, John Wayne, or Christopher Lee?). Furthermore Jordan directly quotes Anne Morrow Lindburgh as referencing John Barrymore, when that quote was actually written to reference playwright Edward Sheldon (and I can prove it). Additionally, some details of escapades differ from the Mank Volume and volumes written by Gene Fowler, (minutes of the last meeting), and others.
All that having been said, one must take all of these anecdotes with at least a grain of salt. Many of them happened, some of them perhaps best remembered by the active participants, (Anthony Quinn was still alive to remember in the 1980s...) and some may be the stuff that dreams are made on. In any event, Jordan goes into many back stories on these men, creative intellectual people who took themselves none too seriously, but played too well. I would say it is interesting reading, especially the portions dealing with Sadakichi Hartmann, a man who, (as John Barrymore described himself) was literally "a man who bridged two generations". Hartmann is little remembered today, if at all, and really should have been the centerpiece of this group. Most regard Barrymore as the true figure around whom these gatherings revolved, and Jordan is in agreement with the others.
I can really only give it 3 stars, as Jordan didn't cover any new ground. His sources are all the same sources used by different authors, and still a lot comes out differently. At 190 pages, the book will be a good bathtub read, but don't believe everything you read...especially about this group.
5.0 out of 5 starsBefore There Was The 'Rat Pack," There Was...
ByMike O'Connoron June 28, 2009 - Published on Amazon.com
The 'Bundy Drive Boys' were the ORIGINAL 'Rat Pack,' a group of free-spirited Hollywood actors, artists and writers who lived life as they damned well pleased in the 1930s and 40s. This core of this over-age boys club was made up of John Barrymore, Errol Flynn, W. C. Fields, Anthony Quinn, artist John Decker, writer Will Fowler and art critic/writer Sadakichi Hartmann. The exploits of their carousing, womanizing and sometimes illegal activities are the stuff of legend. Stephen Jordan admirably chronicles the life and times of Hollywood's version of the Hellfire Club in this delightful if overpriced 2008 release from Scarecrow Press.
Named after their meeting place - John Decker's house/studio on Bundy Drive - the Bundy Drive Boys were an incredibly talented - actually multitalented - collection of rogues and racks. Along with being gifted, group members were intelligent, witty, cynical, and, each in their own way, wounded individuals. W. C. Fields' father, for example, had beat him as a child. Barrymore's stepmother had molested him and so on. They lived a live of 'wine-women-and-song' and made no bones about it. They detested authority and stuffed shirts. Some had legions of adoring fans not to mention wives, mistresses and one-night stands but, in the end, they treasured each other the most.
In 190-odd pages, author Jordan supplies the straight skinny on those untamed souls, entertainingly and comprehensively recounting their exploits. While the misadventures of Barrymore, Flynn and Fields are fairly well-known, Jordan's research makes it obvious they were in great company with Fowler, Decker and the truly unique Sadakicki Hartmann.
Though the accounts of drinking and womanizing - not to mention art forgery(!) - certainly will amuse or occasionally appall fans of Hollywood's golden era, I found Jordan's insights into these men the most fascinating part of the book. Barrymore, for example, is often thought of as a pitiable drunk who wasted away a brilliant acting career. Yet there are a number of accounts in HOLLYWOOD'S ORIGINAL RAT PACK that reveal the wounded yet sweet soul beneath the 'Great Profile.' The same applies to W. C. Fields, Jordan showing us the kind heart hidden behind the gin-swilling, wise-cracking, child-hating stereotype.
In short, I enjoyed HOLLYWOOD'S ORIGINAL RAT PACK tremendously. It offered an insightful look into some noted Hollywood talents. However you view them, the Bundy Drive Boys lived life on their own terms. Despite their inner demons, they never asked for pity. Stephen Jordan's book pays a honest yet loving tribute to them all. Highly recommended.