Nick Dawson

Access Type

Online access to this book is only available to eligible users.



Download Full Text (4.4 MB)


Hal Ashby (1929–1988) was always an outsider, and as a director he brought an outsider's perspective to Hollywood cinema. After moving to California from a Mormon household in Utah, he created eccentric films that reflected the uncertain social climate of the 1970s. Whether it is his enduring cult classic Harold and Maude (1971) or the iconic Being There (1979), Ashby's artistry is unmistakable. His skill for blending intense drama with off-kilter comedy attracted A-list actors and elicited powerful performances from Jack Nicholson in The Last Detail (1973), Warren Beatty and Julie Christie in Shampoo (1975), and Jon Voight and Jane Fonda in Coming Home (1979). Yet the man behind these films is still something of a mystery. This book tells the story of a man whose thoughtful and challenging body of work continues to influence modern filmmakers and whose life was as dramatic and unconventional as his films. Although his name may not be recognized by many of today's filmgoers, Hal Ashby is certainly familiar to filmmakers. Despite his untimely death in 1988, his legacy of innovation and individuality continues to influence a generation of independent directors, including Wes Anderson, Sean Penn, and the Coen brothers, who place substance and style above the pursuit of box-office success.

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY


978-0-8131-2538-1 (cloth)


978-0-8131-7334-4 (pdf version)


978-0-8131-3919-7 (epub version)



Hal Ashby, Director, Hollywood, Cinema, Harold and Maude, Being There, The Last Detail, Shampoo, Coming Home, Filmmakers


American Film Studies | Film and Media Studies | Mass Communication

Being Hal Ashby: Life of a Hollywood Rebel
Read Sample Off-campus Download

Non-UKY University Press users, please click the blue download button to access from a UPK consortium network