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Further Phoenix
at Rio's Attic:

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Surviving: A Family in Crisis


Peter Bogdanovich

The Thing Called Love

The Mosquito Coast

I Love You To Death

My Own Private Idaho

Keanu Reeves

Harrison Ford

Joe Dante

Wolfgang Muller

Toronto Film Festival

William Hurt

Mollie Ringwald

First Films

Jami Bernard

New York Post

Total Exposure: The Movie Buff's Guide to Celebrity Nude Scenes
Rio's Attic: Celebrating the Life and Times of a Dearly Missed River Phoenix
American EnglishEn Français

First Films

Illustrious, Obscure and
Embarassing Movie Debuts

by Jami Bernard.
First Published in 1993.

ISBN 0-8065-1402-7 (Paperback, 320 Pages)

More recently, the film critic for the New York Post, Jami Bernard, has writen such unusual books such as the questionable Total Exposure : The Movie Buff's Guide to Celebrity Nude Scenes. Back in mid-1993 however, this book was published in which the author presents a collection of behind-the-scenes anecdotes, then-and-now photographs but most importantly, the not-always-pretty film debuts of more than one hundred actors and directors.

Often, it appears that the aim is for maximum embarrassment for the people being featured. Because of this, it is sometimes surprising to occasionally see a perfectly respectable movie listed. One of them is Explorers.

"I went out on a standard cattle call for four auditions," says Phoenix in a very serious, intent way, which must have been why Dante made him the scientist of the group. "At the time I had a cast on from a motorcycle accident, and I had plumped out pretty good. I told Dante I can do this part, I know I can. He cared for me and wanted me to be in the project somehow."

The book is certainly true to its title and considers only debut movies. So in River's section for example, there is no mention of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or any of the TV-movies of River's early, fledgling career.

River's co-stars from I Love You To Death, William Hurt and Keanu Reeves are also featured as is River's co-star from Surviving, Molly Ringwald. The author also talks about the early career of the director of The Thing Called Love, Peter Bogdanovich.

"I think The Mosquito Coast was the most daring thing I've done, because it was advanced for my age," said Phoenix over dinner during the 1991 Toronto Festival of Festivals. In The Mosquito Coast, he is the son of an inventor (Harrison Ford) whose obsessions are destroying the family.

The Mosquito Coast is not nearly as daring as the role of a narcoleptic hustler searching for home in My Own Private Idaho, the film for which Phoenix had traveled to the festival.

Privately, Phoenix can be as studious as Wolfgang Muller; at a press conference the next day, however, he seemed hostile and incoherent. "It's difficult, the actual process of communicating," he explains haltingly. Friends chalk it up to shyness.

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