‘Age of Cage’ book review

Category: Books and Music


“Age of Cage: Four Decades of Hollywood Through One Singular Career” by Keith Phipps is an interesting look into several decades in tinsel town, with the focus being on the career of Nicolas Cage. It is not a biography per se about Cage. Rather it is a look at the times in which he has lived and worked in Hollywood and how the film industry has evolved and how his career evolved through those times.

Cage left high school before graduating to set his sights on his true love of acting. Having been born into the famous Coppola family (his dad’s brother is Francis Ford Coppola) Nicolas found carrying the weight of that name to be somewhat daunting. He wanted to be his own man so he changed his last name to Cage, a name he took from Marvel Comics’ Luke Cage. Nicolas also has a love of music and was so inspired by the name of John Cage a classical musician. Joining a superhero and a musician was the perfect way to start his new career. That is how Nicolas Coppola turned into Nicolas Cage overnight.

Throughout his life and career, Cage has been a colorful and eccentric person. He became a consummate actor although not exactly a star. The difference is a wide chasm. Rock Hudson wanted to be a star and was told by Louis B. Mayer that he could make him into a start but not necessarily into an actor, so the story goes.

Cage has played most of his characters with an edgy tone. He has been hokey, buffoonish, heroic, and sensitive on screen, and quite possibly off screen as well. Cage’s list of genres ranges from rom-com to drama to thriller. The actor approaches each role with his unique thought process. And he attacks each character he plays full on.

As mentioned earlier, this is not a true biography of Cage. On the contrary, it is a history of his acting and films as they reflect the years in which they were produced. While the author sprinkles some of Cage’s personal relationships into the pages, the meat of his off-screen life is missing. This is, in truth, a look at the films, his performances, and the changes in the film industry over the past half century.

With his long list of film credits, it would seem Cage would not have financial problems, but that was not the case. His extreme spending (15 homes, and island, several cars, and more) took him to bankruptcy. And his eccentricities added to his reputation as a strange character, having an octopus and king cobra as well as shrunken heads in his possession.

Fans of the actor have their favorite films. They do run the gamut with many garnering mixed reviews from both the critics and audiences.

On a personal note, I have interviewed Nicolas Cage and enjoyed meeting him. He definitely has his heart in the film industry and his performances show his determination to make each film as good as he can make it. Yes, he is eccentric and edgy, and yes, he has had many personal and professional problems, but there is no denying he is a great presence on screen.

“Age of Cage: Four Decades of Hollywood Through One Singular Career” is exactly what the title implies. Film buffs will enjoy this behind the scenes look into the industry and fans of Cage will enjoy his insights into the films and characters in which he immersed himself.

    • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Henry Holt and Co. (October 19, 2021)
    • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 288 pages

About the Reviewer

Francine Brokaw writes about products, books, travel, and entertainment. She has been published in national and international newspapers and magazines as well as Internet websites. She has written her own book, Beyond the Red Carpet The World of Entertainment Journalists, from Sourced Media Books, is the entertainment correspondent for Good Day Orange County, and has her own TV show, Beyond the Red Carpet, on Village Television in Orange County. Follow her on Twitter.