Man on the flying trapeze : the life and times of W.C. Fields /
|Main Author:||Louvish, Simon.|
New York : W.W. Norton, 1997
|Edition:||1st American ed.|
Fields, W. C.
> (William Claude),
Comedians > United States > Biography.
Motion picture actors and actresses > United States > Biography.
Louvish has burrowed deep into a wealth of show business archives, including Fields's obsessively maintained and rarely seen theatrical scrapbooks. He lovingly traces the origins of Fields's comedy in his self-authored vaudeville sketches and follows his progress from the stage (where he was renowned as the world's greatest juggler) to the silent screen to the talkies. Not the least of Louvish's accomplishments is his rich resurrection of the vanished show business world of the music halls and Ziegfeld Follies, the wellspring of much of this century's greatest comedy, whether on stage or screen. Fields's Hollywood work of the thirties and forties included such howlingly funny films as It's a Gift, Man on the Flying Trapeze, You Can't Cheat an Honest Man, My Little Chickadee, The Bank Dick, and Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, whose very titles - along with such Fields catch phrases as "It ain't a fit night out for man nor beast" - have entered our language.
Often scripted by Fields himself under such puckish pseudonyms as Mahatma Kane Jeeves and Otis Criblecoblis, these films featured some of the worst marriages, memorably dysfunctional families, obnoxious pets, and bratty children in all of popular culture - all converging on the hapless figure of Fields himself, the enduring archetype of the American male at bay. (Fields's one non-comic film role that of Micawber in David Copperfield, was equally indelible.) Louvish highlights Fields's tragic struggles in these years against studio heads, censorship, alcoholism, and illness - in the course of which he created some of the greatest gems of film humor.
ix, 564 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 537-539) and index.
Filmography: p. 497-512.