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Man on the Flying Trapeze: The Life and Times of W.C. Fields [Paperback]

Simon Louvish
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 Feb 1999
To most people W. C. Fields is an instantly recognisable figure, aclassic icon of film comedy. But the full and true tale of the life and art of the clown who dubbed himself 'The Great Man' has, astonishingly, never been told. This is the first book to relate in detail William Claude Dukenfield's artistic path to the cinema, disentangling the facts from the pack of lies and myths mischievously nurtured by Fields himself. Following meticulous research in a host of archives, including the personal scrapbooks of Fields himself, Simon Louvish lovingly traces the origins of Fields' comedy in his self-authored vaudeville sketches, then follows his career from stage to silent screen, revealing the sources of his great talkie routines, and highlighting his later tragic struggle, against studio heads,censorship, alcohol addiction and illness, to create some of the greatest gems of screen humour.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; New Ed edition (15 Feb 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571197728
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571197729
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.6 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 221,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Simon Louvish, born Glasgow, Scotland, in 1947, author, film maker, lecturer in film at London Film School. I work in both fiction and non-fiction, having published more than ten fiction novels and seven and a half books of movie biography, mainly on Hollywood's golden-age comedians. I have now returned full-time to the fiction field, and am currently involved in re-printing the entire BLOK SAGA, to include the four books already published and two unpublished volumes, BLOK 5: THE FUNDAMENTAL BLOK and BLOK 6: THE CHINESE SMILE. These will appear under the imprint of Margaret Macdonald Books, which is my present personal imprint and will include in due course the hard-copy issue of the new paperback BLOK SAGA and e-book publications. THE BLOK SAGA Special Edition begins with the first two volumes in the series, THE THERAPY OF AVRAM BLOK and CITY OF BLOK, which are now available on Amazon vended by my own merchant label "louvishbooks." These books were first published in 1985 and 1988 and received a wash of fine reviews, but have been out of print for some time. The Saga began by dealing specifically with the madness of the modern Middle East and Avram Blok's wanderings in the labyrinth of Israel-Palestine and in Europe and America of the 1970's and `80's but morphs in the later volumes to encompass China and a wide historical sweep. So it goes. Hoping it finds a new generation of readers in the world of global turmoil, crisis and collapsing certainties, who can foresee more madness yet to come...

Product Description

About the Author

Simon Louvish was born in Glasgow in 1947 and misspent his youth growing up in Israel between 1949 and 1968, including a stint as an army cameraman from 1965 to 1967.Having decamped to the London School of Film Technique in 1968, Simon became involved in the production of a series of independent documentary films about apartheid in South Africa, dictatorship in Greece, and general mayhem in Israel-Palestine from 1969 to 1973. He also published a memoir of his Israeli days entitled A Moment of Silence in 1979.Since 1985 Simon has published a series of novels set mainly in the Middle East, including the acclaimed Blok trilogy (The Therapy of Avram Blok, City of Blok and The Last Trump of Avram Blok). His most recent Middle East novel, The Days of Miracles and Wonders, was published in the UK in 1997 by Canongate.Since 1979, he has also been teaching film at the London International Film School and writing for various newspapers and magazines.Simon Louvish is the author of a trilogy of definitive biographies of the great clowns of screen comedy, including Man on the Flying Trapeze (1997), the story of W. C. Fields, Monkey Business: The Lives and Legends of the Marx Brothers (1999), and Stan and Ollie: The Roots of Comedy (2001), all published by Faber & Faber. Further film biographies include Keystone: The Life and Clowns of Mack Sennett(2003), Mae West: It Ain't No Sin (2005), and Cecil B. DeMille and The Golden Calf (2007).

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frank and fascinating 1 Jun 2003
Although this book is extensively researched and packed with factual information, it's never less than entertaining. The authors obvious affection and admiration for the Great Man and his work hasn't resulted in a hagiography; unpalatable facts are presented and the reader is generally left to come to their own conclusion.
Fragments of script, personal correspondence and descriptions of "business" are interleaved with the main body of the text to near flawless effect.
A gem.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 5 Nov 2010
This is a very detailed and judicious biography of the great WC Fields. The author is a good critic as well as a fair-minded biographer, so we get a very informative and enlightening analysis of the art as well as the life. Anyone curious about this remarkable comedian should start here.
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5.0 out of 5 stars They don't make 'em like this any more 18 Jun 2011
By Michael Jenkins VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the fourth book I have purchased by the same author, and although he does go into meticulous detail, you can't fault the finished product, if you are a fan of W.C. Fields as I am, and I never knew the half of his career, then buy this book. Alternatively go on to youtube and watch the great man's juggling skills, fantastic stuff and this book is a fantastic read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars W.C. Fields Biography 8 Mar 2009
It's a brilliant book and by far the best and most accurate story of 'The Great Man'.
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