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THE LIFE AND ART OF A COMIC GENIUS
on 8 April 2006
Finally, THE definitive biography of one of the most revered figures ever to appear on the world stage or step before a motion picture camera. While there've been almost two dozen books about Fields published already (mostly filmographies, quote books, picture books or screenplays), this collection is essential for several important reasons. First of all, it's one of the best biographies of a film personality ever written. Head and shoulders above Simon Louvish's sluggish MAN ON THE FLYING TRAPEZE, more ambitious than Ronald J. Fields' collection of letters and radio scripts (W.C. FIELDS BY HIMSELF), on a literary par with Robert Lewis Taylor's brilliant W.C. FIELDS: HIS FOLLIES AND FORTUNES (but without that author's fictional flights of fancy), James Curtis turns out to be the ideal biographer of the iconoclastic comedian.
Setting the record straight regarding volumes of Fieldsian apocrypha, the legend remains intact whilst the enigmatic man behind it emerges for perhaps the first time in print. Full of nostalgia, fascinating revelations about Fields' working methods and creative approach to filmmaking, scandalous professional behavior, revealing personal data, heretofore unsuspected alliances (it comes as no surprise that Fields was a fan and drinking pal of his temperamental soulmate, H.L. Mencken), and many, many wonderful anecdotes. The ideal book to curl up with on a winter's eve (when it ain't a fit night out for man nor beast), with the necessary pitcher-full of your favorite "snake bite remedy," as Fields would say. (He'd also recommend you always carry a small snake...) A worthy tribute to a giant of American comedy. ***** 5 stars, easy.