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

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Man on the Flying Trapeze: The Life and Times of W. C. Fields.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Simon Louvish(Author)

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"[Fields] was his own greatest creation, and in Louvish, this complicated artist has finally found the biographer he deserves."―Malcolm Jones, Jr., Newsweek

Man on the Flying Trapeze is the first biography in decades ― and the only accurate one ― of the beloved cinematic curmudgeon and inimitable comic genius W. C. Fields. Simon Louvish brilliantly sifts through evidence of Fields's own self-creation to illuminate the vaudeville world from which Fields sprang and his struggles with studios and censors to make his hilarious films-in the process confirming suspicions (yes, he did drink) and confounding them (he doted on his grandchildren). "One of the best movie biographies to come along in quite some time. . . . [A] book to cherish."―Film Review "[Man on the Flying Trapeze] nicely regales us with many vaudevillian stories. . . . Louvish does a heroic job."―Katharine Whittemore, New York Times Book Review "A rapturous, giddy, and irrepressible book. . . . Let us be clear: this is a delight, a marvel of research . . . and a superb argument for the case that William Claude Dukenfield was, and is, the greatest comic the movies have given us."―David Thomson "At last 'the Great Man' (as Fields called himself, accurately) has a great biography."―Kirkus Reviews (starred review) Illustrated

A rapturous, giddy, and irrepressible book. . . . Let us be clear: this is a delight, a marvel of research . . . and a superb argument for the case that William Claude Dukenfield was, and is, the greatest comic the movies have given us. -- David ThomsonAt last 'the Great Man' (as Fields called himself, accurately) has a great biography. -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)One of the best movie biographies to come along in quite some time. . . . [A] book to cherish. -- Film Review[Fields] was his own greatest creation, and in Louvish, this complicated artist has finally found the biographer he deserves. -- Malcolm Jones, Jr., Newsweek[Man on the Flying Trapeze] nicely regales us with many vaudevillian stories. . . . Louvish does a heroic job. -- Katharine Whittemore, New York Times Book Review Simon Louvish is the author of nine critically acclaimed novels, including The Days of Miracles and Wonders. He teaches film at the London International Film School and writes frequently about the Golden Age of comedy.

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Book details

  • PDF | 574 pages
  • Simon Louvish(Author)
  • W. W. Norton & Company; 1St Edition edition (March 17, 1999)
  • English
  • 8
  • Biographies & Memoirs

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Review Text

  • By Richard The Buying Hearted on October 27, 2014

    Very in depth look at W.C. Fields who almost single handed invented what is now called 'putting the spin on a story'. I do not envy Mr. Louvish his job of digging through all the myriad tall tales Fields had told about himself over the years until they were accepted as gospel by his adoring fans. A lot of balloon piercing goes on in this biography but none of it malicious or nit picky in the least. At the end of this excellent biography you'll come away knowing a lot more about the real W.C. Fields than I would have thought possible at this late date. It's complete from birth to death and is probably the best job any biographer could ever do considering the intensive and copious research done by the author. I highly recommend it.Just a note here to the person who is serious about his Fields biographers: This is an excellent companion to 'W.C. Fields by Himself: His Intended Autobiography' which took all the material that Fields had kept himself for his own story to be told in what one can only assume would have been his autobiography and is lovingly assembled by his grandson and published as is. I admire the gentleman for that, as today one would expect a ghost writer to be hired instead. Simon Louvish refers to this treasure trove from time to time in 'Man On The Flying Trapeze' and I found it to indeed be a treasure chest of actual information about Fields as well. You can't go wrong by buying both and you'll then have the most complete picture that can be painted today.

  • By Barry Sharpe on November 10, 2010

    Simon Louvish is not for everyone. His style nettles some readers and his conclusions infuriate others. But he uncovers new material in each of his books I've read, adding to the body of evidence we measure these performers by.In 'The Life and Times of W.C. Fields' he digs through mountains of prevarications, misconceptions, myths and outright lies to present a hitherto unseen image of The Great One while allowing the reader to judge for himself the validity of his theories. I value an author who doesn't feel a compelling need to force me to go along with his assumptions.While some may criticize Louvish' style, I find him readable and provocative. I recognize other works on Fields' life and career may have appeal, there is certainly room for biographies by non-family members whose bias or need for obfuscation is not as apparent.Reader beware: if you are not ready to question the W.C. Fields mythology, this is not the book for you. On the other hand, if you are open-minded and willing to question the validity of certain Fields truisms, you will find this volume entertaining and well written.

  • By Richard on August 2, 2016

    Good read!

  • By Brendan R. Tupa on December 24, 2008

    WC Fields was a funny man with a lust for life and entertaining, but if you only read this book, you would never know it.

  • By Richard M. Rollo on February 5, 2009

    Simon Louvish sets out to separate the facts from the fiction of W.C.Fields and, as others have noted, has covered much of the same ground that Field's grandson Ronald has covered. Fields shrewdly understood human nature in that well told lies are much more interesting than the truth, which is prosaic and often ambiguous.Louvish shines in his account of how Fields career evolved and how it belied F. Scott Fitzgerald's idea that there are no second acts in American life.Fields had flourished on the vaudeville stage with routines that had been honed and tested with audiences around the world. He had faced hostility and even outright sabotage from promoters like Ziegfeld, who thought the only role for comedians was to fill the stage until the girls had changed clothes for their next number.It was on the stage that Fields developed most of his comic themes using the writer J.P McEvoy. McEvoy was no Mahatma Kane Jeeves (My hat, my cane, Jeeves); McEvoy was a real comic writer who wrote the Comic Supplement, which was the source material for much of comedy in the classic film It's A Gift.Fields bombed in his silent movie career. He was no Charlie Chaplin. It wasn't until that voice with its raspy cynicism matched up with his sense of words and language did his comedy really come alive.It also becomes clear that Field's last film, Never Give A Sucker An Even Break, is his monument to all the directors and producers who tried to wreck his movies, and above all, to Joseph Breen, the censor, whose inane morals enforcement sucked the life out of the movies. In fact, I too would like to drink a toast to Breen with a double shot of nanny goat's milk...if I had any.


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