Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


W. C. FIELDS A biography. James Curtis. 2003; Alfred A. Knopf.

This is an excellent biography of the great comedian W. C. Fields, from his childhood to his early success as a juggler in vaudeville, to his early film performances, and on to his various successes [and failures] in motion pictures. Curtis describes how certain of Fields' life and career experiences later informed his film portrayals. The book also examines Fields' difficult relationships with his one wife and several mistresses, as well as with his two sons, one legitimate and one not. Curtis goes behind the scenes of such memorable films as The Bank Dick and The Old-Fashioned Way and relates the touchy working relationship between Fields and Mae West on My Little Chickadee. Curtis does a great job of getting across Fields' essentially lovable but often mercurial nature, which was exacerbated by his extreme alcoholism in later years. Sympathetic, incisive and well-researched, this is one superb biography.

Verdict: You'll want to rush out and see every one of Fields' movies! ****.

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