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

Thursday, July 1, 2010


THIS TIME TOGETHER: Laughter and Reflection. Carol Burnett. Harmony Books; 2010.

A very entertaining memoir by the gifted Burnett in the form of short anecdotal chapters and recollections of times good and bad, close friends, performers she loved to work with such as Lucille Ball, Julie Andrews, and Beverly "Bubbles" Sills, the joy of her family, and the tragic death of one of her daughters, Carrie Hamilton, to cancer at 38. [Burnett and Hamilton turned an earlier memoir by Burnett about her parents into a stage play, which received one of caustic critic John Simon's rare rave reviews.] Burnett reveals the sheer chutzpah that seems to be needed to succeed and survive in show business, and tells many amusing stories about encounters with fans and stars alike, including a funny -- and for once, non-nasty -- anecdote about Joan Crawford. She's not above pointing out her mistakes, such as playing -- badly -- a prostitute [!] in Billy Wilder's The Front Page. Burnett also explains why her career might have played very differently, if at all, in the current times, when TV shows are canceled before they even have a chance to find an audience, and the bottom line would never put up with the cost of the kind of variety show she specialized in. [She makes absolutely no mention of her short-lived second comedy series or the cast.] While the book could have used, perhaps, a little more bluntness and depth, it's still an engaging read.

Verdict: Funny, essentially warm, and worthwhile memoir. ***.

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