"Man on the Flying Trapeze," by Simon Louvish. Norton. 56...

Book Brief

November 30, 1997|By Jay Carr | Jay Carr,The Boston Globe

"Man on the Flying Trapeze," by Simon Louvish. Norton. 56 pages. $27.50.

The book's title is that of the author's favorite W.C. Fields film, made in 1935, or, more properly speaking, remade from the 1927 "Running Wild." Louvish produces scripts in Fields's own hand that prove that the characters Fields recycled from vaudeville to film to radio were meticulously reworked and fine-tuned over decades by Fields.

He loved Dickens, got to play Micawber in "Great Expectations" but never realized his dream of playing Pickwick. And while his characters are rooted in the 19th century, he was very much a forward-looking man.

Always anticipating change, Fields was looking toward Broadway and the Ziegfeld Follies when vaudeville began fading, made the jump to Hollywood when he was 45, and never looked back when the Depression dimmed the lights on Broadway.

Pub Date: 11/30/97

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