THE DAY THE LAUGHTER STOPPED by David Yallop

THE DAY THE LAUGHTER STOPPED

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Kevin Brownlow commented in his nonpareil history The Parade's Gone By (1968) that ""Hollywood's golden era was for many the most desperate time of their lives."" Thus, along with the trip back to the Twenties and Thirties comes the redemption of earlier victims of the studios and the ""criminally irresponsible"" Hearst press. Yallop asserts zealously ""Here, for the first time, is the truth"" about Fatty Arbuckle who ipso facto was not a very appealing figure even if he was very generous, very hard-working, very pilloried. (And will the ""truth"" be very different in the about-to-be-released James Coca film?) Arbuckle is best remembered by the recurrent fable that he stuck a Coke bottle--others will associate cubes of ice--up the vagina of a party girl, Virginia Rappe. She was already pregnant and apparently suffering from peritonitis; she died a few days later; there was a great deal of medical malpractice in the post-mortem as well as all kinds of perfidious lies during the inquest and three trials to follow. Yallop has no doubt spent years reviewing the case through surviving witnesses as well as excerpts from the testimony. He also enjoys reviving other parallel scandals in ""sin city"" (but was Arbuckle's good friend and co-star Mabel Normand's behavior only ""erratic""? and is the identity of William Desmond Taylor's murderer ""an open secret in Hollywood""--cf. the novel of that unresolved case in this issue, Peeples' The Man Who Died Twice). At broad, very broad, face value Fatty Arbuckle was a great Sennett comic but Yallop, in his heated partisanship, never achieves more than slapstick tragedy out of an unfortunately messy scandal which ended in still warm blood and melted ice.

Pub Date: July 14th, 1976
Publisher: St. Martin's