* * * * Four Stars! Highest Rating! Actor-Director-Playwright Nugent has written one of the most intense, intimate displays of a breakdown since Fitzgerald's Crack-up. Seldom has the sanity in insanity been shown with more controlled and convincing insight. His memoir builds like a comedy-drama toward a dark climax during which he lands in jail four times during a single drunken week and registers in four hotels simultaneously to avoid his pursuers. (Actually, it is the Hound of Heaven at his heels, for he is wavering at the gates of Catholicism). Nugent's opening chapters deal with his vaudeville childhood; later he went to Ohio State where James Thurber became his closest friend. He wrote several plays with his father and was an early Broadway success. He married young and has three grown daughters. He directed the earliest and funniest Hope-Crosby movies, and later on Broadway starred in The Voice of the Turtle, co-directed The Seven Year Itch. But the major event in his professional life was his collaboration with Thurber on The Male Animal, which is lovingly detailed. His friendship with Thurber receives full treatment as he describes his friend's sad physical decay and final bitterness. In the early fifties, at the height of his careers Nugent became a confirmed hypomanic-depressive, with months of elation followed by months of flooding despair. Then, the ""comedy"" of his title erupted into two weeks of well-heeled chaos...A masterly memoir; no cheap humor or ersatz philosophy; both funny and deeply moving, this is rare, lovely stuff particularly in its understatement.