PRINCE BART by Jay Richard Kennedy


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A book about which I defy anyone to be detached and objective. But a book no one can push aside as negligible. For here- in terms often crude and coarse and objectionable, is a violet indictment of the decadence that is Hollywood (or a perhaps dominant phase of Hollywood) -- an expose of the motivation that rejects ideals and puts in their place the false gods of power and overweening ambition and ruthless inhumanity. The story is ""Prince Bart"", but lately a screen idol whose future is imperilled by the fickle public refusing to see him in any but a strong man's role- and whose doctor warns him that his heart can't take it. His contract is uncertain- his agent sees only his own security- his wife, Mollie, sees suicide the way out for herself. Barely in time, Dr. Stern finds his conscience stronger than his ambition and saves her life- and emerges as the one person (except perhaps the shadowy family in Kansas and the elusive adolescent daughter) whose integrity is an anchor to escape. As for Bart himself, his is the case history of a neurotic, compensating for the poverty and frustrations of a childhood in which his Polish father saw him as a ""bum""- a ""no-good"". He must prove himself- be a big name- a big success- not only on the screen but in the eyes of a wholly materialistic public- in the eyes of his competitors- and, incessantly, pervasively, as lover of any woman on whom his fancy lights. Mollie is- now and again- an artificial deterrent, an alibi rather; but there are no roots to their marriage- and neither one gives security to the other. Bart risks all for a sensational comeback in a series of personal appearances, during which he boxes with a professional. And when he faces failure in his personal life at the peak of professional achievement, he finds a way out in a competitive game which marks finis to his slender thread of life. Here is a ""lost week-end"" of sex and ambition. Virtually unrelieved by one single flicker of authentic emotion, still this leaves the reader pulverized by the violent revelation of a menance to American ideals. The market? It takes a pretty hard shell- a willingness to resist shock. Certainly not for public library consumption. I hated it- but I can't forget it.

Pub Date: Feb. 24th, 1952
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Young