RODGERS AND HART: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bedeviled! by Samuel & Jan Clayton Marx

RODGERS AND HART: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bedeviled!

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The incomparable theater-song pioneers of The Boys from Syracuse and Babes in Arms are dragged through a chaotic, though rigidly chronological, gossipfest decked out as psychological biography and ""our record of the times."" The intended coup here is the breathless revelation of Lorenz Hart's homosexuality, but conflicting, irresponsibly sketchy documentation annihilates credibility, and--despite protestations of compassionate motives--a now-it-can-be-told leer taints the proceedings. The authors have cornered and recorded quantities of aging actresses (Edith Meiser, Vivienne Segal, Helen Ford) and undistinguished hangers-on (Leonard Spigelgass, Jerome Lawrence)--all willing to contribute gushing, self-serving anecdotes or glib amateur psychoanalyses. The rehearsal-performance-party legends appear too (on brighter display in memoirs by Rodgers and Josh Logan), but Hart's alcoholism, gnomish physiognomy, and Back Street degradations receive relentless emphasis. Rodgers, a potentially more rewarding personality study, remains in comparative eclipse, and the songs themselves are appropriated for punning chapter titles, not treated to genuine appreciations or critiques. Moreover, Marx (a Rodgers contemporary and acquaintance) and Clayton (Carousel's first Julie) can't handle the mechanics of collaboration; they quote each other, stumble from third to first person, and exchange cutenesses in the footnotes. Add yet another subtitle (from Pal Joey's Gypsy Rose Lee send-up) to the crowded cover: Zip!

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1976
Publisher: Putnam