Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE ART OF W.C. FIELDS by William K. Everson



Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1967
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill

Hubbah My Little Chickadee, the grand old man you love to hate is commemorated here to an almost exhausting extent. Misanthrope, tormentor of dogs and children, Fields became a legend in which the screen image and the man were inseparable. Son of a Cockney immigrant, his childhood was one of Dickensian poverty. By the time he was fourteen, however, he was an adept amateur Juggler and started his show business career in the circus; thence to burlesque and finally to films. Mr. Everson claims that Fields, divorced from sight gags and props, ""might possibly be the funniest man America has ever produced"" and in his dissection of the 42 available films Fields appeared in, he at least proves that the comedian was at least one of the most interesting talents of that early Hollywood heyday. His notorious personal antipathies which included bankers, policemen and the American Family, coupled with his bizarre sense of humor, combined to inspire some unforgettable comic moments. You might say that Fields was the first black humorist. The author gives meticulous recaps of his work and manages some astute comparisons with Fields' contemporaries: Chaplin, Lloyd, Langdon, etc. W.C. may never share the same LimeLight as Chaplin but for fans this is a Fields' day.