- Copertina rigida: 911 pagine
- Editore: Library of America; New. edizione (16 ottobre 2014)
- Collana: Library of America
- Lingua: Inglese
- ISBN-10: 1931082677
- ISBN-13: 978-1931082679
- Peso di spedizione: 581 g
- Posizione nella classifica Bestseller di Amazon:
Kaufman & Co.: Broadway Comedies (Inglese) Copertina rigida – 16 ott 2014
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Next down the line is "The Man who Came to Dinner", and while it exaggerates it to say you need a Cliffs Notes to understand all the topical references, it helps; but if you do know what Sheridan Whiteside's talking about it's still pretty rollicking stuff. Further down is "You Can't Take It With You", celebrated not so much for its humor as for being a true ensemble piece, as more than one writer has said, the sitcom of sitcoms, and one must see the production and its myriad interactions onstage to behold its true warmth. Then comes "Once in a Lifetime", whose considerable wit is vastly overshadowed by its surrealistic and preposterous ending, which only someone who took himself very seriously in film like Sergei Eisenstein could have mistaken for real life.
Dismissing "Of Thee I Sing", rank after 76 years (and even sooner), and "June Moon," which vanishes on the printed page (and ignoring one of the mellerdrammers, "The Royal Family", which is regally dull), we turn to a play magnetic and fusty, "Dinner at Eight." It's clear what attracted MGM to it; it's a chance for prima-donnas of the highest order to parade their peacock feathers; indeed the potential star power vastly outshines the words (although of the original stage cast the only names known today are Cesar Romero and Sam Levene, he of "Guys and Dolls"). It becomes patently obvious after a few readings that every character has a carefully crafted fault, though not so faulty as Kaufman and Ferber. Is the whole point to prove what passes for society is a bunch of phonies? Point taken -- and taken and taken. Not the only point taken; in III.ii, where the once mighty screen star Larry Renault "humiliates" himself into losing a small part in some Broadway hackery, our authors shed whatever humor they had so they could make a scene; a producer who could laugh would see the potential for self-mockery, even parody, in Renault, supposedly based on the man who played him on film, John Barrymore. But no, the writers had to have their grand exit. By the way, did the Hotel Versailles stay in business?
And then there is "Stage Door". Aside from being played at a constant high pitch and having a producer type in Kingsley who is too saintly for show-biz (or anything else) this work centers on a laughable and even outrageous notion: that not only is the thea-TAH inherently noble, but that anyone who'd work in films is a. a sell-out or b. untalented. We will not dare to guess how many cinematic hack works Mr. Kaufman and his collaborators inspired. We do know the budding ingenue Jean is untalented because everyone says so; but if she's so untalented how did she make it into "Stage Door"? At times we're not watching a drama but hearing a lecture, and we're at the butt-end of it.
If Kaufman's collaborations don't provide the inspiriting experience of, say, the two volumes of Lincoln's collected writings they nevertheless combine into a respectable diversion, and a reminder of what the Great White Way was like before it became Branson East.
Since Mr. Kaufman's humor is firmly rooted in the era of the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression for these plays, a little historical knowledge of that period goes a long way in enjoying them. The explanatory notes at the conclusion of this collection clarifies the numerous topical references within each play.
This volume is best read one play at a time (usually less than a 100 pages per play) and then the reader can enjoy the film production of the play. The quality of his writing can be seen by the actors/actresses drawn to portray his characters in the movies: James Stewart, Jean Harlow, Kate Hepburn, Frederic March, Betty Davis, Lionel Barrymore and so many more. Mr. Kaufman's comedies are no more dated than the plays by William Shakespeare.