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Original Essays | September 30, 2014

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Brandon Bartlett, the fictional mayor of Portland in my novel Sherwood Nation, is addicted to playing video games. In a city he's all but lost... Continue »
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1 Burnside Film and Television- Genres

Another Fine Mess: A History of American Film Comedy (Cappella Books)

by

Another Fine Mess: A History of American Film Comedy (Cappella Books) Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From City Lights to Knocked Up, this history examines American film from the perspective of its unwanted stepbrother, the comedy, and puts the comic titans of the present in the context of their predecessors. The 30 chapters and 100 essays follow the connections that link Mae West to Marilyn Monroe and W. C. Fields to Will Ferrell. Offering unvarnished insight into comedians and directors such as Buster Keaton, Christopher Guest, Eddie Murphy, and Ben Stiller, this eye-opening, entertaining, and enlightening tour encompasses the masterpieces, the box-office smashes, and all the little-known gems in between. Laurel and Hardy, Marilyn Monroe, Peter Sellers, Mel Brooks, Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, and the Coen Brothers are among others profiled, while a list of the top-100 American film comedies is also included.

Charlie Chaplin. Buster Keaton. The Marx Brothers. Billy Wilder. Woody Allen. The Coen brothers. Where would the American film be without them? Yet the cinematic genre these artists represent--comedy--has perennially received short shrift from critics, film buffs, and the Academy Awards. 

 

Saul Austerlitzs Another Fine Mess is an attempt to right that wrong. Running the gamut of film history from City Lights to Knocked Up, Another Fine Mess retells the story of American film from the perspective of its unwanted stepbrother--the comedy. In 30 long chapters and 100 shorter entries, each devoted primarily to a single performer or director, Another Fine Mess retraces the steps of the American comedy film, filling in the gaps and following the connections that link Mae West to Doris Day, or W. C. Fields to Will Ferrell. The first book of its kind in more than a generation, Another Fine Mess is an eye-opening, entertaining, and enlightening tour of the American comedy, encompassing the masterpieces, the box-office smashes, and all the little-known gems in between.

Review:

"American film comedy is barely a century old and already commentary on it can fill bookshelves, with countless pages devoted to the evolution of physical comedy, the influence of notable comedians like Charlie Chaplin, and the effects of technology on the form. Austerlitz touches on all of these things, but his objective is to provide a chronological set of biographies of the most important figures, both major (the top 30) and minor (over 100 more), and comment on their achievements and influence. The result is a comprehensive textbook that traces a legitimate line of succession from Chaplin to Apatow. Clearly Austerlitz has great affection for and knowledge of his subject; he can comment with equal skill on Renee Zellweger and W.C. Fields. Still, his take on the century is not without bias. Never less than candid ('Mel Brooks is overrated'), his tastes are also present in what he leaves out (Hal Ashby, Hal Hartley, and Cameron Crowe are all missing). Though readers will surely disagree with some of his choices, the breadth of material Austerlitz has compiled here is a feat. Photos.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved." Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)

Synopsis:

Charlie Chaplin. Buster Keaton. The Marx Brothers. Billy Wilder. Woody Allen. The Coen brothers. Where would the American film be without them? Yet the cinematic genre these artists represent--comedy--has perennially received short shrift from critics, film buffs, and the Academy Awards. 

 

Saul Austerlitzs Another Fine Mess is an attempt to right that wrong. Running the gamut of film history from City Lights to Knocked Up, Another Fine Mess retells the story of American film from the perspective of its unwanted stepbrother--the comedy. In 30 long chapters and 100 shorter entries, each devoted primarily to a single performer or director, Another Fine Mess retraces the steps of the American comedy film, filling in the gaps and following the connections that link Mae West to Doris Day, or W. C. Fields to Will Ferrell. The first book of its kind in more than a generation, Another Fine Mess is an eye-opening, entertaining, and enlightening tour of the American comedy, encompassing the masterpieces, the box-office smashes, and all the little-known gems in between.

About the Author

Saul Austerlitz is a writer living in New York City.  His work has been published in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Slate, the Boston Globe, and other publications.  He is the author of Money for Nothing: A History of the Music Video from the Beatles to the White Stripes.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781556529511
Author:
Austerlitz, Saul
Publisher:
Chicago Review Press
Subject:
Film & Video - History & Criticism
Subject:
Film & Video - Guides & Reviews
Subject:
Film - History & Criticism
Subject:
Film and Television-History and Criticism
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Series:
Cappella Books
Publication Date:
20100931
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
528
Dimensions:
9.00 x 6.00 in

Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Drama » Acting
Arts and Entertainment » Film and Television » Film Guides
Arts and Entertainment » Film and Television » General
Arts and Entertainment » Film and Television » Genres
Arts and Entertainment » Film and Television » History and Criticism
Arts and Entertainment » Humor » Comedy Business and Criticism

Another Fine Mess: A History of American Film Comedy (Cappella Books) Used Trade Paper
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Product details 528 pages Chicago Review Press - English 9781556529511 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "American film comedy is barely a century old and already commentary on it can fill bookshelves, with countless pages devoted to the evolution of physical comedy, the influence of notable comedians like Charlie Chaplin, and the effects of technology on the form. Austerlitz touches on all of these things, but his objective is to provide a chronological set of biographies of the most important figures, both major (the top 30) and minor (over 100 more), and comment on their achievements and influence. The result is a comprehensive textbook that traces a legitimate line of succession from Chaplin to Apatow. Clearly Austerlitz has great affection for and knowledge of his subject; he can comment with equal skill on Renee Zellweger and W.C. Fields. Still, his take on the century is not without bias. Never less than candid ('Mel Brooks is overrated'), his tastes are also present in what he leaves out (Hal Ashby, Hal Hartley, and Cameron Crowe are all missing). Though readers will surely disagree with some of his choices, the breadth of material Austerlitz has compiled here is a feat. Photos.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved." Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Synopsis" by ,

Charlie Chaplin. Buster Keaton. The Marx Brothers. Billy Wilder. Woody Allen. The Coen brothers. Where would the American film be without them? Yet the cinematic genre these artists represent--comedy--has perennially received short shrift from critics, film buffs, and the Academy Awards. 

 

Saul Austerlitzs Another Fine Mess is an attempt to right that wrong. Running the gamut of film history from City Lights to Knocked Up, Another Fine Mess retells the story of American film from the perspective of its unwanted stepbrother--the comedy. In 30 long chapters and 100 shorter entries, each devoted primarily to a single performer or director, Another Fine Mess retraces the steps of the American comedy film, filling in the gaps and following the connections that link Mae West to Doris Day, or W. C. Fields to Will Ferrell. The first book of its kind in more than a generation, Another Fine Mess is an eye-opening, entertaining, and enlightening tour of the American comedy, encompassing the masterpieces, the box-office smashes, and all the little-known gems in between.

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