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The Wicked Wit of the West: The Last Great Golden-Age Screenwriter Shares the Hilarity and Heartaches of Working With Groucho, Garland, Gleason, Burns, Berle, Benny and Many More (Anglais) Broché – 17 janvier 2009


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8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Funny Memoir from a Very Funny Jokester 27 février 2009
Par Rob Hardy - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Groucho Marx and S. J. Perelman both agreed: the fastest quippers, the best wits able to come back with "one line impromptus" were George S. Kaufman, Oscar Levant, and Irving Brecher. Irving Who? Brecher was behind the camera or behind a typewriter most of the time, but the subtitle of his memoir will tell you that he had connections: _The Wicked Wit of the West: The Last Great Golden-Age Screenwriter Shares the Hilarity and Heartaches of Working with Groucho, Garland, Gleason, Burns, Berle, Benny, & Many More_. The book is by Brecher "as told to Hank Rosenfeld", and for once the collaboration seems genuine and meaningful. Rosenfeld is himself a comedy writer, and he spent seven years hanging around the elderly Brecher, in plain hero worship. Much of the book is a transcription of their conversations, and it works well as a documentation of a friendship between two men who like bantering and kidding. It also includes some of Brecher's standup routines, but best of all, it has his stories of working and laughing with comic stars all through the twentieth century. Brecher died last November at 94, and didn't get to see the publication of the memoir he and Rosenfeld had been working on, but this merry book is one of the best last laughs you'll ever read. "So here it is," he says near the beginning of the book, "I'm saying it. I admit I am very funny. I don't like to quote myself, but unfortunately everybody I know who should be quoting me is dead. Fine friends they turned out to be."

Brecher was one of those Hollywood denizens that got his start the classic way, as an usher in New York City. As a teenager he would send in gags on postcards to columnists Walter Winchell or Ed Sullivan who would credit him by name. He got a long-term assignment of writing gags for one of the most visible comedians in the business, Milton Berle, and this material brought him to the attention of Hollywood. Brecher was astonished to be working with stars he used to see in the Nickelodeon when he was a kid, including his idols, the Marx Brothers. Brecher helped punch up _The Wizard of Oz_. And then he was assigned to write the Marx picture _At the Circus_; with that and with the later _Go West_, he was the only writer to get sole credit on Marx movies. There are wonderful stories about the Marxes here, anecdotes any fan will adore. Brecher went on to write movies like _Meet Me in St. Louis_ and _Bye Bye Birdie_. While writing movies, he also wrote the radio sitcom _The Life of Riley_.

Brecher became a widower from one long-term marriage and then entered another. He does not seem to have used his wit against his wives but rather as a palliative during arguments. He remembers an argument with his first wife who was so upset she said, "That's it! I'm leaving you!" He gave her the reply, "That's OK with me. But if you go, I'm going with you." Looking back at that bit of dialogue forty years later, he remarks, "It worked." Brecher never really left show business, though he pays tribute over and over again to the comics he worked with whose funerals he had to attend. He was attending tributes through his last years and doing stand-up when just standing up was difficult. In fact, he would get to the podium with a walker; his wife called it "The Rolls". Asthma was a problem, too: "For about ten minutes I'm all right. And then I'm gasping. You can't ask the public to spend money to see an old Jew gasping. It's not nice." But his material was still good: "Yes, I did have eye surgery. I knew I needed it when the other morning, I woke up and my vision was so bad, I couldn't find my hearing aid." _The Wicked Wit of the West_ (the title comes from a designation Groucho had given him) is full of wonderful stories and laugh-out-loud jokes from a jubilant joke-maker. "OK, so maybe I don't look at the world through rose-colored implants", the elder Brecher observes, "In fact, I really like the world. It's the putzes in it! And I don't resolve to change. If I've said anything snide, I'm sorry. Unless it gets a laugh."
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Autobiography of a Legendary Hollywood Wit! 11 février 2010
Par Michael OConnor - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Irving Brecher, who died in November 2008, had many claims to fame during his long career in vaudeville, radio, films and television. Beginning as a gag-writer for Berle and Henny Youngman, Brecher became a Hollywood script doctor/writer and director, sole writer of two Marx Brothers movies, Emmy winner for 'The Life of Riley,' and so on. Yet the most meaningful distinction Brecher earned was probably the fact that Groucho Marx, no slouch in the wit department, rated Brecher as one of the three wittiest men living, the other two being Oscar Levant and George Kaufman! Brecher, with the help of comedian/writer/storyteller Hank Rosenfeld, details his many lives and (comedy) crimes in this wonderful 2009 release from Ben Yehuda Press.

Brecher's book is more oral history than straight autobiography. Over a period of years, Rosenfeld taped his conversations/interviews with this marvelously funny man, resulting in THE WICKED WIT OF THE WEST. While there is some jumping-back-and-forth throughout the book, it is still a tremendously entertaining look back at American entertainment in the 20th Century. A wonderful, insightful and honest storyteller, Brecher takes the reader back to the Catskills, Broadway and Hollywood of long ago and shares stories of so many entertainers of note - Berle, Henny Youngman, Jack Benny, the Marx Brothers, Jackie Gleason, Judy Garland, Ernie Kovacs - and some lesser lights as well. While Brecher's tale is a fun read, it also gets high marks for supplying a behind-the-scenes, warts-and-all look at show biz on both coasts.

THE WICKED WIT OF THE WEST is required reading for all cinema buffs and anyone wanting to spend some hours being regaled by one of God's gifts to comedy. Recommended.
7 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
great look at some funny and culturally significant personalities 30 novembre 2009
Par Judson Nirenberg - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
The book is not only a an obvious work of love for Brecher, who comes right off the pages but is a great insider look at some of the most famous Hollywood personalities of the many decades when Brecher was writing. The anecdotes about work, travel and play with some of the 20th century's best known comedians can, on their own, make the reading worthwhile.

From the prejudices that Jews faced to the ways that different comedians and comics left their mark on today's film canon, this book packed in a lot of history before I stopped laughing and noticed the importance of the subject.

The book is a mixture of formats, including interviews/dialogues between the author and Brecher, who are both quick and funny.

Definitely get his book no matter whether you're looking for cinema studies, Judaica, American cultural studies or a light and funny read for the bathroom.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A MUST Read 29 mai 2009
Par Bookaholic - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
The choice is whether to read "The Wicked Wit of the West" quickly because it's such a page turner or to savor each chapter, each page. This book is a treasure trove of vaudeville, radio, film and television history, captured before it could be lost to us forever. The wit of Irving Brecher was incredible: creative, intelligent, and rapier sharp. How fortunate that Hank Rosenfeld was able to spend years capturing that wonderful wit along with the man and his memories so that it will not be lost to the rest of us.
Don't just sit there: order this book now and enjoy every bit of this rare opportunity to truly see behind the curtain.
5 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Laughed Out Loud - lost my balance 31 décembre 2008
Par Eric H. Roth - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
ROFL. Irving Brecher, a guy I never heard of before, comes alive - even though I read he just died. This tour de force of funny includes insider stories about Harpo, Groucho, Chico, Judy Garland, Jack Benny, and others. Written in a casual, engaging style, this hybrid memoir - part first person autobiography and part biography - "a freak" as Brecher puts it in the book - will satisfy comedy lovers.

Yet the delightful wordplay also shows that intelligence and creativity can overcome difficult life circumstances. Inspiring on multiple levels. God Bless you Mr. Rosenfeld (Rosewater). Note: Kurt Vonnegut would have loved this book!
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