May 16, 2009
The Wicked Wit Of The West, A Must-Read - Canyon News
Tommy Garrett reviews Wicked Wit for The Canyon News of Santa Monica
SANTA MONICA--From the publisher's own words, you know that this book is something that has to be read and absorbed: "Irv Brecher convinced Judy Garland to star in Meet Me in St. Louis, wrote Bye Bye Birdie and gave Jackie Gleason his first TV series and a new set of teeth. 'The Wicked Wit of the West' (as Groucho Marx dubbed him) tells juicy tales about Hollywood legends John Wayne, Louis B. Mayer, Jack Benny, George Burns, Ann-Margaret, Ernie Kovacs, Cleo the basset hound and of course, Grouch, Harpo and Chico. At the age of 94, Irving Brecher was still making us laugh. Though Brecher died last year before this book was published, author Hank Rosenfeld who lives in Santa Monica managed to get this wonderful tome published and is making fans and readers laugh at book signings all over Southern California." But don't just take the publisher's word for this book. Pick up a copy of this entertaining yet informative book that is filled with photographs, once private memos and even the Brecher's own notes on some of Hollywood's biggest stars.
But all that hype is not without just cause. The book chronicles what made Brecher such an icon, not just at MGM but throughout his career in Hollywood. Brecher is best known for creating "The Life of Riley," on radio, in the movies and as the very first sitcom for television. There is no surprise to the reader how much Hank Rosenfeld admired his subject, but what you find out in this book is how he continued to press Brecher and questioned him extensively in order to complete this tome.
When you read "The Wicked Wit of the West," be prepared for a handkerchief and plenty of laughs. Crying was something I hadn't done a lot of lately, but crying tears of joy and laughter was synonymous with reading this hilarious yet affectionate book. Brecher was the last of the great funnymen who made fun of himself as much as he did others. Never mean spirited, he was however from a distant era of our nation. When times were tough and people had to either laugh or cry. Brecher felt both were necessary but that tears from laughter rather than sorrow would be more positive for our world. His brand of humor has never been duplicated since.
What I found amazing about this story is all of us Hollywood historians knew of the wonderful infectious wit and humor of Irv Brecher, but we now can add Hank Rosenfeld to the list of great scribes who never cease to humor us with great detail. This book is not like most chronicles of "As Told To" stories. It's filled with the wisdom, talent and humor of two great men in Hollywood, Irv Brecher is a given. Hank Rosenfeld should be added to the list of Hollywood historians who contribute great literature in our industry.
This book is a must read and should be in every film class across America.