lamdha books -
Catalogue of books on classic clowns

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Bellos, David
Jacques Tati
Harvill Press, London, 1999.
Hardcover, octavo; 382pp., monochrome illustrations. A few faint spots on upper text block edges. Scraping on head of dustwrapper spine and upper rear corner. Minor wear otherwise; very good to near fine and professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. "From now on no celebration, no artistic or acrobatic spectacle can do without this amazing performer, who has invented something quite his own...His act is partly ballet and partly sport, partly satire and partly charade. He has devised a way of being both the player, the ball and the tennis racquet, of being simultaneously the football and the goalkeeper, the boxer and the opponent, the bicycle and the cyclist. Without any props, he conjures up his accessories and his partners. He has suggestive powers of all great artists," wrote Colette in 1936 reviewing a music-hall performance. Bellos charts Tati's career from his first success with "Jour de Fete" and "M. Hulot's Holiday", through the financial disaster of "Playtime" that left him bankrupt, to his swansong in "Trafic" and "Parade".
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Blesh, Rudi
Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd., London, 1967.
First UK edition. Octavo; hardcover, full cloth with gilt spine titles; 395pp., with many monochrome illustrations. Moderate wear; somewhat cocked; spine extremities softened; board edges lightly rubbed; text block edges toned and lightly spotted; mild offset to the preliminaries; retailer's bookplate to the front pastedown; flyleaf clipped; previous owner's name in ink to the flyleaf. Dustwrapper is rubbed and edgeworn with old tape stains to the verso; light chipping to the edges; a few small tears to the spine panel; now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Good to very good. Written with Keaton's collaboration, the detailed chapters on his growing-up on the vaudeville stage as part of the famous Three Keatons are suffused with an extraordinary warmth. The making of his silent classics is covered in equal depth.
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Blount Jr., Roy
Hail, Hail, Euphoria! Presenting the Marx Brothers in "Duck Soup", the greatest war movie ever made
itbooks/HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY, USA, 2010.
Hardcover, octavo, 144pp, monochrome plates. Dustwrapper. Remainder. New. 'Unlike their earlier Paramount films, "Duck Soup" is devoid of romantic subplots or, for that matter, of any real plotline at all, save for the foundering of the bankrupt kingdom of Freedonia in a senseless, and quite conceivably endless, Groucho-led war. Yet "Duck Soup" is the film Harold Bloom, in an essay on the 20th-century American sublime, called one of the great works of art of the past century. It's one of the movies T. S. Eliot wanted to discuss when he met with Groucho in 1964, and the one that inspired Woody Allen's character in "Hannah and Her Sisters" not to go home and shoot himself. Humorist Roy Blount Jr. takes on "Duck Soup", not as a film critic or as a culture pundit or even as a comedy writer, but as a passionate amateur fan. To call this 144-page essay informal would be a Groucho-esque understatement. Blount, by his own admission, opens up the movie in a window on his computer and, in essence, live blogs it, free-associating in the raggedly discursive style proper to that form. Blount is no more bothered by the Aristotelian unities of time, place and action than were the brothers themselves. An eagle-shaped logo that appears on screen for a few seconds before the movie begins - the symbol of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's National Recovery Administration - gets four pages, while whole scenes from the film rush by in a quick sentence or two. Folksy, warm and up on his Marx lore - he seems not only to have seen every one of the brothers' movies, but to have read early drafts of every script. Blount makes for swell company.' - Dana Stevens
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Carpenter, Humphrey
Spike Milligan The Biography
Hodder & Stoughton, London, 2003.
First edition. Hardcover, octavo, (xi, 435pp)., monochrome plates. Minor wear; a few faint scattered spots on text block edges; mild rubbing and wear to dustwrapper edges. Very good to near fine and professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. 'Some years back, Humphrey Carpenter made merry with an account I provided of the Marx brothers, declaring that the Marx brothers "don't need a biography" - comedians should be left to speak for themselves. None more so, one might have thought, than Spike Milligan, who has committed seven volumes of his own reminiscences to print, as well as more than 50 other books. There have also been several previous biographies of Britain's chief Goon and master of misrule, so why another? Well, you can't get enough of a good thing. His appeal is, I am afraid, something of a male thing, though some women did "get it", most prominently, Spike's three wives, who had to balance the days of wit and laughter with the nights, and days, of dread melancholy, depressed silence and a locked door, with occasional telegrams emanating room to room, beseeching: "Please send up some tea." Milligan always fretted at the description of himself as a "tortured genius", but he was certainly tormented, throughout his creative life, by a manic-depressive condition, which took him in and out of treatment, though, as Carpenter attempts to follow the twisted skein, he ruefully concludes that some spells in Gestapo-like asylums might have been made up. Research, in this case, consists of following the paper trail of scripts and BBC arcana, and the oral trail of old mates, male and female, spiced up with an extended talk with mother and son of one of Spike's long-concealed extra-marital affairs. ...He was, in a way, the total comedian, the one who understands how deeply absurd his own endeavours are. As Carpenter writes: "He could make anyone laugh except himself." It was this, I think, that constituted his greatest strength, the fact that he knew no borders in comedy, and spewed out, in his manic moments - and they were as many and prolonged as his depressions - endless screeds of gags, jokes, mad characterisations and impossible plots. Perhaps this also explains the resistance of many women to his humour - do women tend to find the idea that the world is chaos and society full of insane maniacs threatening rather than funny, more so than men?...The American comics had the mighty machine of Hollywood to spread their message. Spike had John Snagge and the crazy guys who made bumps and squeaks with spoons and egg-beaters in BBC basements. But I would still like to see a rerun of the infamous "Q" series: Milligan as "Mrs Rita Goldberg of Golders Green playing a cash register while wearing a large plastic nose"...' - Simon Louvish
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Chandler, Charlotte
Hello, I Must Be Going: Groucho & His Friends
Doubleday, New York, 1978.
First US edition. Octavo hardcover; quarter bound papered boards with black cloth spine and gilt spine titling and gilt upper board writing; 568pp., monochrome plates, untrimmed page edges. Owner's bookplate. Minor wear; offsetting to endpapers; light browning and spotting to text block edges. Illustrated white dustwrapper with browning along spine, tiny tear on upper rear edge and some chipping and wear to edges. Very good with wrapper now protected in archival film and white paper backing. This biography was written towards the end of Groucho's life (and published after his death), and chronicles many interviews between Chandler and Groucho. When asked for an interview, Groucho declined; however he invited Charlotte to his house so he could tell her no in person. After several hours of conversation Groucho asked "Why aren't you writing?" Anecdotes and stories of Groucho's life and career as a star of stage and screen are hilariously told by his contemporaries and lifelong friends. Stories from Groucho's life from the beginning of the 20th Century conjure up a picture of great poverty and great wealth and give the reader an insight to the phenomenon that was the Marx Brothers and an understanding of their individual relationships with colleagues and friends, and with one another. In addition to the "old timers" there are interviews and comment from Woody Allen, Bill Cosby and Jack Nicholson to name but a few.
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Dardis, Tom
Keaton The Man Who Wouldn't Lie Down
Charles Scribner's Sons, New York NY, 1979.
First edition. Octavo; hardcover, quarter-bound in cloth with gilt spine titles; 340pp., with many monochrome illustrations. Mild wear; text block edges lightly spotted; light spotting to the preliminaries. Dustwrapper is rubbed and edgeworn; now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Very good. The best overall biography and admirably objective.
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Dardis, Tom
Keaton The Man Who Wouldn't Lie Down
Virgin Books/W.H. Allen & Co. Plc., London, 1989.
Octavo; paperback; 340pp., with many monochrome illustrations. Mild wear; covers rubbed. Very good. "...the definitive life. I don't think it will ever be superseded ... It is scholarly yet readable, the fullest, most objective and factually detailed book on virtually every aspect of Buster's career and personality: artistic, financial, and psychological... full of the most interesting (and surprising) information." - Dwight MacDonald, The New York Review of Books. "A candid yet compassionate account of Keaton's turbulent personal life... reveals the roots of his humanity... his pessimism... his superb spirit of comic gloom..." - Boston Globe.
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Farnes, Norma
Spike An Intimate Memoir
Fourth Estate/HarperCollins Publishers, London, 2003.
First edition: octavo; hardcover, with gilt spine titles and decorative endpapers; 366pp., with a monochrome portrait frontispiece and 25pp. of plates likewise. Mild wear; text block edges well toned. Dustwrapper rubbed and edgeworn; now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Very good.
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Farnes, Norma (ed.)
The Goons: The Story
Virgin Books, London, 1997.
Hardcover, quarto, 192pp., monochrome illustrations. Minor wear; faint spotting to text block edges and mild wear to dustwrapper edges. Very good to near fine and wrapper now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Unique collection of Milligan personal memorabilia and photographs, along with contributions from Secombe, Eric Sykes, and a select band of Goons aficionados.
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Fields, W.C. (Ronald J. Fields, commentary)
W.C. Fields by Himself His Intended Autobiography with Hitherto Unpublished Letters, Notes, Scripts and Articles
W.H. Allen, London, 1974.
First UK edition: octavo; hardcover, with gilt spine-titling and decorated endpapers; 510pp., with a full-colour frontispiece and 84 monochrome plates. Previous owner's ink inscription on half-title page; mild offset to the endpapers; text block edges heavily spotted; boards discoloured at edges. Dustwrapper scuffed, creased/frayed at edges, with tape repair to upper spine panel; now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Good. A commendably modest portrayal of W.C.Fields created by his grandson from his grandfather's letters, writings, and thoughts, with a short introduction and commentary. Without the sensationalist padding of dubious anecdotes, this is the autobiography that Fields might have written.
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Hugill, Beryl
Bring on the Clowns
Chartwell Books Inc./Book Sales Inc., Secaucus NJ, 1980.
Quarto; hardcover, with gilt spine titles; 224pp., with many full-colour and monochrome illustrations. Minor wear; light toning to the text block edges. Dustwrapper now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Very good to near fine. Down the ages clowns have captured the laughter of adult and child alike with their absurd dress, bizarre antics and a brand of humour whose universality has stood the test of centuries. In this extensive study of clowns and clowning, Beryl Hugill draws the parallels between ancient and modern clowns and traces the story of clowning from its origins in the ancient world of Egypt, China and India, through the padded buffoons of Greek drama and the dwarfed and deformed figures that populated royal households, to the era of court jesters, and describes their function and role in society and the form of their entertainment. Here in one major performance are all the world's clowns - carpet and run-in clowns of the circuses, the splendidly dressed white-faced clowns, the hobo clowns; Beryl Hugill reveals the secrets of their techniques, tells why they use the dress, make-up and props they do, and describes the great individual acts of the international world of clowns.
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Keaton, Buster, with Charles Samuels (Introduction by Dilys Powell)
My Wonderful World of Slapstick
George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1967.
First UK edition: octavo; hardcover, with upper board decoration; 282pp., top edges dyed grey, with 16pp. of monochrome plates. Mild wear; a little shaken; spine head softened; text block edges lightly spotted; offset to the endpapers; previous owner's name in ink to the flyleaf. Price-clipped dustwrapper lightly rubbed and edgeworn; spine panel sunned with chipping to the extremities; now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Very good. Keaton's own reminiscences on his life and career. He takes pleasure in recounting how his films came to be made, how the gags were constructed, but otherwise leaves his marvellous comedies to speak for themselves...
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Kington, Miles
British Comedy Greats
Cassell, London, 2003.
Small quarto hardcover, 191pp., colour and monochrome illustrations. Faint spotting to upper text block edges and slight edgewear to dustwrapper. Very good to near fine and professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. This fascinating book is a roll-call of some of the iconic acts, shows and writers that make up the illustrious history of comedy on stage, screen and radio in the British Isles. In a series of beautifully illustrated essays, some of Britain's leading writers take a lively, personal and often provocative look at Britain's greatest comedic achievements and at some of the unforgettable people who helped to create them. From Flanders and Swann to "The Goon Show", it covers the extraordinary range of acts who have split our sides with surgical precision.
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McCabe, John
Laurel & Hardy: The Official Record of the Greatest Comedy Team in Movie History
Ballantine Books, New York, 1976.
Quarto paperback; 400pp., monochrome illustration. Mild scattered spotting on half-title page; lightly toned text block edges. Wear and minor scraping to cover edges with small punch hole to upper front corner. Very good.
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Milligan, Spike
Adolf Hitler - signed My Part in His Downfall
Michael Joseph Classic Collection/Michael Joseph Ltd., London, 1986.
Octavo; hardcover, with gilt spine-titling and decorative endpapers; 146pp., top edges dyed red, with many monochrome illustrations. Minor wear; signed by the author in ink to the title page (with mild offset). Dustwrapper a little edgeworn; now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Very good.
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Milligan, Spike
The Lost Goon Shows - signed "Operation Christmas Duff"; "The Internal Mountain"; "The Silent Bugler"; "The Dreaded Piano Clubber"; "The Siege of Fort Knight"; & "The Tree Maniac"
Robson Books Ltd., London, 1987.
Octavo; hardcover, with illustrated boards; 160pp., with many monochrome illustrations. Minor wear; boards a little rubbed with some bumps and spine extremities softened; signed by the author in ink to the title page (with minor offset). No dustwrapper. Very good.
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Milligan, Spike and Anthony Clare
Depression and How to Survive It
Ebury Press, London, 1993.
Reprint. Octavo hardcover; black boards with gilt spine titling; 213pp. Spotting to upper text block edge. Very good to near fine in like dustwrapper now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. In 1982, leading psychiatrist and TV presenter Anthony Clare interviewed Spike Milligan for the radio series In The Psychiatrist's Chair, a show in which Clare led revealing interviews with a range of celebrities. He was so overwhelmed by Milligan's account of his forty years of depressive experiences that he knew he had found the person to help him illuminate and explore the mysterious and sometimes terrifying illness that is clinical depression. Depression and How to Survive It is the result of this collaboration, through which Anthony Clare charts the development of Spike Milligan's illness and the strategies he uses in dealing with the often misunderstood disorder of clinical depression. Drawing inspiration and advice from Spike's experience, Depression and How to Survive It is a book which takes you to the depths of human unhappiness in order to show you the way towards leading a happy life. A unique book about human psychology from one of Britain's most successful psychiatrists, providing a revelatory insight into the mind of Spike Milligan, everyone's favourite goon.
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Mitchell, Glenn
The Chaplin Encyclopedia
Batsford, London, 1997.
Small quarto paperback, 288pp, monochrome illustrations. Minor wear. Very good. During Charlie Chaplin's 50-year film career he made over 90 movies. This book is a comprehensive A-Z detailing Chaplin's entire movie career, including lesser-known foreign-distributed versions of Chaplin's films. Extraordinarily detailed and filled with fascinating black & white photographs, a treasure trove for the Chaplin fanatic.
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Robinson, David
Buster Keaton
Cinema One, London, 1973.
Octavo paperback; 198pp., b&w illustrations. A few spots to early pages and browning to cover verso edges; first page removed; toned and spotted text block edges; rubbing to covers, scraping and creasing to edges; creased spine. Good to very good.
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Robinson, David
Chaplin His Life and Art
McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York NY, 1985.
First edition. Octavo; hardcover, quarter-bound in cloth with gilt spine titles and decorations; 792pp., with many monochrome illustrations and 74pp. of plates likewise. Moderate wear; mildly shaken and rolled; spine extremities softened; light toning and spotting to the text block edges. Dustwrapper lightly rubbed and edgeworn; now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Very good. David Robinson's definitive and monumental biography of Charlie Chaplin, the greatest icon in the history of cinema, who lived one of the most dramatic rags to riches stories ever told. Chaplin's life was marked by extraordinary contrasts: the child of London slums who became a multimillionaire; the on-screen clown who was a driven perfectionist behind the camera; the adulated star who publicly fell from grace after personal and political scandal. This engrossing and definitive work, written with full access to Chaplin's archives, tells the whole story of a brilliant, complex man.
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Scagnetti, Jack
The Laurel & Hardy Scrapbook
Jonathan David Publishers Inc., New York, 1976.
Quarto; hardcover, with gilt spine-titling; 131pp., with 29pp. of monochrome photographic plates and many illustrations likewise. Minor wear; text block edges toned and spotted. Dustwrapper is lightly rubbed and mildly sunned along the spine; some minor edgewear with a small tear at the spine panel head; now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Very good. Laid in a publicity photograph of the duo. The plot was always the same: Laurel and Hardy were two nice people, who would never accomplish anything because they were both so dumb. But they were unaware that they were dumb. It was this endearing naivete - this lack of awareness, more than their stupidity that attracted fans and made them stars. The simplicity of their slapstick gags, and the dignity and good taste which they always maintained, disarmed audiences world wide. The situations in which they became involved reminded viewers of their own lives. They laughed at Laurel and Hardy, but they were also laughing at themselves. Today Laurel and Hardy are recognized as masters of the comedic art. Ironically, in their prime, they were largely ignored by the critics. They were not considered to be in the same league as the great artists of the day who included Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and the Marx Brothers. And yet today decades after the creation of their last regular series of comedy films, film critics agree that the twenties and thirties would not have been the same without the madcap antics of Laurel and Hardy. They all now agree that the duo made a contribution to screen comedy that was both important and unique.
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Schickel, Richard
Harold Lloyd: The Shape of Laughter
New York Graphic Society, Boston, 1974.
Quarto hardcover; red cloth boards with black spine titling and front lower board subject's name, red endpapers; 218pp., monochrome illustrations. Minor wear; very faint spotting to upper text block edges and tiny bump and creasing to head of dustwrapper spine. Very good to near fine with wrapper now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. "The best of the straight comedians," Stan Laurel said of Lloyd. Perhaps the funniest. No one knew better than he how to shape a gag, how to top it with one even funnier, how to mix laughter and thrills in a way that is excruciating as it is hilarious.
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Scudamore, Pauline
Spike Milligan A Biography
Granada Publishing Ltd., London, 1985.
First edition: octavo; hardcover; black boards with silver gilt spine titling; 318pp., with 16pp. of monochrome photographic plates. Minor wear; text block and page edges browned and spotted; offsetting to endpapers. Dustwrapper lightly spotted on the flaps and verso now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Good to very good. Milligan's first biographer was a longstanding family friend. Milligan allowed her complete and unfettered access to his files and correspondence, to his home and family, as well as talking to her over many, many hours. The result, which is augmented by interviews with scores of his friends and colleagues, is an exceptionally candid, perceptive and moving portrait.
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Taylor, Robert Lewis
W.C. Fields His follies and fortunes
Cassell & Company Ltd, London, 1950.
Hardcover, octavo, 282pp, monochrome plates. Edges, endpapers and title page spotted and tanned, otherwise a very good copy without dustwrapper. The life of W.C. Fields is a striking endorsement of Shakespeare's thought, "Sweet are the uses of adversity". There is no reason to believe that the Duke's philosophical utterance, in "As You Like It", was calculated to prepare the world for Fields, but a knowledge of Field's career would certainly have made things easier for the Duke. From infancy, Fields found life laborious sledding, and he took extraordinary measures to triumph over all. Few people absorbed such a buffeting as a child and emerged so relentlessly successful in after life. By the time of his death on Christmas Day, 1946, he was widely acknowledged to have become the greatest comic artist ever known. In his tempestuous youth, he had achieved comfortable billing as "the greatest juggler on earth", but the title irked him - he was determined to establish his mind on a parity with his hands. For ten years the theatre's best entrepreneurs assured him that he was a fine juggler and refused him parts in shows. The overwhelming unanimity of these rebuffs convinced Fields that he was a comedian; he had come far by rejecting the opinions of others. His perseverance and his evolution into the funniest man in the theatre, in the movies, and in radio, proved him right.
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Wilmut, Roger (Preface by Harry Secombe)
Tony Hancock, Artiste A Tony Hancock Companion
Methuen London Ltd., London, 1983.
Octavo; paperback; 270pp., with many monochrome illustrations. Moderate wear; spine scraped and creased; covers rubbed and edgeworn. Very good. Roger Wilmut has traced Hancock's rise to fame with the aid of many behind-the-scenes details which have never been published before. The book also contains hilarious extracts from many Hancock scripts, a detailed chronology of Hancock's entire professional career, including dates, titles, tape numbers, casts and plot synopses of all the 'half-hours'. An entertaining account of the work of a great comic.
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