Item description for Kaufman and Co.: Broadway Comedies (Library of America) by George S. Kaufman, Edna Ferber, Moss Hart, Ring Lardner & Morrie Ryskind...
Overview Collects plays written by George Kaufman in collaboration with other writers, including "Dinner at Eight," "Animal Crackers," "Stage Door," and "You Can't Take It With You."
Publishers Description Here, in the most comprehensive collection of George S. Kaufman's plays ever assembled, are nine classics: his "backstage" play The Royal Family (1927, written with Edna Ferber); the Marx Brothers-inspired mayhem of Animal Crackers (1928, with Morrie Ryskind), in a version discovered in Groucho Marx's papers and published here for the first time; June Moon (1929, with Ring Lardner), a hilarious look at a young composer trying to make it big on Tin Pan Alley; Once in a Lifetime (1930, with Moss Hart), one of the first and best satires of Hollywood; Pulitzer Prize winners Of Thee I Sing (1931, with Morrie Ryskind and Ira Gershwin) and You Can't Take It With You (1936, with Moss Hart); Dinner at Eight (1932, with Edna Ferber), a tart ensemble piece that mixes comedy and melodrama; Stage Door (1936, with Edna Ferber), his much-loved story about young actresses trying to make it big in New York City; and The Man Who Came to Dinner (1939, with Moss Hart), an unforgettable burlesque of America's cult of celebrity.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1.25" Width: 5.25" Height: 8.25" Weight: 0.95 lbs.
Publisher Library of America
ISBN 1931082677 ISBN13 9781931082679
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More About George S. Kaufman, Edna Ferber, Moss Hart, Ring Lardner & Morrie Ryskind
George S. Kaufman was born in 1889 and died in 1961.
Reviews - What do customers think about Kaufman and Co.: Broadway Comedies (Library of America)?
A most fascinating anthology Apr 1, 2008
First off, whatever the Library of America says, these aren't all "comedies"; three are smelly mellerdrammers. More on them later. But first to the comedies, and the most mirthful of the bunch is clearly "Animal Crackers." Just whose laughs are Kaufman's and Ryskind's and whose are Groucho's we will never know; and alas, we will never know just how much the incalculable ad-libs added, not least from the speechless Harpo. What survives is funny-bone-tickling enough. Captain Spaulding's seduction of Mrs. Rittenhouse and Mrs. Whitehead is one of the greatest in literature (yes I mean that).
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.
Broadway's Best Jul 12, 2007
A collection of Kaufman's zingiest plays, written with, among others, Moss Hart, Edna Ferber, Morrie Ryskind, including the first musical book to win a Pulitzer Prize, Of Thee I Sing, and the Marx Brothers hit, Animal Crackers. The only significant omission is the lack of character breakdowns for the plays included, but that's more than made up for by an excellent compendium of biographical and production chronology included at the end of the book. Recommended highly.
Very Interesting Collection Feb 15, 2005
The this site page currently features Michael Dirda's review of this volume, which basically disses all of the plays except those written with Moss Hart. That review somewhat misses the mark.
There are several good plays here. Certainly the 2 best plays are "The Man Who Came to Dinner" and "You Can't Take It With You". But "Stage Door" and "Dinner at Eight" are not far behind. (Beware the movie versions of these two: they differ substantially from the written plays. Also an earlier review claims there are movies of all the plays, but I'm not aware of a film version of "Once in a Lifetime"). The script of "Animal Cracker" is amazing for how close it is to the movie version... all these years I assumed Groucho made up a lot of his lines, but here they all are, in black and white.
The real clunker here, and it's a surprise, is the Pulitzer Prize Winning "Of Thee I Sing". There's a reason why, even with a script by Kaufman and songs by the Gershwins, this is never revived... it's a stinker through and through.
The Best of George Kaufman's Broadway Comedies Oct 25, 2004
The Library of America has done another outstanding effort in pulling together nine of George Kaufman's comedy collabrations from Broadway's Golden Era. Excluding "Once In A Lifetime", all of his plays were made into movies by Hollywood (with "You Can't Take It With You" winning the Oscar for Best Picture in 1938).
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.