Quinlan, the author of Quinlan's Illustrated Registry of Film Stars (Holt, 1991) and The Illustrated Directory of Film Stars ( LJ 3/15/82), intends this to serve as a standard biographical reference source on North American and Western European film comedians from the late sound era through the early 1990s. Unfortunately, the book has serious limitations and strange idiosyncrasies. The volume recapitulates a great deal of information found in sources such as Halliwell's Filmgoer's Companion (HarperCollins, 1993. 10th ed.) and The Film Encyclopedia (HarperCollins, 1979) . Quinlan follows his own partisan interests and tastes in his commentary and in selecting which performers to include. Why write a detailed essay, for instance, on Dean Jones (whom Quinlan calls ``Hollywood's best light comedian since Cary Grant'') and totally omit Robert Morley? Quinlan also expends inordinate attention on British music hall comics with marginal film careers, which won't interest most American readers. A marginal purchase.-- Anne Sharp, Ypsilanti Dist. Lib., Mich.
Film historian and critic Quinlan has produced a biographical directory of almost 300 British and American film comedians. The personal profiles and career summations cover such stars from the silent era as Mabel Normand and Walter Forde and continue through such current performers as Whoopi Goldberg and Eric Idle. The accompanying filmographies list both shorts and features and include films released through 1992
The entries range from a few paragraphs to a couple of pages in length and are much more detailed than those found in "Who Was Who on Screen" (1977), "The Encyclopedia of Film" (Perigee, 1991), or any of the Halliwell directories. The entries include the author's critique of individual films and discussion of each artist's influence on the field of comedy and are similar in style to the essays found in "A Biographical Dictionary of Film" (1981). All the entries include a black-and-white portrait of the individual. Additional photographs include movie stills and publicity shots. The entries are arranged alphabetically. There are no indexes--for film titles or characters, for example--that would aid research
This directory includes many obscure comedians often ignored in other standard sources and provides insights into the comic works of actors better known for dramatic roles, such as Alec Guinness. Another positive feature is the inclusion of both American and British personalities in the same volume. Public and academic libraries with strong film collections will want to consider purchasing this new title.
Zestily and affectionately written profiles of some 300 comedy stars are accompanied by nice, clear 2x2" head shots, include complete filmographies, and are further enhanced by a generous number of movie stills. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)