Extract from Review of

"Ballyhoo", featuring W. C. Fields

Heywood Broun

Nation, January 7th, 1931

I feel that one of the high spots in the present theatrical year has been underlined in red because W. C. Fields is juggling again. I am of the opinion that in this diversion the man falls little short of genius. You may protest that juggling does not belong among the major arts. Such an opinion will be held only by those who have witnessed merely the proficient practitioners. Fields is, as far as I know, the only one who is able to introduce the tragic note in the handling of a dozen cigar boxes. When they are pyramided, only to crash because of a sudden off-stage noise, my heart goes out to the protagonist as it seldom does to Lear or Macbeth.

If one thinks of art in terms of line and movement, then I suggest that there is present in this juggling act as much to please the eye as when Pavlowa dances. Like the best of modern painters, Fields can afford to depart from the orthodox, because he is heretical from choice and not from incapacity. I mean, it is amusing when he muffs a trick because you know that he could easily complete it if he cared to. Certainly, there is something admirable in the ability to emotionalize the task of tossing spheres into the air and catching them in rythm. Possibly there is even profundity in such a pastime.

Mr. Fields at play among the planets suggest to me an Einsteinian quality. I do not like to rush into symbolism, but if a mortal can personally see to it that these complicated orbits are preserved, each in its entity, then I go home more sure of the safety and sanctity of the universe than before.

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