This deft amalgam of biography, film history, and analysis is a superb portrait of a true pioneer who was critically important to the creation of cinema as the defining art form of the twentieth century. Douglas Fairbanks (1883-1939) was one of the first film superstars, a screenwriter, a major independent producer during the early studio era, a cofounder of United Artists, a founder and the first president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and much more. The optimism, energy, and huge success during the 1920s of his best-remembered films The Mark of Zorro, Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood, The Thief of Bagdad, and The Black Pirate made Fairbanks a popular hero throughout the world and showcased his talents as a creative producer whose work set the standard for excellence.
Douglas Fairbanks takes the full measure of Fairbanks's remarkable life. Jeffrey Vance, who had complete access to the star's personal and professional papers and scrapbooks, also incorporates 237 photographs, some unseen for more than seventy-five years. Extensively researched, engagingly written, and sumptuously designed, the book goes behind Fairbanks's public persona to thoroughly explore his art and his far-reaching influence.
Copub: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
A Bad Case of St. Vitus’ Dance
The Machine for Escape
Doug: Hero and Popular Philosopher
Making His Mark: The Mark of Zorro (1920)
The Great Leap: The Three Musketeers (1921)
Scaling the Heights: Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood (1922) 123
Apogee: The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
The Son Also Rises: Don Q Son of Zorro (1925)
and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
Derring-Do: The Black Pirate (1926)
Darkness Falls: Douglas Fairbanks as The Gaucho (1927)
Hail and Farewell: The Iron Mask (1929)
Sound and Fury: Taming of the Shrew (1929) and Marital Strife
Douglas Fairbanks Filmography
Douglas Fairbanks’s Broadway Appearances, 1902–1915
Jeffrey Vance is a film historian, producer, and lecturer as well as the author of an acclaimed trilogy of books on the great triumvirate of silent-film comedy: Chaplin: Genius of the Cinema, Harold Lloyd: Master Comedian (with Suzanne Lloyd), and Buster Keaton Remembered (with Eleanor Keaton).
"The heedless ambition of youth. The triumphs of maturity, redefining our ideas of fame, fortune and international celebrity. The sad aimlessness of the aging male, stripped of his powers over his formerly adoring audience. It is the archetypal Hollywood story, maybe the archetypal American story. And Jeffrey Vance tells it with verve and compassion and admirable compression in his handsomely illustrated biography of Douglas Fairbanks. It is a book that restores his subject to his rightful place as the American movies' founding Big Brother—shrewd, playful, flawed and endlessly fascinating."—Richard Schickel
"Over the years I have had an interest in Douglas Fairbanks' life and films before reading Jeffrey Vance's book. I was delighted to find that the research was admirable, the detail abundant, and the style devoid of pretense and heavy-handed scholarship. The book reads gracefully with a wonderful sense of 'and then what happened?' And a great deal does happen to the inimitable Doug along the way. His cinema world of high adventure, storybook romance, cloak and sword derring-do, and dazzling acrobatics against spectacular settings are all here in the text and in the abundance of extraordinary photos—many quite rare. A first-rate book."—Rudy Behlmer, film historian and author
"Douglas Fairbanks was one of the most important characters in film history, and this enthusiastic and well-researched book will tell you why."—Kevin Brownlow, filmmaker and film historian