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Edgar Kennedy
Master of the Slow Burn

By Bill Cassara

 

cover

BOOK REVIEW

Edgar Kennedy: Master of the Slow Burn
By Bill Cassara

BearManor Media : Boalsburg, Pennsylvania : 2005
ISBN 1-59393-018-6 : 308 pages : trade paperback : $19.95

Reviewed by Carl Bennett
This biography of the Keystone and Hal Roach studios veteran, Edgar Kennedy, is a long overdue acknowledgement of the cinematic contributions of one of Hollywood’s best-known character actors. Leading practitioner of the famous ‘slow-burn’ take, fully-developed in the golden era of cinema, Kennedy’s career spanned an early time in competitive boxing, performing and directing in the silent to sound years, and the genre gamut from his many slapstick comedies to the occasional serious drama.

Cassara’s apparent fannish sensibilities are in check here and he covers the details of Kennedy’s life and career with well-paced restraint and from his admirably-detailed research. The overall portrait is of a dedicated journeyman who caught a few lucky breaks, made a few more through hard work, and parlayed them into a long career of character work. We welcome this book’s void-filling biographic look at another important character player from the silent era, and positively recommend it to those interested in Kennedy, Keystone and Roach.

Our rap on this edition, with its extensive illustrations chiefly supplied by the Kennedy family and from the author’s collection, is that we regret that the photographs were not reproduced on better paper and in greater image detail. The coarsely-screened halftones printed on uncoated book paper are of newspaper quality.

 
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