Bob Fosse was a Renaissance man who acted and directed for both movies, television, and the Broadway stage. Several biographies have been written about the director, but Sam Wasson explores from the angle of a man living on borrowed time. Fosse is a fascinating, intense story of a man who lived his life going a million miles a minute, and while he flamed out quickly, he did it on his own terms.
Wasson is another author who has waded through an extensive bounty of research to craft this time, clocking in at over 700 pages! The book’s path, to the naked eye, would be backwards from his death to his birth (with each chapter headed by years). Instead, the book is told from his birth up with the years signifying his time left on Earth. Fosse was a man who burned the candle at both ends, miring himself in drugs, drink, and women throughout his life. The man was unrepentant in his hedonism starting at a young age when his parents let him trod the boards at various burlesque houses.
On top of the research Wasson provides, the interview subjects are diverse including Fosse’s childhood friends and the big stars whose names were created on his work like Liza Minnelli and wife Gwen Verdon. The best parts of the book, for me, involved Fosse’s films, and it can be difficult wading through his various stage experience to get to his movies. He was a perfectionist, particularly when it came to his musicals, and it’s amazing to see what he worked with and fought for within his movies. His personal life is also explored; his issues with women extended back to his childhood being around older women at a young age. It’s almost sad how fame taught him females are disposable.
If anything, the lengthy amount of pages can make Fosse a trying read. After reading about his time on the stage, which comprises a fairly lengthy amount of his life and career, it can be hard to get through a rather repetitious series of events. Thankfully, Wasson keeps the story moving with quotations from friends and family, but this is a serious text for serious fans of the man. In a way, reviewing it is difficult because the material is so expansive; it took me several weeks to get through this and almost immediately after closing it I found it hard to recall the earlier sections of the book. Generally, too much information works in a biography and while Wasson is an expert biographer, the journey is a long one. If you’re a hard-core Fosse fan like me, than Fosse is the definitive text to read.
Fosse hits bookshelves this Tuesday!
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A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.