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King of the Movies: Francis X. Bushman Paperback – November 20, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: BearManor Media (November 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593934521
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593934521
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,517,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Hiram Horwitz on August 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
This masterfully written account of the silver screen's first male romantic idol is a gem. Lon and Debra Davis have captured the spirit of an individual born with exceptional talent and drive, who through his own confidence evolved from an ordinary child to become a silent film star capturing the title King of the Movies. But the title was short-lived, and the individual spent the remainder of his dynamic life doing whatever was necessary to emulate his early role in cinematic history, despite never regaining the crown. A life unparalleled, Francis X. Bushman's journey is extremely intriguing and told in a manner that makes the reader appreciate the actor's humanity while simultaneously scorning his ego. This combination makes the content both riveting and insightful. Although the book was conceived years after Bushman's demise, it is written in a style that eliminates the passage of time and makes the reader experience a oneness with Bushman. Amazingly, the authors were youngsters when Bushman died in the mid-1960s. This fact is not evident in the prose, which is brilliant and convinces the reader that the authors were there first-hand, witnessing every aspect of Bushman's colorful life. Supplemental to the story is a wonderful collection of rare photos, from every era of Bushman's 80+ year life. Also included is a chronology summarizing the ups and downs of the actor's career and family, and an extensively researched filmography chronicling the multitude of familiar and lost film appearances. Clearly, this book is a labor of love. If you are a silent film fan or historian - or someone just wanting to learn more about Francis X. Bushman - this book is for you. A truly magnificent entry from the team of Davis and Davis!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Underwood on September 7, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the most exciting and enjoyable book I've read in a long time, and it is not often that one can say that about a biography. But then again, the subject of this biography was no doubt an exceptional person, full of vigor and love of life, namely Francis X. Bushman - the first great movie star. Although his career spanned six decades and over 200 roles, the first hundred or more are from the infant years of cinema, namely 1911 to 1914. Long before Rudolph Valentino, it was Francis X. Bushman who was the screen's first Great Lover, male sex symbol and heart-throb, attracting huge crowds of swooning women wherever he went. For those years at the height of his fame, he lived a luxurious, extravagant lifestyle, only to lose everything and be completely broke - and that more than once in his long life. This rollercoaster career would in itself already be an exciting and fascinating read, but the authors have presented not only a legendary celebrity but a real person in this very impressive project that began in the early 1980s. Gleaning information about the great man from Bushman's widow and also his ex-wife and former regular co-star, Beverly Bayne, as well as many other sources, authors Lon and Debra Davis have done a stupendous job of putting all these bits of information together coherently so that the reader can simply enjoy the thrill ride that was the life of Francis X. Bushman.

Many personal details make this biography very colourful and alive so that it feels more like reading a great story about a larger-than-life personality working in the entertainment industry.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark Pruett on April 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
Silent film star Francis X. Bushman was proud, vain, self-aggrandizing, and given to exaggeration, hyperbole, and the extravagant gesture--made to order, in other words, for a juicy celebrity biography. Lon and Debra Davis have produced something quite different.

They make no apology for Bushman's excesses nor give them any greater weight than his accomplishments. More important, they refrain from armchair psychoanalysis, preferring to let Bushman's own remarks serve as an index to his strengths and shortcomings. Against the Davises' detailed background of the period, Bushman's recollections tell of the challenges, frustrations, and temptations attending the pursuit of an acting career in the early days of cinema. It was not for the faint of heart.

The authors describe what is surely one of the steepest declines in a star's fortunes ever recorded. Was Bushman brought down by angry female fans, shocked to learn that their heartthrob had hidden the existence of a wife and five children? Or did Metro cut him loose for insubordinate behavior and declining box office receipts?

Both explanations are credible. If studios put their trust in the satisfying clink of silver, audiences put theirs in the preservation of the sheerest illusion. We know that fake emotion onscreen can elicit real emotion in us, the audience; perhaps this explains why we feel betrayed when the illusion is broken. Bushman wore the mantle of "King of the Movies." If stars are merely human, how can they be larger than life, as inaccessible as kings?

For all his setbacks--Bushman lost one fortune after another--he never lost his sense of humor. He laughed at his errors, dusted himself off, and went back to work.

The Davises' writing is straightforward and free of cant. No film-school jargon here, no axes to grind. Just a thoroughly absorbing story.
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