F. Scott Fitzgerald's studio man
|The Pat Hobby stories are of a piece- seventeen short stories about a writer (past his prime), who is still hanging around the movie lot. Much like the Model T, PH is a relic of the past, his silent screen heyday having ended with the introduction of talkies. But for reasons financial and social, Pat remains a fixture in the studio, his talents called on only when a producer or director is desperate for help. And while this is not Fitzgerald at his best, each tale is its own little comedy, part of a larger story about a man desperate to remain relevant, yet knowing that his professional days are numbered- if not already gone. |
One wonders if it might be possible, given the modest success of the Coen Bros. recent film "Hail, Caesar," to cobble together a film about Pat Hobby. After all, there are any number of interesting adventures Mr. Hobby embarks on to make a buck (or get the girl): impersonating a fellow who takes fans on guided tours of the "homes of the stars"; an imagined rivalry with Orson Welles that goes horribly awry; a botched attempt to sneak visitors past a movie set, during filming; punching out the wrong man at the studio cafeteria; getting talked into serving as a stunt man. Yes, the material is dated. And yes, humor doesn't seem to be F. Scott's strong suit. And of course, there's a lot of inside-baseball information about studio life. But the stories do hold up, given the rich descriptions FSF lends to every story- that and the fact that Pat Hobby bears more than a passing likeness to the author. Regardless, I found the stories entertaining, and could just imagine Pat up there on the big screen; he trying to finish guiding some trespassing fans through a celebrity's home- then ditching them the moment he sees a car enter the driveway out front ...