Category Archives: actors

Ape is killing ape – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

1-dawn-of-the-planet-of-the-apes-review-jpg-20140714 You would think that the decline in quality of the original 5 “Apes” movies, each one lower-budget and worse quality than the one that preceded it, would give filmmakers pause, but since 2001 we have endured 3 awful s/prequel/remakes.   And yet these films do well at the box office, and are generally well-reviewed.

If this were the “Transformers” series I would care that much, but the original “Planet of the Apes” is indeed brilliant. Based on Rod Serling’s adaptation of  Pierre Boulle’s novel La Planète des singes , it was released in 1968, and features zero CGI.  Instead it featured real actors doing “acting” while wearing make-up and simian-looking prosthetics.  These devices were considered advanced at the time, but now appear rather primitive: article-2150936-135482EB000005DC-726_634x455   Still how scary-looking is that?  Roddy McDowell, Kim Hunter, and Maurice Evans used their costumes to enhance their performances, to give them an “otherness” that they employed, but also had to overcome in order to create full characters. This is the opposite of what Jack Nicholson said about his role as The Joker in 1989’s “Batman”, essentially to “let the costume do the work”.

The tension between artifice and reality is something CGI erases.  While this makes for more realism, it also seems to infect movies with a slackness when it comes to developing stories and characters.  Critics praise CGI and forget that a realistic wink or tear does not a character make. This was the case for the second remake of King Kong, of which A.O. Scott said:

The sheer audacious novelty of the first “King Kong” is not something that can be replicated, but in throwing every available imaginative and technological resource into the effort, Mr. Jackson comes pretty close.

Novelty and technology can’t sustain a movie for 3 hours, characters and narrative can.  Inexplicably Roger Ebert called Kong II “A stupendous cliffhanger, a glorious adventure, a shameless celebration of every single resource of the blockbuster, told in a film of visual beauty and surprising emotional impact.”   Roger Ebert is a wonderful human being, but I find his writing unmemorable.  A.O. Scott seems to specialize in plot summaries.  Plot summary + apologia that this is a “spirited” movie that isn’t perfect = A.O. Scott review. 

Despite my griping, I too wanted to see chimpanzees on horseback firing machine guns (I’m only human).  I found that it was just not as thrilling as what the original “Apes” movie did for me: imagine a world where humans are no longer the pre-eminent species, where it’s payback time for the creatures we have abused for millenia.   Jerry Goldsmith’s eerie modernist score helped create this sense of unease – so different from the crash, boom, bang of near-constant violence in “Dawn”, which has a strange calming effect on me because it seems to be in almost every movie now, and signifies that the good guy is going to win.  The other parts of the score could have been used in a life insurance commercial.

Speaking of good guys, did Director Matt Reeves have to make ape-leader Caesar into an absolute saint?  Consider the strategy in the original “Apes” franchise.  Caesar is a killer, but you understand his rage as he sees his enslaved ape-brothers stun-gunned, and watches his kindly guardian, played by Ricardo Montalban, die in order to protect him.    I go to movies to see people who are worse than me, not better.

The final visual in “Dawn” is another capitulation to feel-good non-reality: caesarclarke

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recall the harrowing last scene in “Planet of the Apes” with Taylor and Nova about to enter into the Forbidden Zone after seeing the ruined Statue of Liberty: liberty3 Final verdict on “The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”: mqdefault

“You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!”

 

 

 

 

Postscript:   “Planet of the Apes” features one of my favorite opening scenes in movies, Charlton Heston, the spaceship captain is smoking a cigar on the bridge, recording into his log before he goes into suspended animation:

Tell me, though, does man, that marvel of the universe, that glorious paradox who sent me to the stars, still make war against his brother…keep his neighbor’s children starving?”

charlton_heston                                 Post-postscript: Really getting tired of seeing Gary Oldman, one of my favorite actors, trotting out his American accent in these trumped-up, square-spectacled Commissioner-Gordon-type roles.

The Lady from Shanghai

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Despite all mirrors, sharp angles and Expressionistic undertones, I found Orson Welles’ “The Lady from Shanghai” to be lurching and vague.   Most of the reviews I’ve read on it are heavy on context: Welles and Rita Hayworth were in the midst of a divorce be because of his philandering, Welles was considered “finished” in Hollywood after the movie failed at the box office.  But for once I’ll take a movie on it’s face: I did not care about the characters, I thought the plot overcomplicated, and I did not find Welles at all convincing as a romantic lead or a tough guy.

Supporting actors Glen Anders and Everett Sloane are terrific; Rita Hayworth is luminous though simple (she lip-synchs wonderfully).   Since it’s a murder mystery from the same era, I kept thinking about how the film would have been different if Alfred Hitchcock directed it.   More shock, more icy energy, less of the romantic triangle.

Welles’ vaunted visual effects such as sea creatures magnified in aquarium tanks, and the famous “hall of mirrors” finale, didn’t do much for me, especially when paired with the relatively conventional and boring courtroom scenes.   Welles’ Irish brogue was unconvincing, even distracting, and I found his delivery to be “stagey”, even when delivering the most off-hand of lines.

It’s not a complete clunker, the cinematography during the yachting scenes is fluid in a way you don’t expect from a film made in 1948, and supporting performances are good – Glen Anders, as the half-crazy business partner adds some energy.  When the closing credits rolled though, I felt I had shanghai’d MYSELF by committing the time to see this movie.

Herzog the Unnatural

Remember Werner Herzog speaking on the topic of nature while filming Aguirre, Wrath of God ?

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(Click to see the interview on Youtube, it’s worth it)

In his latest film, “Happy People: A Year in the Taiga”, he’s done a complete about-face, creating a paen to nature:  a cross between a Leni Riefenstahl-style “Bergfilme” and a Disney documentary.

Let’s not forget, this is a director who created a definitive cinematic statement on man’s powerlessness against nature – “Aguirre – The Wrath of God” In that film nature is an irresistable force that causes only madness and death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even as recently as Grizzly Man there was an ominous undertone to his depiction of the natural world. Gradually though  (Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Encounters at the End of the World) his view has become much more sanguine. And by that I don’t mean “bloody”.

“The Happy People” features self-reflective, ethnic-Russian fur-trappers, musing philosophically as they conquer nature with a series of canny traps, self-made gadgets, dugout canoes, and home-brewed insect repellent (along with snowmobiles, chainsaws and plastic sheeting). I find this sort of thing very enjoyable, there’s a Robinson Crusoe-esque self-reliant quality that seems like a good antidote to the anxiety of modern life.

The problem I had with “The Happy People” isn’t want Herzog puts in, it’s what he leaves out. He barely touches on the indigenous “Ket” people of that region of Siberia, who are at the bottom of the social order.  They are plagued by alcoholism, and their culture and language are disappearing.

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As you can see, these are not the “Happy People”. They are like the mythological Eris, left out of the wedding of Peleus and Thetis and it would have been more fruitful for Herzog to explore their discord. They in fact invented many of these canny traps and techniques that the Russians use.

But Herzog now seems to be beyond provocation and provocativeness.  He’s in a steady groove that ignores reality but garners good reviews all around. Kael’s comments on later Scorcese seem applicable:

“He has become a much more proficient craftsman… but the first films he did that I responded to intensely – Mean Streets and Taxi Driver had a sense of discovery. He was looking into himself and the world…. Even though Scorcese shows what he can do in some ways, he doesn’t shape the material.” (Conversations with Pauline Kael, p. 167)

I have some other quibbles. Could a man really travel 150 kilometers in -50F weather at night in a snowmobile? I don’t think “Survivorman” would try this with the best gear.  How would you survive if your snowmobile breaks down? How do you get out of bed when it’s that cold? How do you wash yourself? How happy a person are you when a tooth becomes infected?

Creative people often have a brief shining period of amazing originality, followed by years of reputation-coasting. It’s unreasonable to expect everyone to be Picasso.  Herzog has become a master emcee.  I’ll remember his earlier work.  I’ll remember Woody Allen’s “earlier, funnier films” too.

In the meantime, may I recommend the low-budget film “Alone in the Wilderness”, the story of a man who builds himself a log cabin in the Alaskan wilderness with just hand tools.  Think of it as  “The Happy People” without the quirky Bavarian voice-over.

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World’s Fair-y Tale

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The 64-65 World’s Fair marks the crossing of a cultural Rubicon. In 1965 DuPont Corporation sponsored an exhibit called the “Wonderful World of Chemistry”, featuring a musical with a song called “The Happy Plastic Family”. Two years later, in 1967 the movie “The Graduate” was released, with the famous exchange:

I just want to say on word to you,just one word.

Yes, sir.

Are you listening?

Yes I am.

Plastics.

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(Dustin Hoffman underplays it the whole way.)

From 1965 to 1967 the concept of plastics was shifting from hopeful to ominous. Today we are faced with a giant floating island of plastic debris in the North Pacific, twice the size of the Continental United States. You turn away and hope that some solution will be found or you will be dead before it becomes a big problem. Imagine, then, not only not worrying about the impact of new chemicals, but actively celebrating it. Imagine GM’s “Wonderful World of Tomorrow” ride which took people on a tour of ecosystems, from desertscape to moonscape, to underwater diving bell, each fantastic and hopeful.

Robert Moses, the organizer of the 1964-65 World’s Fair, broke ranks with the governing Bureau of International Exhibitions, by demanding that participating countries pay exhibition fees. The BIE instructed their member countries not to attend, and the result was a fair dominated by Third World countries, with Spain and Vatican City being the only major exhibitors. Commercial interests filled the void. The ’64-65 World’s Fair marked the point at which corporations finally superceded nations in the Western cultural consciousness. Never again would plastics seem as innocent.



“Where’s Poppa”: When farces plod.

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I was prepared to love “Where’s Poppa”, it features the nexus of Normal Lear sitcom character actors who, when I was growing up, felt like extended members of my raisenette-sized broken nuclear family. How fun it would be to see censor-free Barnard Hughes, Vincent Gardenia, Ron Liebman, Rob Reiner, and a pre-SNL Garret Morris.

But alas,”Where’s Poppa” drags. It’s claustrophobic and plodding, and breaks the cardinal rules of farce, lightness of mood and a fast pace.

The plot involves the efforts of a lawyer (George Segal) to rid himself of his overbearing Jewish mother, who lives in his gigantic New York apartment. Along the way we are exposed ridiculous characters and situations: a comedic group of muggers who repeatedly mug the brother of the main character, the rape of a policeman which involves the use of a gorilla suit and subsequent gay love, Ruth Gorden pulling down Segal’s pants and biting his ass as he serves her dinner. Why doesn’t this work?

Part of the explanation is the sense of doom engendered by the cramped, dark interiors and antique set-decoration. I absolutely eat up cinematography of New York during this era, but watching this movie felt like I was leafing through the Police Gazette in a dark bus terminal.

The main reason though is the slow pace. Modern MTV-style quick cuts have changed what moviegoers feel is a comfortable editing tempo, but, even taking this into consideration, camera shots are held for an excessively long time. Plot developments are also very slow. There is one situation in which this works: a weird love song George Segal sings to Trish Van Devere, softly, very close to her face, and for an excruciatingly long period of time. It reminded me of those cringeworthy extended shots in the British version of “The Office”, where you find yourself mentally begging the camera to cut away, and at the same time you can’t stop looking.

Sadly, most of the film is more “hurry up” than “can’t look away”. Which made me wonder if it’s possible to have a black comedy that is also a farce. The dilemma is that the gravitas of the subject matter in a black comedy tends to weigh down lightness of the farce. Movies like Robert Altman’s “M*A*S*H” and Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove” prove that it can be accomplished.  They do this not only through speed but also through entertaining subplots,  something “Where’s Poppa” neglects.

Although the film features multiple, stereotypically-funny characters, almost all of them are directly involved in the central drama of how to deal with the recalcitrant mother. The scenes featuring Garret Morris and the Central Park muggers are as close as the viewer gets to a mental break. The muggers seemed almost Shakespearean, following the tradition of comic ne’er-d0-wells. If the rest of “Where’s Poppa” had clung a little more closely to stage tradition it would have been a better film. Edgier isn’t always better. It’s as if all these talented actors and the director Carl Reiner, were taking a short sabbatical before the creative maelstrom of the 70’s .

Random notes: After stealing Ron Liebman’s clothes, the muggers mention Cornel Wilde’s “The Naked Prey” (1966), a great action movie that was a stylistic precursor to 1968’s “Planet of the Apes”.

As politically incorrect as he was, it’s disquieting to learn about the death of an action hero as formidable as Charleton Heston. Linda Harrison, who played “Nova”, Taylor’s mute mate, said that James Fransicus, in the sequel seemed to be cute and tiny compared to Heston.

Chicago 10: Gen X’er gets the 60’s wrong

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1968-born director Brett Morgan makes two excellent choices in creating “Chicago 10”: to avoid the use of 60’s songs in the soundtrack, and to employ a fluid style of animation for much of the picture. Ultimately though he proves himself to be unwilling to grapple with the complexities and emotional underpinnings of the events of the 1960’s, and the result is a mashed-up documentary without a point of view, rather than a serious film.

In a “Fresh Air” interview, Morgan explained that because the anthemic music of the 60’s has been so thoroughly co-opted by Madison Avenue, he could no longer use it in the movie. He’s right. Imagine hearing “Revolution” by the Beatles while watching documentary footage of a protest march: it’s only a matter of time before the Nike logo appears. Morgan instead employs modern music, although it’s a stretch to say that the Beastie Boys and Rage Against the Machine are truly contemporary.

The near 3-dimensional animation used throughout the film is detailed enough to allow you actually look into the character’s mouths, but it serves the traditional reductive purposes of puppetry: to take the audience out of context, to remove the prejudices inherent in viewing human actors, to symbolize reality rather than portray it. These opportunties are squandered. Instead, 70’s-sitcom-viewer Morgan uses animation as a comic counterpoint to the harsh documentary film footage of the Chicago riots.

From time to time the totemic potential of using animated characters emerges though. Watching a cartoon Abbie Hoffman doing stand-up short-circuits all those “oh god it’s political stand-up” thoughts, he is free to function as a greek chorus, commenting on the action in the courtroom that took place earlier that day.

But for the most part “Chicago 10” fails to provide context. There is brief footage of the announcement of Martin Luther King’s death, but no sense of the the reasons for the worldwide social changes that were coming to a head in 1968, and no in-depth examination of the burgeoning youth demographic as it realized the moral bankruptcy of the old guard.

Morgan makes no attemp to reconcile the urgent protests of 1968 with the Sarandon/Mumia/Earth-First watered-down antiwar protests of today.   Imagine how energized Iraq war protests be if there were an active draft and big daily casualty counts like there were in Vietnam.  Jim Crow laws were in effect a up until the mid-60’s. “Loving vs. Virginia” was a court case that ended race-based restrictions on marriage. It was decided in 1967.

“Chicago 10” inadvertently minimizes the legitimacy of opposition to these injustices by focusing on the antics of the defendants. We don’t see the pain and frustration of a real human beings. Instead we see the Yippies descend on a city officials office and threaten to put LSD in the city water if they aren’t given the permit they want. Grainy film footage of cops wielding billyclubs substitutes for the more complicated social grievances rather than symbolizing them. Similarly the much-touted courtoom shackling of defendant Bobby Seale at the hands of a deliciously insidious Judge Julius Hoffman functions as a calculated shorthand for addressing racial injustice, which is absent elsewhere in the film.

It’s unreasonable to expect a single fim to capture the complexity of the 60’s, but “Chicago 10” doesn’t come close. Director Morgan, a child of the 70’s, babies the audience, using the animated sequences for emotional relief when the documentary footage gets frightening or boring. He puts the drama in a courtroom where he knows there is only farce. Opportunities for real drama abound: in the latter part of the film there is footage of Allen Ginsberg deciding, as he talks, whether or not to go on a prohibited march where there may be violence. What would you have done? What if you had just been drafted? And why did this idealism die? Why did this gritty passion get swept away into the Pina Colada 70’s?

Credit needs to be given to Brett Morgan for addressing this time in history. And to Roy Schieder for his wonderful voiceover of Julius Hoffman. But in the end “Chicago 10” doesn’t even rise to the level of received wisdom, it’s received footage.

Lumet loves Lattices: The Pawnbroker

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(photo from K. Silam Mohammad’s lostintheframe.blogspot.com)

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“The Pawnbroker” stars Rod Steiger as a Holocaust survivor who becomes a pawnbroker in Spanish Harlem in the early-60’s. This places the action 20 years out from WWII, roughly the same time that has passed since the first Desert Storm — not a long time.  It must have been even more powerful to see this harrowing film in the 1960’s than it is today.

Steiger has a sheer presence that makes minor quibbles, like his hard-to-place accent, inconsequential. The weight of experience is so heavy upon the main character, Mr. Nazerman, that he can only respond to people in the most perfunctory manner. All social niceties have left him. Thus when the pimp who is laundering money through Nazerman’s pawnshop mockingly calls him “Professor”, Nazerman simply hangs up the phone. Or when a junkie, trying to sell a gimcrack radio, berates him as a “filthy blood-sucking kike”, he barely glances up as he replies “Still at the same address?”. Seeing this disregard for social convention is a guilty pleasure, like watching Michael Imperioli of The Soproanos pull out a gun in order to get faster service in a donut shop. It brings you over to Nazerman’s side, a dangerous place to be, because when the emotions do come out, they will be titanic.

Lumet uses grids and latticework as a symbol of confinement throughout the film: the metal protective metal grid inside the pawnshop, often casting shadows on the characters, the fancy cross-hatched room divider in the pimp Rodriguez’ pad, the railing on the patio of the social worker’s apartment, the barbed wire in the flashbacks to the concentration camp. And who can blame Nazerman for staying within the lines?

Ultimately though, Nazerman discovers that his business is being financed through prostitution, he flashes back to images of his wife (girlfriend?) in Nazi “Joy Division” sexual slavery, and he has a breakdown. The final scene is of Steiger plunging his hand through the sharp ticket-holder spine, then wandering the streets of Spanish Harlem, staring at his stigmata, shortly after his assistant has been killed in a botched robbery attempt.

The power of Steiger’s performance isn’t in the shaking and grimacing though, it’s in his non-reactivity. Being non-reactive is a high-status trait, and we find it intriguing that Nazerman, essentially a schlemiel who is at the behest of petty crooks, can carry himself with such authority. Perhaps we fellow schlemiels can model ourselves after him in some way.

Yet there is an underlying tension of knowing that, in order to achieve this equanimity, he must essentially kill the parts of himself that are human, and this cannot last for long. How tempting it would be for an actor of lesser stature to give up on this theme, to instead portray the character as angry or simmering, and to try to force meaning into the dialog that Steiger wisely treats as throwaway. Steiger rejects poignancy and is a master of self-control. Thus when he breaks down it is all the more terrible.

Minor notes and other gulity pleasures: Interiors are shot with that old klieg-light style that makes every character look like an escaped prisoner pinned against a prison drainpipe. The apartment furnishings inside Brock Peter’s apartment are authentic Saarinen pedestal items (Saarinen claimed he wanted to provide a “solution for clearing up the slums of legs in US homes”) and Eames chairs. Peter’s manservant looks like a photographic negative of himself, instead of a black man in white clothing it’s a white man with silver hair in black clothing, an early Andersen Cooper type.

1940’s meet the 1960’s: “Go Man Go!”

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A charming time-capsule starring another charismatic but forgotten actor, Dane Clark (not the execrable Dane Cook), alongside a young Sidney Poitier, “Go Man Go!” features a bebop score by Slim Galliard, who was a favorite of Jack Kerouac. I wonder what the connection with “On the Road” is — I remember the phrase “Go Man Go” as an exhortation Sal Paradise shouted out to improvising jazz musicians.

Slim Galliard makes an appearance, playing a piano with his fingers upside down for a small gathering of Globetrotters. I love Kerouac’s description of a Galliard concert:

‘… we went to see Slim Gaillard in a little Frisco nightclub. Slim Gaillard is a tall, thin Negro with big sad eyes who’s always saying ‘Right-orooni’ and ‘How ’bout a little bourbon-arooni.’ In Frisco great eager crowds of young semi-intellectuals sat at his feet and listened to him on the piano, guitar and bongo drums.”

“…Then he slowly gets up and takes the mike and says, very slowly, ‘Great-orooni … fine-ovauti … hello-orooni … bourbon-orooni … all-orooni … how are the boys in the front row making out with their girls-orooni … orooni … vauti … oroonirooni …” He keeps this up for fifteen minutes, his voice getting softer and softer till you can’t hear. His great sad eyes scan the audience.”

What kills me is “ovauti“, it makes sense next to “o-rooni” but it’s so weird, where is it coming from? It’s perfect though.

That’s the 1950’s part of this movie, the 1940’s part consists of stereotypical interactions between Clark as Abe Saperstein, Bill Stern (as himself) a hard-bitten but honest sportswriter, and the evil Potter-like sports magnate Mr. Willoughby. The Bowery-Boys-style slang they use — “Hey ya mug! Ya gonna be a chump all your life? Of course you’re invited!” — is the direct precursor of today’s crushingly unimaginative board-room Ebonics appropriation: “Quarterly earnings doubled? Girl, go on with your bad self!”. It was probably just as hard to listen to back then.

The 1960’s part of the movie is best shown in the final scene, Abe Saperstein, arm-in-arm with the Globetrotters, walking triumphantly towards the camera, in a hopeful message of racial healing. Shades of Blackboard Jungle. I can’t recall another movie from the 1950’s that was this hopeful and unabashed about race. Today’s derivative ironic culture cannibalizes sentiment like this.

“Go Man Go” also has something to say about acting. In an early scene real-life Globetrotter “Sweetwater Clifton” speaks some lines about how he likes soda pop (the origin of his nickname). He delivers them woodenly, although with charm. This is the low end of the acting scale.

Raising the bar, Dane Clark as Abe Saperstein, shows real conviction, but he’s always hitting something when he acts. “I’m going to get us into big arenas if it’s the last thing I do!’ (SMACK). It’s as if the director fired him up before every scene (“Now this time really mean it!”) without thinking what the cumulative effect would be. Clark’s “average Joe” always seems to be in a harangue.

The best actor in the movie is Sidney Poitier, in a relatively minor role, who pops up from time-to-time to speak a few impassioned lines. He does so with quiet conviction, and having seen the other actors telegraph and flail, one gets a sense of the star quality of Sidney Poitier.

A couple of minor points about this movie: it is exemplary in showing what I like to call “old-time small basketball court syndrome”, action shot in a remarkably cramped gym. Another film that features this is “Angels with Dirty Faces” where the players are dodging trapezes and other non-basketball equipment as they play on a tiny court.

“Go Man Go” made me think of why, although everyone knows Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, no one knows who did it in the NBA. It turns out that Charles Cooper was the first drafted, Nat Clifton was the first signed, and Earl Lloyd the first to play in a game, all in 1950. Even though it’s complicated, I would think this deserves a little more recognition. Is it because basketball is not “America’s Game”?

The Charles Nelson Reilly Conundrum

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I’ve recently run into several mid-30’s, culturally hyperliterate NYC women who, when asked if they know who Charles Nelson Reilly is, respond with a blank stare. Although the Krapmeister is no spring chicken, this is making me feel Really Old, it’s putting me into Ian McKellan in “Gods and Monsters” territory.

CNR was a gem, one of the first openly gay comedians on network t.v. I don’t think Paul Lynde was “out” to the same degree.

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Charles Nelson Reilly started out taking acting lessons with Steve McQueen, once married to the lovely Ali McGraw, (see previous post, ed.) He appeared on Broadway and won several Tonys and later became a “game-show fixture”. His spluttering, sailor-hatted, giant-glasses-wearing, ascot-sporting persona was funny and refreshing to me, and I always imagined him as a calm, honorable mensch underneath.

This would distinguish him from Paul Lynde who was also very funny but with an air of menace that hinted at the mean-ass alcoholic he was in real life. There is an apocryphal story of how, as a confirmed kid-hater, he was driven crazy by a squalling baby on a long plane flight. He is said to have left his seat and confronted the baby’s mother, saying “Madam, if you don’t quiet that baby I’m going to fuck it!” It’s bad enough he says “fuck” in regard to the kid but he also calls it an “it”. Drugs, rough trade, booze, early death… standard Hollywood story arc.

But back to me. Why is it that it’s so difficult in the ostensible cultural capital of the world to find a woman who knows who Charles Nelson Reilly is? I’m not big on cultural litmus tests but I’m feeling a little isolated here. Now if I could only find someone who knows who this man is:

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Love Story

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Ali McGraw is so appealing in Love Story. Ryan O’Neal too. The movie is overwrought but it’s truly character-driven. Ali McGraw looks like an ex of mine, and the deathbed scenes reminded me of my mom’s recent passing so I suppose the experience was preloaded. I found myself feeling that slightly painful feeling of falling in love. I suppose that’s the motivation for the teenage girls who would see the movie multiple times during its first run.

Ryan O’Neal was great at one time, fantastic in “Paper Moon”, funny in “What’s Up Doc?” How did he turn into a bloated angry mess? Ali McGraw wrote a book called “Moving Pictures” where she describes her battles with alcohol and her relationship problems – like Jane Fonda she was only attracted to cold, witholding men. Who could have predicted that watching her be so fresh-faced, funny and cynical back in 1970?