Thursday, September 27, 2007

What would Tennesse Williams do?

Oh for the days when movie stars were actually movie stars. I am working my way through the back catalogue of Paul Newman films. Last night it was Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The other day I saw Sweet Bird of Youth. Tonight I may watch Cool Hand Luke. Paul is cast in two very typical Tennessee Williams roles - as the male gigolo whose looks are starting to fade in Sweet Bird of Youth, and the (possibly) closeted fallen football hero in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Both are rather silly psychodramas set in the deep South, featuring exotically glamorous, yet deluded and flawed people. I always have trouble believing Tennessee's dialogue - his characters are all (ostensibly) heterosexual, but no heterosexual people I know ever talk like that - I find it better imagining that all the women are actually drag queens. The men sound and act like they are gay men pretending to be straight men for gay porn. It's all very disconcerting.

Newman's heritage (Hungarian and Polish) has contributed towards those fabulous cheekbones. It's also nice to see an actor who's a supporter of gay marriage and a Democrat. And his salad dressing isn't that bad too. I wonder if Tennessee can vouch for that?

Speaking of movie stars, what would Tennessee make of the character played by Adrian Grenier in the sitcom Entourage (which I'm also working through). Grenier plays Vincent Chase, a pretty face from Queens who is now living it up in LA with his posse (a couple of friends from high school and a dumb half brother who had a faded never-was career of his own). Chase sails through life with one of those permanent smiles pasted over his face - and you know he's never ever going to go bald.

However, he doesn't really have much of a personality and leaves most of the decisions in his life to his little best friend, an ex-pizza manager who is utterly out of his depth in Hollywood. The relationship between the two gets a little Casablanca at times, and I have to admit that I like a lot of the hiphop soundtrack (my Ipod has benefited from a few Jay-Z downloads - which I had previously thought was a window cleaner product). After watching the first season I'm not sure where it's all heading, but there's plenty to look at along the way.


Old Cheeser said...

I love Tennesse Williams' plays - sorry that you're not so impressed with the dialogue! I suppose there is something rather melodramatic about some of his characters though especially people like Blanche Dubois!

Talking of "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof", on a similar yet slightly different note I'm currently reading Elizabth Taylor's biography - what a monster!!

Fin De Fichier said...

"which I previously thought was a window cleaner product" - LMAO!

Gerry said...

He found the button top of the hand brake ratchet rather sexy tonight. The precise clicking of the ratchet appealing to his institutional sense of order. He parked the blue Ford Escort van neatly between the lines away from the well-lit ticket machine area in the shadow of the wall. It was free to park between 7pm and 7am a condition convenient for nearby flat dwelling residents And now a short walk to the high street for this unrepentant charity shop stealerant with delusions of hospitality management placement. He liked helping people however he liked helping himself more. These actions were predominately driven by necessity with lashings of non-conformity. This particular act of theft, performed in deep recessed doorways, was only one of several in his light-fingered repertoire.

He wanted books & small figurines to sell at various locations where cash was paid and no questions were asked – he made money to support his lifestyle of touch and go. Oh he loved a bit of touch and believed most sincerely in the existence of psychometry as a form of psychic reading in which one individual can possess the energy of another through physical contact with their possessions. Flickering images, bad scratchy frames of Divine licking objects in Pink Flamingo’s would whispery pass through his head. It was the strangeness of this image that appealed to him not the sexual orientation of the cross dressing ex-trucker.

He once bought a small pine bookcase from a convent jumble sale; the thought behind this purchase was predominately the possession of purity. The object retaining some spiritual benevolence that would permeate into his life, this was of course bollocks. His thoughts around the purity changed when he read of numerous allegations against priests, he then considered these priests visiting the convent and touching the bookcase maybe just in passing – the sweep of a cassock. He filled the bookcase with a selection of Olympia Press 1st editions just to balance things out. These would eventually be sold along with the bookcase & the whole scenario would be played out again of obtaining an object with good vibes but importantly without pulling a stroke.

For comfort, when extremely stressed, he would talk to his secret friend and masturbatory muse of at least two disturbing decades. She was there when charity shops sold electrical goods without testing them – when it was possible to buy a decent dolls house with a brass hinged roof & latticed windows - before the restrictions of health and safety. She would always whisper what he needed to hear in order to justify whatever act of banditry he was committing: “Go on, steal the bags from outside the charity shops go on, help yourself, you bag of chips eating boy with a bottle of red Daddies in your pocket”. The reference to the Daddies sauce lightened the tragic gravity of the situation and made it more of a jolly jape rather than the act of desperation it really was. It was her voice, a melding of Marianne Faithful and Moira Stewart, that helped him pick out the faded blue BOAC complimentary flight bag zipped and angular bulging with the promise of treasure.

to be continued Zero Lubin

matty said...

You know, I don't think that there is a single "real" movie star under 62 at this point.

Movie stars are gone I'm afraid.

I'm bummed you don't enjoy Williams' dialog --- actually, if you should ever view BABY DOLL --- as someone from the south (US) I can tell you that people do speak just like what you hear in the film. And, I think BABY DOLL might be one of the only screenplays he wrote without another writer tampering/censoring/altering his screenplay., maybe it is more pure. He had a real understanding of the southern eccentric. I think.

Also, so many of the film adaptations were revised to the point beyond ambiguity.

Anyway, my personal fave Williams moment is BOOM! ...Liz and Dick. So over-the-top --- it is just so gloriously, well --- Boom! Gotta love it. Wish they had stuck with the idea of just stopping scenes, looking into the camera and saying, "Boom!" ...that would have been 'art' at its most obscene. ...I think.

Fin De Fichier said...

I was going to say what Matt said. If you've been around certain types of people from the South, you'd know the overwrought dialog is in fact quite realistic/naturalistic. In fact I tell a very fun joke about this involving my southern mother, but it's not blog-world shareable.

matty said...

fin de fichier -- Oh, come on! Share it!

LittleSun said...

a very shallow remark