Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Oh Say Can You Tennessee

To commemorate Warner Bros.' release of the Tennessee Williams Film Collection today (contains the films Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Sweet Bird of Youth, The Night of the Iguana, Baby Doll and The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone), I thought I would share with you some of my favorite passages from a book I'm currently reading, written by Rex Reed: People Are Crazy Here*. The book has 40 chapters, but I've only made it to Chapter 23 so far (It's an interview with actress Doris Day). The book is great. A fascinating time capsule of 1974. Rarely does a book make me laugh outloud, but this one does! It's written in such a style, it makes you feel like you are actually there without being too wordy as to lose your interest.

I remember seeing Rex Reed in cinebomb Myra Breckenridge and thinking he was sooooo hot. A little too fruity for my tastes, but visually he was lookin' gooood. The book was written 4 years after the movie was released, but I've included a scan of him from the book jacket (click his photo to see a current photo of him today). Niiice. Unfortunately time has not been kind and not unlike the once super-sexy Tony Curtis (click his photo to see a current photo of him today), he has grown exponentially fruitier and more bloated with each new year.

Yeah yeah, I know "But Kirk, everyone ages. You'll be old too someday."I know, I know. But some people just sail down that slippery slope faster than others.

By the way, allow me to be sidetracked here for a moment. Speaking of Tony Curtis, I don't know if you're aware of this or not but he is one of the members of AMPAS (The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences). Apparently he refused to watch nominee for Best Picture, Brokeback Mountain, denouncing it saying he had no interest in seeing it and that "Howard Hughes and John Wayne wouldn't like it." I can't help but find this ironic since he's always (to me anyway) come off as MONDO gay (and I'm not just saying that because he's a homophobic old coot). I don't care if he has been married 5x and spawned numerous children, I always thought he was nursing some serious chin burn. I'm probably wrong, but I'm just sayin' he looks superqueer to me. On a side note, I feel like if you are going to sit on the panel of AMPAS, the very least you can do is watch the nominated films. Otherwise I think it's not only unfair to the people involved it's also extremely unprofessional.

Back to the book. Chapter 2 is an interview with American playwright, Tennessee Williams. Here are a few favorite excerpts:

Scene: Rex being introduced to Williams' entourage at a restaurant in New Orleans:
...a young muscular beachboy named Victor Herbert Campbell, twenty-one, the latest in a line of secretaries and traveling companions. "You can call me Vic," says the young man, "it's short for Victor."

"Hah!" snorts Tennessee. "You mean, short for Victim." The beachboy blushes and returns to his steak.

Scene: Walking through the streets of New Orleans, talking to Rex Reed:
"This reminds me of the time I did The David Frost Show. He asked me if I was a homosexual in front of millions of people. I was so mortified I didn't know what to say, so I just blurted out, 'I cover the waterfront,' and the audience cheered me so loud he said he guessed he better break for a commercial and I said, 'I should think you would.'"

"All the charming people I've ever known are a little bit mad. I am very suspicious of people who appear to be outwardly happy all the time and have always regarded them as somewhat simpleminded."

"Victor, take a picture of me in front of old Andrew Jackson's statue covered in pigeon shit."

Scene: Seated at the Edwardian Room of the Plaza hotel, having just ordered, a waiter with a rather large behind passes the table. Tennessee reaches out and pinches it:
The waiter hurls around, his fists doubled. "What the...oh it's you, Mr. Williams....what are you doing in town?"

Tennessee looks innocent-guilty, like a choirboy who has just been caught sneaking a bullfrog into the collection plate. "We ah heah fo' Holy Week," he says, exploding with laughter. The waiter leaves, laughing too, and rubbing his derrière.

Scene: Discussing how for several months he was under contract to MGM in 1943, as a screenwriter. On how his written version of Senso did not transfer well onto the screen. It had been completely rewritten with only one original scene left intact. On that scene:
...a scene in a bedroom with two people waking up in a bed. There was a line that went, 'There's always a sound in the room when you wake,' and Visconti (the director) had a fly buzzing around. Of course that's not what I meant at all. When I wake up I always start belching. There's always that sound of getting rid of the poisons from the night before.

* I highly recommend this book. You can pick up a used copy for as little as 75¢ at Half.com. A fun read that you won't be able to put down! I promise!


Blogger Rene Merced Jr said...

Rex Reed seems to have aged well... maybe it's the scarf.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006 11:27:00 PM  
Blogger Kirkkitsch said...

It's the scarf. It's silken magic cradles Rex's neck in a whirlwind of youth and unflinching style! I have a drawer full of them, for that first sign od crow's feet, waiting to unleash their magic.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006 7:42:00 PM  

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