Download The Village Voice Film Guide: 50 Years of Movies from Classics to Cult Hits PDF

TitleThe Village Voice Film Guide: 50 Years of Movies from Classics to Cult Hits
ISBN 139780471787815
CategoryArts - Film
File Size3.7 MB
Total Pages335
Document Text Contents
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Page 167

Marilyn Beck’s account of the casting of Jerry Lewis as Jerry Langford
is essentially correct, and that Lewis is, in effect, “acting” Johnny
Carson, there is a very satisfying reversal of type involved here, and the
consequences of this reversal verge on myth-making genius. [Andrew
Sarris, 2/15/83]

As talk-show host Jerry Langford, Jerry Lewis has given Martin Scors-
ese his first dramatic performance. Actually, Lewis is not so much
De Niro’s costar as his straight man; it is De Niro who plays the self-
appointed “king of comedy.” Dressed in garish polyester, he’s grown a
pencil-thin mustache and slicked his hair into a razor-sharp pom-
padour for the role of Rupert Pupkin, a thirty-four-year-old messenger
and autograph hound, still living in his mother’s Union City basement,
who constructs an obsessional fantasy around Langford. “I find come-
dians fascinating,” says Scorsese. “There’s so much pain and fear that
goes into the trade.”

Pain and fear—and the convulsive desire for public recognition—
are Martin Scorsese’s meat. Not even Woody Allen has chosen to dram-
atize his neuroses more flagrantly. Unlike Allen, however, Scorsese
offers no apologies. Racism, misogyny, selfishness, and paranoid fury
are right up front. More than any studio director, he resembles an
avant-garde filmmaker like Yvonne Rainer, who unpacks her mind and
fissures her persona with each feature, then figures it out later. Except,
of course, Scorsese’s subject is macho.

With De Niro as his alter ego, Scorsese has created a memorable
gallery of jittery, psyched-up loners: Johnny Boy, Travis Bickle, Jimmy
Doyle, Jake La Motta. As embodied by De Niro, homo scorsesian is a
frustrated outsider fueled by a highly combustible combination of
guilt, jealousy, and delusions of grandeur. Ellen Burstyn plays a female,
suburban variation of the type in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, but
Scorseseville is mainly a man’s world. Women are unknowable Others,
children the promise of destruction. The family is at once a sacred
value and something to flee like the plague.

Rupert Pupkin may be less violent than Travis Bickle or Jake
La Motta, but he’s no less possessed. Although he has never performed
for an audience, Pupkin demands the TV show watched by half of
America each night as the launching pad for his career. “To have drive

152 V I L L A G E V O I C E F I L M G U I D E

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Page 168

is what counts!” Scorsese exclaimed in an early interview. “Anything
to meet people to generate events toward your goal.” Pupkin personi-
fies this crazed pragmatism: rejected by Langford’s aides and thrown
out of Langford’s weekend house, he ultimately gets himself on The
Jerry Langford Show by kidnapping its star.

Originally, Scorsese wanted Johnny Carson for the role of Jerry
Langford. When Carson demurred, Scorsese approached Jerry Lewis.
There is a sense in which Robert Pupkin’s pathology hyperbolizes the
profoundly ambivalent relationship Americans have with the aristoc-
racy of winners who, presented on TV or paraded through the pages
of People magazine, live their lives as public drama. Among other
things, the mild gossip purveyed by the news and entertainment media
promotes the socially cohesive illusion of an intimate America where
everyone knows (and everyone cares) about each other. Part of Rupert’s
motivation is simply a hunger for intimacy with Langford, the celebrity
he idolizes, impinges upon, violates, and ultimately supplants. Rupert
imagines he “knows” Langford personally just from years of watching
him on television and nights spent waiting for his autograph. More-
over, he comes to feel that Langford actually owes him something for
this “unselfish” loyalty.

In The Fall of Public Man, Richard Sennet suggests, “It is the com-
plete repression of audience response by the electronic media” that
produces “a magnified interest in persons or personalities who are not
similarly denied.” King of Comedy takes the rage and the wounded
narcissism implicit in such denial as a fulcrum for an oedipal drama.
Splitting its sympathies between the “have” Langford and the “have-
not” Pupkin, the film offers a both-sides-now dialectic of American
celebrity. [J. Hoberman, 2/15/83]

Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
Dir. Robert Aldrich; Scr. A. I. Bezzerides

106 min.

Genres collide in the great Hollywood movies of the mid-1950s thaw.
The Western goes South with The Searchers; the cartoon merges with

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Page 334

Romero, George A., 126, 182
Ross, Katharine, 104
Rossellini, Isabella, 55, 56–57, 175
Rossellini, Roberto, 46, 47, 116
Rossen, Robert, 155
Roth, Tim, 210
Rouch, Jean, 229
Rowlands, Gena, 158
Ruggles, Charles, 275
Russell, David O., 133
Russo, Chris “Mad Dog,” 31
Ryder, Winona, 9

Salem, El Hedi Ben, 15
Sanda, Dominique, 76
Sandrelli, Stefania, 76
Schrader, Paul, 32
Schwartzman, Jason, 133
Schwitters, Kurt, 116
Schygulla, Hanna, 170, 171
Scorsese, Martin, 9, 32, 150, 203,

211, 241, 257
Seberg, Jean, 57, 58, 299
Sembene, Ousmane, 46, 60
Sevigny, Chloë, 102
Seyrig, Delphine, 143–44, 146, 147
Sharp, Lesley, 178
Shaye, Lin, 262
Shepherd, Cybill, 258
Simon, Michel, 23
Sinatra, Frank, 80
Sirk, Douglas, 13, 118, 305
Sjöström, Victor, 253
Skarsgård, Stellan, 102
Smith, Jack, 114, 115, 222, 252
Smith, Roger Guenveur, 98
Snow, Michael, 5, 116, 144, 146
Spacek, Sissy, 107, 258
Spengler, Volker, 138
Spielberg, Steven, 266

Stack, Robert, 305
Staiola, Enzo, 48
Stewart, James, 11, 215–16, 217,

287, 289, 290, 291
Stiller, Ben, 261, 262
Stockwell, Dean, 174
Straub, Jean-Marie, 107, 144
Strode, Woody, 186
Subor, Michel, 40
Suchomel, Franz, 246
Sugimura, Haruko, 120
Sullivan, David, 207
Sullivan, Tom, 108
Swayze, Patrick, 104
Syberberg, Hans-Jürgen, 244
Sylvester, William, 279

Takamine, Hideko, 119
Tandy, Jessica, 49
Tarantino, Quentin, 210
Tarascio, Enzo, 76
Tarkovsky, Andrei, 15, 87, 157
Tarr, Béla, 232
Tashlin, Frank, 306
Tati, Jacques, 201
Tavel, Ronald, 114
Taylor, Rod, 48–49
Theroux, Justin, 176
Thewlis, David, 177
Thurman, Uma, 210, 211, 212
Tian, Zhuangzhuang, 130
Toback, James, 32
Tomlin, Lily, 133
Tourneur, Jacques, 188
Towers, Constance, 250
Travolta, John, 210, 212
Trintignant, Jean-Louis, 76
Truffaut, François, 51, 141, 155,

172, 216, 295
Tsui, Hark, 189

Index 319

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Page 335

Tzortzoglou, Stratos, 156

Ullmann, Liv, 191
Ulmer, Edgar G., 81, 188, 263

Van Pallandt, Nina, 81
Velez, Lupe, 162
Vertov, Dziga, 105, 163, 253
Vidal, René, 141
Vidor, King, 61
Vigo, Jean, 22, 309
Vitti, Monica, 29, 30
Vlácil, Frantisek, 167
Vlady, Marina, 278
von Sternberg, Josef, 260
von Trier, Lars, 101
Vrba, Rudolf, 247

Wahlberg, Mark, 133
Walsh, Angela, 96
Walsh, Raoul, 60
Warhol, Andy, 64, 114, 115, 144,

146, 284
Waters, John, 197
Watkins, Peter, 212
Watts, Naomi, 133, 175, 176

Wayne, John, 236, 237, 300
Weerasethakul, Apichatpong, 271
Welles, Orson, 71, 109, 161, 248
Wellman, William, 155
Wenders, Wim, 156
Wiazemsky, Anne, 26, 28
Wight, Peter, 179
Wilder, Billy, 275
Williams, Dean, 96, 211
Willis, Bruce, 210
Winfield, Paul, 299, 300
Wong, Faye, 71
Wong Kar-wai, 70, 82, 138
Wood, Edward D., Jr., 122, 128,

Wood, Natalie, 236
Woods, James, 292, 294
Wyman, Jane, 13

Yang, Edward, 83
Yanne, Jean, 297
Yo, Hitoto, 59

Zeki, Michalis, 156
Zhuangzhuang, Tian, 130
Zwerin, Charlotte, 228

320 Index

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