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October 30, 1975 - Image 5

Resource type:
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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1975-10-30

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THE MICHIGAN DAILY
'Arts & Entertainm ent Thursday, October 30, 1975 Page Five

Thompson: Hollywood 'Cinderella'

story

Join The Daily Staff
POETRY READING
with
ELLEN ZWIEG
Reading from Her Works
at
GUILD HOUSE, 802 Monroe
THURSDAY, OCT. 30-7;30 p.m.
~

By CHRIS KOCHMANSKI to the Preston Sturges-Frank
1Capra-Howard Hawks screwball
Less than three years ago, a comedies that lifted the spirits
Seattle - based writer named'ofDersinraA rc.
Rob Thompson pute ni of Depression-era America.
touches on his first screenwrit-' Jeff Bridges stars as a naive

screenplay in hand - with con career girl in
fident but perhaps misguided Rosalind Russell
hope of selling it to a Hollywood Thompson says,
producer. sensational."

tough-talking,
style, and as
she is "just

.a
I

ing effort, the odds astronomic-
ally against ever seeing it pro-
duced for the silver screen.
Today the 32 - year - old
Thompson lives in a West Hol-
lywood apartment, drives a
Porsche, and is relishing the
praises for that same script -
one of Hollywood's most pleas-
ant surprises in recent years-
Hearts of the West.
One of only two American en-
tries at the New York Film Fes-
tival, Hearts of the West looks
at Hollywood filmmaking in the
'30s. The film is a throwback

would-be Zane Grey who stum-
bles incredibly upon a shoddy
movie-making outfit, and pre-
dictable misadventures ensue.'
The usual romance, suspense,!
and slapstick of the old come-
dies remains intact, but happily!

Like Lewis Tater, the novice But he was particularly pleas-
author hero of his script ed with Jeff Bridges' perform-'
Thompson merely happened up- ance as Lewis Tater. "When
on success. Three days after he was suggested for the part,"
arriving in town, he and some says Thompson, "I said, 'Great.'
friends were introduced to for- Now I don't think of anyone
mer actor and fledgling produc-: else in the part."
T B'r,il

eclipse jazz presents
McOY

er 1ony m
the film escapes the banalities Thompson says he worked,
of its own cliches. "I was lucky," says Thomp- closely with the production crew
son. Bill, the first producer he and noted a "terrific rapport"
Curiously enough, how the approached, immediately op- on the set. "There are so many
filmameabout is asntaerest-tioned the script. In short time, myths about Hollywood," he
ing and outlandish a tale as the Bill achieved tremendous suc- says. "In our case we had a
film itself. Two and a half years I cess with the critically acclaim- terrific producer, director, and
have passed since scenarist ed box-office smash The Sting studio (MGM). They let us go
Thompson left Seattle for Holly-: and, subsequently the power to considerably over budget and
wood - Hearts of the West make Hearts of the West on 'editing schedule."
Sscreen a reality. His original screenplay, like

car)mpu #'ick4
Russell hits bottom
with trashy Liszt 'bio'

To direct the film, producer; any Hollywood script, under-
Bill hired another relative new- went considerable revisions -
comer, Howard Zieff (whose on. revisions dictated by budget, lo-
ly previous directorial credit cations, and choices of actors.
is the offbeat comedy Slither). "But we adhered to most of my
original dialogue," observes
And so in fact, the MGM Thompson, "which after all is
production - United Artists re- :thhatothe s.int"
- &fthe arIL1t of th ri t~**U

___________________~lease is basically a youthful LM CUPL
By JAMES VALK
production team reflecting on a Still Hearts of the
filmmaking period they never characterized by a
WHATEVER DIRECTOR KEN RUSSELL set out to do with knew. dose of obvious slanstic
his latest endeavor, Lisztomania, he has certainly lost his "I like old B-westerns," says tYou mtst have physic
guidance in what can only be termed the most incoherent, mud- Thompson, "and wanted to por- the fim thromp
died film since Joseph Losey's Secret Ceremony. tray the making of that type of warted scenes, no ma
Working from a flimsy premise loosely involving composer film. It's a colorful era come obvious, where the
Franz Liszt, Russell has added yet another entry to his collec- and gone." And so he loaded his would react."
tion of distorted musical biographies, this time sacrificing any ! script with colorful stock char- 'r
hope of legitimacy for the reckless abandon style he perfected in acters into which an excellent' Thompson feels that
' supporting cast breathed new ticular "physical" s
Tom.life. Which stuntman Lewis
The result: Lisztomania - which literally derives its rem- s t
nants of plot from the title - a projection into the 19th century , Among them is Howard Pike larioiisly stages a dea
of contemporary musical values, not so much as an artform than (played by Andy Griffith), an ! to the chagrin of Alan
as a function of an infatuated lifestyle. aging cowpoke who befriends among the best in the
1WHETHER RUSSELL'S MEAGERLY THOUGHT out premises Lewis Tater, betrays him, but Another apparent
are even valid become of secondary issue to pure garish- eventually saves his life -all device is Thompson's
ness. Oh, there may be some correlation between the Liszt of lywtd grand tradion of Hol- rerences fih
the 1800s and the musicians of today, and there may be some Alldn,' gnrtn acsy "ec
bizarre observation of the cultural acceptance of the different Todayt seeing riffith icchs- herrah)referencess
artists in their respective eras. bumbling Andy of Mayberry thing. There's no real
But the fact remains that Russell consistently sidelines the ' TV roles might find him an odd for it," he says.
hypothesis he proposes, choosing rather to progress to the next choice for such a part, but the
mind-boggling, visual circus that the script calls for. p r o d u c e r s remembered Thompson found his
Unfortunately for Russell, this cerebral numbness is only tem- Griffith's depth in pre-televi- nerience with Hollvwo
porary, with a more rational question then emerging, concern- I sion films like A Face in the I light, and is pleased tha
ing not what we saw but why we saw it. 'Crowd, and the choice paid off has received such exce
rrHE REAL DIFFICULTY I FIND with Lisztomania is that I admirably. tical notice. it allove
cannot even guess what Russell used as his initial excuse of' Alan Arkin overacts nicely in how well this film dogs
justifying this debacle. his hammy portrayal of the
Unsubstantiated motifs involve the piano as a phallic symbol hack movie director intent on He added, "If Heart
representating Richard Wagner as a blood-sucking vampire and' exploiting Lewis Tater's naiv- West does well, we'll
later as Dr. Frankenstein himself, and the final creation of a ete. Yet the individual charm more like it.
monster that turns out to be none other than Adolph Hitler. of Hearts rests primarily in the
Russell, ultimately reduces them to mere cinematic gim- teaming of Bridges and Blythe Chris Kochinanskt is
irused, tatefy oureucer fe te etrem ematc im- t Danner as the romantic couple. sistant Arts and Enter
icks used to satisfy our hunger for the extreme, much in the Danner plays the hard-to-get Fditor of The Daily.
same principle as those shrunken heads given out to the first
50 cars At the drive-ins.
If a pattern is beginning to emerge, I would think Russell
dould be well advised to retrack from his game plan. I honestly NOW SHOWING
don't think anyone can take Roger Daltrey in another somnolent
role that asks nothing more than youthful vivaciousness with an SHOWS TONIGHT at 7
occasional grin. Phone 668-6416 OPEN at 6:45
The next question, then, is whether Russell will try to out "ONE O HE BEST PICTURES OF THE YEA
Liszt Liszt. I could only guess he probably will, maybe through ' The Denver P
some kinky outing like Straussathon or Brahmsarama.
If so, it will no doubt prove yet another intricate page in the I
ne-dimensional coloring book of which Russell owns the deluxe ' {
set of 64 Crayolas.

West is
generous┬▒
k humor.
al action
with the
son. We~
tter how
audience
one par-
cene, in
Tater hi-
th scene
Arkin, is
film.
gimmick
constant
:e Woody'
3anifgless
in Love'
t a fun
reason
first ex-
*d a de-
at Hearts
lent cri-
to direct
pends on
5.
s of the
make'

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Daily Photo by KEN FINK
Rob Thompson-

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