Tuesday, May 16, 2017

NOT QUITE FADED DREAMS

Hey, I'm not bragging -- its safe and sensible, for me to say my husband is a very successful actor.  He's worked almost continually for more than fifty years, very likely has been better paid than most actors. Even so, an aspect of his dream -- what he wanted to do when he was a boy was "movies." The fact is, most of  his work has been on stage and in television, not in films.

Turn back the clock: In the seventies, actor John Cullum started working on a movie script, "The Secret Life of Algernon" based on a book by the highly praised author, Russell Greenan. John wrote/ re-wrote the screenplay -- oh my -- more than ten times, based on what agents and producers said, when they turned it down. Finally, in 1995, a producer offered to produce it. She'd made only one film, but it won an award from the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. Of course, we said yes.

Small problem -- that it had to be "Canadian" became an ever larger issue. A Canadian writer had to be hired and credited as a co-writer; the director and cast had to be Canadian.

Synopsis: Algernon lives alone, making things out of bones. Wen we meet him he's boiling a neighbor's dead dog for it's bones, and chatting with a porcelain  cat. A ailing Korean War buddy visits him, commits suicide, and leaves Algernon a million dollars in a  suitcase. A woman, claiming to be interested in Algernon's Egyptologist  great-grandfather, pretends to be in love with Algernon, who finds himself falling in love with her.

Award-winning Canadian director of  "Anne of a Thousand Days," directed Algernon. Cast includes Charles Durning and Carrie-Ann Moss. Here's a quick look.  
   
Alas, as the plot unfolds, Algernon discusses (out loud to himself) his longings and dreams with Eulalia, the porcelain cat. Unfortunately, the porcelain prop is awkward-looking and the cat's voice isn't spooky or very believable. Also, after a suspenseful buildup about the fantastic fortune that is buried under Al's house, the final scene has the leading lady trapped forever in the basement, where the "fortune" looks like junk that's been painted gold. Ultimately the film doesn't quite work. The proof, (as John himself says) is in the pudding -- the "Secret Life of Algernon" it is never shown on TV anymore.

Okay -- win some, lose some, there's no biz like show biz -- it was for John Cullum, a project that could have expanded him, his art and the direction of his career.  I regret that there are so few films that show what John Cullum can do as an actor.  (Photos L to R: "Day After, 1776, N. Exposure, The Historian, Damages.")  He get offers and still appears in quite a few films, but nowadays the roles that are offered to him are mostly for grandfather's dying from Altzheimer's. 

I wish we'd done a indie film in our  backyard. We had an idea, but it seemed like too much hard work at the  time.

Guys, if  you are a performer,  take a look-think into the thought that you might have a film idea. Dig into it deeply. A film keeps what you do alive, real, important, even after your days on the world are over.  Anyhow, here's "Algernon" -- bet you'll enjoy seeing it.

1 comment:

Bobbie Staggie said...

I feel privileged to be able to watch this film. A dream is meant to come true! Thanks John n Em!

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