As a strong supporter of third parties, you might call me (among other things) a champion of lost causes. Here's another one to toss on the grill: The Turner Classic Movies website has a searchable archive of classic films. Now, I am a huge Tennessee Williams fan, and there are still five classic film adaptations of his work that are shamefully out of print. I've seen three of them, and I refer to all of them as "classics" because it's Tennessee Williams, and as John Waters has said, "The 'bad' Tennessee Williams is better than most of the 'good' of his contemporaries." How does this affect you? Well, if you go to the Turner site and look up these movies, you'll see a little icon on the side that'll let you vote to get it released on DVD. All you have to do is put in your E-mail address. Don't worry, I put in all of my E-mail addresses, and they haven't sent me anything, so you won't get spammed. I strongly urge you to follow the links I've politely provided after each title, and vote for these films to be released. You can take pride in the fact that you've made one obsessive completist very happy.
What films are they? Here's the list.
The Glass Menagerie (1950)
This watered-down effort marks Hollywood's first adaptation of a Williams' play. Compare this to "A Streetcar Named Desire," which came out just one year later, and the difference couldn't be more striking. This is Hollywood desperately trying to shape Williams into something that a classic Hollywood audience could enjoy, without any of the unsettling aspects of his work. Be that as it may, it is still a very good film, and deserves to be seen. I enjoyed Gertrude Lawrence's portrayal of Amanda Wingfield much more than Katherine Hepburn's, even though Hepburn got all the praise. Lawrence gives this character a grating, shrewish personality which is perfect for the part. I also think that Jane Wyman and Kirk Douglas weren't all that bad in their parts either. Yes, it's pretty light and very "Hollywood" in it's presentation, but I liked it. It was much better than "The Rose Tattoo," probably the worst adaptation I've yet seen of one of his films. Plus, Warner Bros, who released the Tennessee Williams DVD box set, owns the rights to this film, and the reason why it's out of print is still a mystery to me, since The Glass Menagerie is probably one of the most famous American plays to be committed to film.
Summer and Smoke (1961)
Saw this one years ago, and I remember thinking that Geraldine Page did a very good job of playing the shy, innocent spinster. Sure, she overacts sometimes, but it's a Tennessee Williams play, for Christ's sake, and you're going to get some of that no matter how straight you try to play it, no pun intended. The plot involves a woman named Alma (Page) who falls in love with a wild local rebel. She tries to hold back, but this man is just so damn wild she can't hide her attraction to him. Sexual frustration and wonderfully flowery dialog ensue. I honestly have no idea why this one's out of print, since it has great production values, an un-beatable plot, a mentally disturbed mother, and a surprising ending. This would have fit perfectly with that Tennessee Williams DVD box set that came out awhile back, if only Warner owned the rights to it instead of Paramount, or whoever the hell it is who owns this film.
Period of Adjustment (1962)
Warner Bros. allegedly own the rights to this film too, so why the fuck is it out of print? You can't just pump out a Tennessee Williams box set and leave out a couple films for arbitrary, non-existent reasons! But enough of that. I haven't seen this one yet, but it's supposed to be Williams' first stab at a comedy. While this doesn't appeal to me all that much personally, I would still like to see it, in hopes that there'll be a nutty woman and repressed homosexual leanings hiding somewhere behind the laughs. Its supposed to be about a newlywed's honeymoon being ruined by a friend's marital problems. That's all I read of the plot synopsis, because like Frank Costanza, I like going into a movie "fresh." It stars Jane Fonda, if that does anything for you. I don't know if it's good or not, but fuck, let me see the damn thing so I can come to some kind of conclusion!
A legendary film, one that any fan of cult cinema needs to know about. It's John Waters' favorite film, with parts of it inspiring Pink Flamingos and other films of his. It stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, with both doing such a fantastically scene-chewing acting job that you can't take your eyes off the screen. Unbelievable that the man who wrote "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" also wrote this. There's a sea-serpent dinner scene, Taylor in the ugliest fucking "hat" I've ever seen, and "The Witch Of Capri," which I can't even begin to describe. As for the plot, it involves Burton as the Angel of Death, who visits ladies right before their deaths. To be honest, I thought the plot was pretty good and if this film were done with the right cast, it might work. But since that will probably never happen, take any chance you can to see this. Williams said that this was the best adaptation of his work, and I have no idea if he was being serious or not. Then again, he also allegedly laughed at the end of one performance of "Streetcar" and said "she's going to the nuthouse now!" so maybe I can believe anything about this man.
The Last of the Mobile Hotshots (1970)
I know dick about this movie, and only recently found out that it existed. Why should it be released on DVD? Well, it's the only Williams film adaptation to be rated X, which certainly makes me want to see it. Also, it stars James Coburn, was directed by Sidney Lumet, has a screenplay by Gore Vidal, and music by Quincy Jones. "Baby Doll" was some racy shit, and I really want to find out why this baby got an X rating, since it more than likely didn't have on-screen penetration scenes. Maybe it had to do with topless dancers and the blatant desire of some of it's characters to screw each other? Who knows? We'll never find out, unless we either get this movie released, or read some online description of the film, which I refuse to do on principle.
So there you go. Five films that I think should be released on DVD. Look, there's already enough bullshit out on DVD. Do we really need a fucking special edition of "Tommy Boy"? How many different DVD versions of "There's Something About Mary" are necessary? Come on now. If studios can pump out the complete series of some bullshit like The Brady Bunch, they sure as fuck can release FIVE MOVIES by a famous playwright. Do your part and help get these movies out. This may be the most important thing you vote for this year, and that includes the presidential election.