Saturday, April 8, 2017

Let's Have A Sandy Dennis Film Festival!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                               I hadn't really given much thought to Ed Gracyzk's  play "Come Back To The Five And Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean," until I watched Robert Altman's film version, with my beloved, the other night.  I had seen it on the Broadway stage, in the early Eighties, with the same cast.  I remembered the acting being wonderful, and the three leads singing and dancing to "Sincerely," by the McGuire Sisters, as the curtain came down, but that is about it.

                                 Imagine my surprise, the other night!  Kathy Bates, so young!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Karen Black as a transsexual (!!!!!!!!!!).  Now, there is range for you--from upstaging a voodoo doll, to this!  But the actress to walk off with the film is Sandy Dennis, in the role I should play--Mona.  I can relate to Mona, but what I also discovered is how perfectly Dennis' acting technique matches that of one of my favorites of today--Mary Louise Parker.  I mean, if this show is ever revived for Broadway, Mary-Louise would make the perfect Mona!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                 It occurred to me, Sandy has been gone for awhile--25 years, to be exact, having died in 1992, at the age of 54.  And not once has she ever had a film festival??????????  That is just so criminal!  So, I propose we have one--here are the selections!

                                 1. "Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?"--I mean, it is required!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                  2."Splendor In The Grass"--Her movie debut!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                  3. "That Cold Day In The Park"--Robert Altman's first film, first time working with Dennis, and a brilliant gender reversal of "The Collector" that I just LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                  4. "Up The Down Staircase"--Where she plays Sylvia Barrett, high school English teacher.  Come on, darlings!  We all read the Bel Kaufman novel in junior high!!!!!!!!!!!

                                   5, "The Fox"--Oh, my God!  Keir Dullea and lesbians!  See dyke Sandy killed by a fallen tree!!!!!!!!!!!

                                   6. "The Out-Of-Towners"--The first movie written for the screen by Neil Simon, and still the living truth about New York.  Worth seeing for Simon's acidic wit about Gotham, and Dennis using just three words to steal ALL her scenes--"Ohhhhhhh Myyyyyyyyy Goooooddddd!"  Her line reading of this phrase is priceless.

                                   7. "Come Back To The Five And Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean"--Dennis and Altman reunite again to show is the most brilliant among the cast.  Too bad she did not end up somewhere in "Nashville," back in 1975!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                    Any other suggestions, girls??????????  Let me know!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                    Sandy Dennis is long overdue, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Videolaman said...

All of those selections are great, but I would want to add a sentimental favorite of mine: her portrayal of John Dean in the Watergate allegory "Nasty Habits" (loosely based on Muriel Spark's novel "The Abbess Of Crewe"). This is the one-trick stunt movie that had every "name" actress of 1975 playing nuns in a Philadelphia convent rocked by wiretapping scandals and "dirty tricks". The first movie I ever trekked into Manhattan to see as a young teen (at Cinema One, where they tried to bar me because it was a "hard PG" rating).

Opinion of Sandy's performance in this was (and remains) sharply divided. For those who don't care for her particular acting tics, "Nasty Habits" amps them up to the point of unbearable. But her over-the-top mugging keeps her from being buried alive by the other powerhouse women chewing the scenery (Glenda Jackson as Nixon, Geraldine Page as H R Haldeman, Anne Jackson as Ehrlichman, Melina Mercouri as Kissinger, Anne Meara as Gerald Ford). Dennis' "Sister Winifred" getting arrested as a transvestite in the ladies room at Wanamaker's is one highlight, with her ensuing showdown with Glenda being another.

"Nasty Habits" was dated even upon release, and poorly paced for a comedy. But if you can roll your mind back to the early 1970s and recall how utterly pervasive the Watergate story was, the movie still holds together as political satire (while also taking deadly aim at Catholic hypocrisy). Worth a look, if only to see Geraldine Page smoking a cigar in nun drag while coldly ripping the jewels off an Infant Of Prague statue (as Rip Torn and Glenda get smashed on Communion wine).

The Raving Queen said...

How could I have forgotten "Nasty Habits?"
Also, "Sweet November." And the Lee Strasberg
directed "Three Sisters," with Dennis, Gerladine
Page, and Kim Stanley! That set must have been fun!