Thursday, January 10, 2019

A Room with a Wild Party

The other day, in search of a movie completely out of my regular wheelhouse these days, I watched our DVR recording of the Merchant-Ivory film A Room with a View. Which makes great use of an amazing cast, some at the start of their careers, and some more experienced actors who've just gotten better and better in the decades since. But once I wrapped it up, I started scanning around for other M-I films I'd missed (which is most of them, most alarmingly The Remains of the Day).
But I'd noticed that one of their earliest films was an adaptation of Joseph Moncure March's poem The Wild Party -- a favorite of mine ever since Art Spiegelman reissued it with his illustrations in the 90s. Now, this is a loose adaptation -- the action has moved to Hollywood rather than NYC, and the old vaudevillian is now a Fatty Arbuckle-type fading silent-movie star (played by James Coco), trying to launch one last picture. And Queenie is Racquel Welch, and she doesn't really have any chemistry with anyone who's not named Racquel Welch. She's got a little with James Coco in the beginning, and barely any with her young lothario, played by Riptide's Perry King. It's just not a good movie. (From what I can tell, it didn't open in NY until an early Merchant-Ivory retrospective, some 6 years after its release.)
And yet as a mid-70s version of 1920s excess, it's kind of fascinating to behold. It could have used more -- a lot more -- of March's verse hanging the scenes together. I was really hoping to hear some of that out loud, especially since I'm not quite sure where my book is at the moment. But que sera, and all that. And at least I got to hear this song, a faux-20s paean to hedonism: "Ain't Nothin' Bad About Feeling Good."


Rob

No comments: