Tuesday, April 5, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Street creds

The KIller — Laurence Harvey as Sergeant Raymond Shaw in "The Manchurian Candidate" (1962).
by Liz Smith

In Defense of Laurence Harvey's "street creds." Also — Janis, Amy, Captain America and Jann Wenner for Hillary Clinton.

"HE WAS the most physically powerful and dangerous guy with whom I've ever worked. He survived violence as a kid, a Lithuanian Jew in the streets of Johannesburg and at 15 was a trained killer as a commando fighting Rommel's army in the Sahara."

That's part of a note from our friend, press rep deluxe Dick Guttman "defending" the honor of actor Laurence Harvey who died in 1974.

Laurence Harvey and Elizabeth Taylor on the set of "Night Watch" (1973).
In our run down memory lane last week, recalling the 1962 movie "Walk on the Wild Side" we mentioned that Harvey seemed ill-cast as a raw cowboy type from Texas. Now, I'm sure Laurence Harvey was a tough cookie in many ways — in fact I know he was! (Warranted or not, he was very much disliked by a lot of people. Elizabeth Taylor, the patron saint of wounded souls, loved him, naturally.)

But physically he did not come off as overwhelmingly virile. He had a lot of style and panache, and often played rather unpleasant, emotionally tormented or distant characters. ("Room at the Top" "Butterfield 8" "The Manchurian Candidate.") In that vein, Harvey was also quite good as the repressed, club-footed physician in the underrated 1964 "Of Human Bondage" remake with an appropriately sluttish, sullen Kim Novak.

So while I am sure Laurence Harvey could arm-wrestle and all that with the best of them, he was still limited by his elegant appearance. Anatomy is destiny, as Freud remarked.

However, I don't think Harvey was actually a "trained killer." He might have been trained in preparation at some point in his military service, but one must note that during his tenure with the South African Army in World War II Harvey was assigned to the ... entertainment unit.
WE TOLD you a while back that Sean Hayes was starring as God, in "An Act of God" in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The show — written by David Javerbaum and directed by Joe Mantello — had a Broadway run last summer. Well, apparently, Sean's turn as The Deity has been so successful that "Act of God" is returning to New York, where the comedy will play a limited run at the Booth Theater. Opening night is June 6th. Call 212-239-6200 for tix info.
ON MAY 6th, Amy Berg's magnificent documentary about Janis Joplin, "Janis: Little Girl Blue" will be released on DVD. The DVD will include bonus features such as an a capella performance from Janis' time with her first band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and looking back at a few of Joplin's early venues, such as The Avalon and the Fillmore. It's interesting that 2015 saw two acclaimed films about great singers who died well before their time — Janis and Amy Winehouse. Both were 27. Last year also offered the gripping "What Happened, Miss Simone?" about soul queen Nina Simone, who lived longer, but no less dramatically or unhappily than Janis or Amy.
Since that brilliant-but-doomed singer vibe is in the wind, it's probably about time for fresh documentaries on Garland and Billie Holiday. (Oh, no — you thought Diana Ross's "Lady Sings the Blues" was Billie's real story? Please. Great Oscar-nominated performance by Ross, however.)

P.S. On May 3rd, PBS's "American Masters" will broadcast an extended-cut version of the Joplin documentary. This will include new interviews with Pink, Melissa Etheridge, Juliette Lewis and others. Check local listings.
AS IF the MTV Movie Awards — airing April 10th — aren't enough fun, Chris Evans, Captain America himself will be on hand that night to introduce an exclusive first peek at "Captain America: Civil War." I love Captain America. Or maybe I just love Chris Evans?
Others presenting and bound to look fab include the goddess-like Charlize Theron (I am waiting impatiently for her new one "The Huntsman: Winter's War") ... Zac Efron (in a bathing suit, hopefully) ... Jessica Chastain, Olivia Munn, Seth Rogen and Chris Hemsworth (He, too, can wear a bathing suit.) The event is hosted by Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart.
"EVERY TIME Bernie Sanders is challenged on how he plans to get his agenda through Congress and past the special interests, he responds that the 'political revolution' that sweeps him into office will somehow be the magical instrument of the monumental changes he describes. This is a vague, deeply disingenuous idea that ignores the reality of modern America ... I have been to the revolution before. It ain't happening ... this is not the time in history for a 'protest vote.'

Rolling Stone is endorsing Hillary Clinton for president. Illustration by Roberto Parada
So writes Jann Wenner, in the current issue of Rolling Stone (James Franco on the cover) in his endorsing Hillary Clinton for president.

I agree with Wenner. Nothing at all against Bernie Sanders who has more than enlivened the Democratic campaign and Hillary Clinton herself. But with success, the unprepossessing Sanders has become more combative, more critical of Clinton and more apt to hint he might want to disrupt the Democratic convention if he doesn't get his way. Sounding a bit like the other side?

Hillary Clinton is not above being challenged or criticized — my God, when has she NOT been?! But the idea that Sanders might not step aside quietly if Hillary is the nominee, or encourage his supporters not to vote for her is utter madness. If Clinton becomes president, Bernie Sanders will be very much part of the team. And vice versa, we assume. (If anybody else becomes president we can just start counting down to End Times.)

Well, isn't it funny — the closer one gets to power the less one wants to lose it, no matter what good-hearted "ideals" one espouses.

With Denis Ferrara

Contact Liz here.