September 20, 2007
Really strong buzz on the new Jesse James movie. The premiere was last Tuesday in New York (it opened in LA also and no released date here yet. They're hoping for good word of mouth evidently). Got a call back from Ron Hansen, the author of the book, the movie is based on. We want to do a sidebar on "What They Got Right" in the film. Evidently, quite a bit. I read an article Ron wrote on the Santa Clara College website, where he tells about, well, this:
"Alberta, Canada’s woodlands, prairies, the mountains near Banff, and the old-town streets of Winnipeg provide settings that look far more like 1880s Missouri, eastern cities, and Bob Ford’s final home in Creede, Colorado, than the authentic locations do today. Walking through the sets, I marveled at the details, with 'Thomas Howard’s' house at 1318 Lafayette Street in St. Joseph reconstructed exactly according to the architectural blueprint and furnished with real antiques from the period. I had a job as an extra one Wednesday afternoon—I played, without flourish, a journalist—and was costumed in some long dead man’s actual 19th-century frock coat, stiffly-collared shirt, and carefully brushed black bowler hat.
"Also, the corpse photographed and forensically examined in St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1882 contained every injury, physical characteristic, and dental repair of the famous outlaw.
"Those injuries are much in evidence on actor Brad Pitt in the Warner Bros. film adaptation of my novel. Having grown up in Missouri, Brad was familiar with the glamorous but false representations of Jesse James and, like me, was intrigued far more by a historically accurate, psychologically acute, warts-and-all presentation of this shrewd, spellbinding, and improbably durable celebrity.
"My rules are fairly simple: honesty and fidelity throughout, meaning no hard facts, however inconvenient, may be dismissed and no crucial scenes, however wished for, may be turned to ends that may be more pleasing to a contemporary audience. In other words, I do not budge from the truth as I know it and I firmly root the novel in the 19th century in spite of 20th-century perceptions of what can and should be done or said. I relied primarily on period newspaper accounts, secondarily on histories, and not at all on the recollections of the descendants of family and eyewitnesses since those 'memories' are the most tinged by flattering interpretation.
Here's the site for the entire article.
Last night I finally got to watch The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. I've had the Netflix DVD since before I went to Nicaragua, but our DVD player broke and I finally got the new one to work for me (I should say Kathy finally got the new DVD player to work for me) on. Enjoyed the film (I saw it when it came out in 1962 at the State Theatre in Kingman). The big steaks in the restaurant were just as big as I remember them, and Lee Marvin was just as bad (as in good) as I remembered. My Kingman Kompadre Andy Devine (the actor not the street) was quite good in a part that seemed written just for him. But the key quote, that gets played to death seemed kind of flat. Maybe because it's so over-used:
"This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."
—Newspaperman, ripping up his notes on who really killed Liberty Valance
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