The Movie, “Love is News”: The News Is Good

Publicity photo of Loretta Young for Argentine...

Publicity photo of Loretta Young for Argentinean Magazine. (Printed in USA) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Love is News (1937), directed by Tay Garnett, is another old Hollywood comedy about newspaper reporters, shown here to be a shabby lot.  They lie.  Tyrone Power, as a reporter, intends to lie about a well-known heiress he interviews enacted by Loretta Young; but Young turns the tables on him.  She lies about him to a batch of reporters.

Handsome Power has comic verve but no charisma.  Beautiful Young is not a natural for farce but, happily, is never false.  As a managing editor, Don Ameche is a gratifying exhibitor of range.  The film is lively without being very funny (to me) until it turns slapstick, beginning with Power deliberately dropping Young into a mud puddle.  The ending is romantically jaunty.  Love is News is a more-than-okay lark.     

Delivered Into Action: “Deliverance”

Cover of "Deliverance (Deluxe Edition)"

Cover of Deliverance (Deluxe Edition)

I have read James Dickey’s novel, Deliverance, but I don’t much remember it.  I remember enjoying it, though, and I also enjoy the John Boorman film version of it (1972), whose screenplay Dickey wrote.*

Four middle-aged men head to the forest and take a canoe ride on a treacherous river.  The rapids are bad enough; the men also encounter bullying hillbillies, one of whom they kill after he sodomizes Bobbie (Ned Beatty), a member of their group.  Without contacting the police, they bury the man and then try to high tail it out of the region.  They gradually fear, however, that a vengeful hillbilly is attempting to waste them with a shotgun.

I am perfectly sure the movie is a lesser work than the novel.  How I see Boorman’s concoction is as a nicely shot, mostly realistically made adventure story which conveys a message about moral uncertainty and compromise being involved in physical survival.  The canoe riders do not trust lawful authorities who might help them, and the mountain man whom Jon Voight‘s Ed shoots with a crossbow may or may not be a murderer.  Another thing the film tells us is that packs of violent cretins like the hillbillies are out there.  They may lie low, they may be hidden, but they’re there.

Most, though not all, of the acting in Deliverance is impressive.  A fine thespian, Jon Voight is nevertheless a bit unsteady here, maybe because the script “does not offer him sufficient motivation and opportunity for emotional shading” (John Simon).  Agreed.  Even so, the film is anything but dull.  It’s exciting and, in its own way, trenchant.  And it’s a nature lover’s film.  I firmly disagree with the critics who dismiss it.

*Rewritten by Boorman, apparently.

“That Night,” That Book: A Review Of Alice McDermott’s Novel

Rick, an adolescent, is determined to see his girlfriend Sheryl, whose mother is vigorously keeping the two apart.  This is because, unbeknown to Rick, Sheryl is pregnant and was sent out of state.  The boyfriend and his unruly buddies drive to the girl’s house and, owing to their aggressiveness, get involved in a physical conflict with the men of the neighborhood.  This early ’60s incident is the axis for everything that takes place in the novel, That Night (1987), by Alice McDermott.

Such a book might seem like a yawner—material so familiar—but it isn’t.  For one thing, it is short; for another, the characterization is engagingly strong; for another, the structure is interesting.  Style?  It’s nothing exceptional but it’s eminently effective.  Closer to Fitzgerald than to Hemingway or Faulkner, thank goodness.

Themes in That Night include the insufficiency of love (for Rick and Sheryl, for Rick’s mother and father) and when there is trauma for the young.  It reveals for us a person’s “blind, insistent longing”—Sheryl, forever apart from Rick, “wants to love someone else”—whether love is insufficient or not.


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