Saturday, November 27, 2010

Larry Buchanan's Fractured Fairy Tales :: A 15 Vid-Cap Look at Goodbye, Norma Jean (1976)

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"That's the last cock I'll ever have to suck."
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According to legend, cinema schlockmeister Larry Buchanan was friends with the newly minted Marylin Monroe when they were both contract wage slaves for MGM in the early 1950's. And Goodbye, Norma Jean was the first chapter of his scathing indictment on the Hollywood machine that, according to Mr. B., forced her to sleep her way to the top, chewed her up, and then spat her back out with the follow up flick, Goodnight, Sweet Marylin. Truthfully, I'm not a huge Monroe fan, whose off-screen mystique tends to blot out and overshadow some real talent onscreen, or buy into the many conspiracies surrounding her life and death; but this film isn't really about Marylin and tries to tear asunder the manufactured and exploited image that has always rubbed me the wrong way.

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"Larry Buchanan's Goodbye, Norma Jean is more than a lurid celebrity biography. It shatters many illusions about the movie business, and attempts to demystify the cultural creation of Marylin Monroe, questioning the cultural mythology of which not only obscures but consumes the person (or its subjects, in both senses of the term). Her struggles show the entertainment industry as a callous, dehumanizing system, a conglomerate of ruthless individuals prepared to exploit anyone in order to produce more product for an insatiable audience [and] specifically seeks to lay bare the pleasant, preposterous banalities of how the public traditionally views a movie star's ascension to fame and fortune. In Norma Jean's case the road to success was not merely rocky, but criminally abusive..."

Rob Craig xxxxxxxx
The Films of Larry Buchanan x
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And thus, once more, Larry Buchanan has managed to suck me back into his static, no frills world of entertainment. (And for this I blame Mr. Craig and his excellent, critical study of our boy Larry.) But, You know what? As far as revisionist B.S. bio-Buchanan flicks go? This one wasn't half bad, but it has less to do with the guy behind the camera and more to do with an arresting performance by Misty Rowe as Norma Jean, whose combination of fragility and dogged determination will surprise a lot of folks who wrote this film off with a Hee and a Haw ... Now I just need to find a copy of the The Loch Ness Horror and I can finally put Mr. Buchanan away for good. Yay, me!

Goodbye, Norma Jean (1976) Austamerican Productions / EP: Mark Josem / P: Larry Buchanan / D: Larry Buchanan / W: Larry Buchanan, Lynn Shubert / C: Robert A. Sherry / E: John Buchanan, John S. Curran / M: Joe Beck / S: Misty Rowe, Terence Locke, Patch Mackenzie, Preston Hanson, Adele Claire


Anonymous said...

Buchanan sure made some weird stuff that I wouldn't expect. I eagerly await your review of Loch Ness Horror...I used to watch it whenever Saturday Nightmares played it because, well, 1) I spent almost every Saturday night from about 8 to 14 at my grandma's house, and usually I spent that time with Saturday Nightmares on USA, 2) it combined cyrptozoology with a monster movie, two of my favorite things and 3) it's too shitty to be actually scary, perfect for the budding horror fan.

W.B. Kelso said...

The first time I saw Night of the Living Dead was on USA's Saturday Nightmares, oddly enough at my Grandma's house as well. Fah-reaked the shit out of me.

Buchanan is such a conundrum. When you read the inspired, bat-shit insane plot synopsis for films like this and Beyond the Doors you just have to see them. And every time you do, you can only boggle out how he can produce something so utterly dull with all the panache of an industrial short.

As for the Loch Ness Horror, that is a film that has eluded my grasp for far too long. Time to massage the gray markets again and see what I can drum up.

Anonymous said...

Grandma's house was also where I saw Time of the Apes, Friday the 13th, The Thing, Dr. Terror's House of Horrors and I swear the opening of The Ghost Galleon, and if there wasn't a horror movie on, I had access to her stash of books on UFOs, cryptozoology and the "unexplained"...driving back through the country roads used to be a trip. Of course, most of those old fields are now developments...

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